Charleston - Senate Minority Leader Vic Spouse (D-Ansted) introduced a controversial new bill that could impact the way people communicate while motoring around the nation's 35th state.
Bucking the state motto "Mountains are always free", this bill seeks to levy serious fines and even jail time to people who feel the need to drive while using a cell phone. Studies done by the state indicate that drivers using such distracting devices are three times more likely to get into a wreck, and five times more likely to "not notice a green light until it turns yellow and then go only to leave the other cars stuck at another red light."
While almost everyone can agree that cell phone usage has impacted safety on the highways, byways, and back roads of the state, some are concerned about a secondary addendum to the bill. It appears some misguided lobbying on the part of P.A.C.M.A.N. (People Against Cell phones, Mobile phones, And Necrophilia) would also make it illegal to use sign language while operating a motor vehicle.
A spokesperson for the group tried to convey a spirit of concern for the bill, while also "letting everyone know where we are coming from."
"This is not an attack on deaf people," read the P.A.C.M.A.N. spokesperson, "This is an attempt to drive down the number of distractions on the road. When our group began the task of looking at potential distractions, one of our members begged the question, ‘What about the deafies (people who are hearing impaired)?' The members of P.A.C.M.A.N. like deaf people as much as the next advocacy group, but we simply don't see how one can safely drive and sign at the same time."
Groups tied to and in support of the hearing impaired rallied at the capitol determined to champion their cause. Picket lines sprung up in front of the senate building in Charleston, although a well-meaning chant was quickly discounted for obvious reasons.
Julie Frey, a concerned citizen with the rally, spoke out against the legislature's oppressive measure, "Well, I don't know too much about this issue, but I am getting credit for my PolySci class for being here today." Frey said that while she didn't know any people that "spoke sign language", she's almost sure that "the ACLU or the NAACP should do something about this - quick."
The measure is scheduled to go before the Senate for a vote on Friday.