I’m Going To Turn My Grandmother Into A Radical Libertarian

Okay, maybe not. But I sure have a great way to do so (and maybe to turn a few readers).

I’m in Chicago visiting family, sadly with little internet access (sitting outside Panera Bread Co in the car with my napping son in the back). Today we celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. This is a woman who lived through the Great Depression, raised three sons during WWII, lived on the south side of Chicago up until a year or so ago after her sister died, and is generally one of the tougher old ladies I’ve ever known. My other grandmother spoiled me rotten when I grew up; Grandma Ann — as the father of three boys — didn’t let me get away with squat!

My grandmother doesn’t have a driver’s license. My grandfather was the only one who drove up until he passed about 15 years ago, and then she was still tough enough to walk or take transit pretty much wherever she needed to go (when she couldn’t get a ride from a neighbor).

So why am I throwing out all this backstory?

Because a few weeks ago, she got a ticket.

No, before you ask, she wasn’t joyriding out in my dad’s minivan. She was sitting in the passenger seat, with the audacity to ride without a seat belt.

Surely, you’d think that a cop would understand that a 90 year old woman was competent enough to make her own decisions. That at most, if he has to pull my dad over, that perhaps he could give her a warning. After all, it wasn’t illegal for most of her adult life. Maybe, you’d just think that a cop would have the common decency not to give a 90 year old woman a $75 dollar ticket for a completely victimless crime in the middle of the holiday season. In fact, my father tried to argue these points — and yet the ticket still came.

Most non-libertarians view the state as helpful and friendly, and believe that it only hassles the type of people who deserve it*. To those non-libertarians I ask one question: does your grandmother deserve it? Because mine sure as hell doesn’t.

So I might not have enough time to change my grandmother’s views. I’m only in town for another 25 hours or so, and she’s spent a lifetime building those views. But I am going to try to convince her not to pay the ticket, and not to go to court. If they want to come after a 90 year old woman, I’d like to think I know enough people in the greater libertosphere to rain down hell (in the form of letters, emails, and phone calls) on the local police force.

* The TSA excepted, of course, as they made my wife and I — very frazzled from traveling with a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 month old — take my 2 1/2 year old son’s shoes off going through the airport. He’s a threat to ruin quite a few fliers’ trips, but that’s only by screaming, not by hiding illicit materials in his shoes.

  • http://unitedliberty.org Brett Bittner


    I will be happy to “unleash Hell” alongside you.


  • John Newman

    As much as I agree with you, I fear you may be asking for the dear old woman to have her front door smashed in and being tasered by the tax feeders if she doesn’t show up in court.
    Good luck.

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  • Bob

    I’m with you. I pleaded not guilty to a $37 seat belt ticket about a month ago. I’m waiting for the state to decide whether or not to prosecute. Seat belt laws are one of my pet peeves. Everyone who gets a ticket for not wearing one should help overload the system by pleading not guilty.

  • SWilliams

    IMHO seatbelt laws are just another of our “insurance laws.” The state could care less other than its a little more income from the ticket, they aren’t hassling her to protect her but to limit potential claims.

    The ticket aside, the bigger price she will pay is if your grandmother is injured in an auto accident. Wait and see how well that adjuster shaves down the claim based on her proven failure to wear a seat belt and even though she has never driven a day in her life she will now bear a percentage of the responsibility for her injuries.

  • Ron H.

    Brad, I agree with you 100%. I’m hoping your grandmother will agree. We need to “unleash hell” about quite a few things these days. Some commenters sound a little worried for your grandmother, but I don’t think they should be. as you said, she’s a tough lady. I should imagine that in 90 years she has overcome much tougher problems than a seat belt ticket.