Home Social Issues A State Trooper, a Judge, and a “Quiet Victory” for Civil Rights

A State Trooper, a Judge, and a “Quiet Victory” for Civil Rights

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Christina Kahrl, Baseball ProspectusOver at Baseball Prospectus (The Green Miles is a huge stats geek), writers contribute to a storytelling session called Lineup Card. This week’s is 14 Scariest Things to Happen While Driving. Far & away the best comes from Christina Kahrl, one of my favorite sports writers who also happens to be transsexual, and it takes place here in Virginia:

July, 2006. I was driving on I-66 from my home in Fairfax in towards the Beltway to drop in on Equality Virginia’s field office to talk about doing some volunteer work to help campaign against the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Weekday or not, early afternoon or not, we’re crawling along in stop-and-go traffic, around 10-15 mph. The VDOT van in front of me stopped that fraction of a second faster than I expected, and for that millisecond too long, it registers that he’s come to a complete stop.

That pause costs me: I hit his bumper. Nobody’s air bag goes off, not at this speed. There’s an embarrassed pause, I can’t see how badly my car’s been damaged-not very-but we immediately pull over to the inside shoulder.

So far, so good. I’m an idiot and I’m embarrassed, but the Va. Department of Transportation guys-a West African emigre behind the wheel and a beefy, 50-something old-timer riding shotgun-are good-natured and intent on making sure that I’m okay. It’s blisteringly hot, and they genially offer me a Gatorade from their cooler as we swelter and wait for a policeman to eventually show up and collect an incident report. I call Equality Virginia to apologize that I won’t make my appointment and then my insurance company-just your average dumb day on the road, the sort of thing you’d rather avoid, but happily enough, nobody’s hurt. The rest should be a matter of logistics.

And then the state trooper arrived. He looks at me and then my driver’s license, which in Virginia has to have one key letter instead of another. He decides right off the bat that he doesn’t much care for the cut of my jib. He sets the tone at the outset, referring to me as “Mr. Kahrl” with a snigger; it’s a good three years past the time that title would have been appropriate. With transparent glee, he walks me to his patrol car and chucks me into the back. He immediately demands my confession to driving recklessly. At 10 mph. In a low-velocity fender-bender so slo-mo that nobody’s air bag went off.

You have to go read the whole thing to find out what happens, it’s #14. I just wish she’d included the judge’s name.