A man in Oregon decided to do some research into the way Oregon’s red light cameras operate after his wife was given a ticket because of one. In response to his findings, the state fined him…but not for the reason you might think.
Why was he fined? Mats Järlström was fined $500 by the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying for “practicing engineering without being registered.”
What did he do? He challenged the ticket his wife was given by presenting his research into the timing of yellow lights at intersections that are equipped with the red light cameras. Since then, he has garnered a great deal of attention for it.
The fine. Reason reported:
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According to the board, Järlström’s research into red light cameras and their effectiveness amounts to practicing engineering without a license. No, really. Järlström had sent a letter to the board in 2014 asking for the opportunity to present his research on how too-short yellow lights were making money for the state by putting the public’s safety at risk. “I would like to present these fact for your review and comment,” he wrote.
Instead of inviting him to present, the board threatened him. Citing state laws that make it illegal to practice engineering without a license, the board told Järlström that even calling himself an “electronics engineer” and the use of the phrase “I am an engineer” in his letter were enough to “create violations.”
Järlström fights back. He has decided to sue the state board arguing that it is unconstitutional for the state government to require him to have a permit to do mathematics, and a national libertarian law firm, the Institute for Justice, has thrown their support behind him.
Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, discussed the situation in a statement.
“Criticizing the government’s engineering isn’t a crime; it’s a constitutional right,” Gedge said.
“Under the First Amendment, you don’t need to be a licensed lawyer to write an article critical of a Supreme Court decision, you don’t need to be a licensed landscape architect to create a gardening blog, and you don’t need to be a licensed engineer to talk about traffic lights.”
Järlström’s background. Reason reported:
The notion that it’s somehow illegal for Järlström to call himself an engineer is absurd. He has a degree in electrical engineering from Sweden, worked as an airplane camera mechanic in the Swedish Air Force, and has worked in a variety of technical jobs since immigrating to the United States in 1992. In Oregon, though, all that matters is whether he has a state-issued license.
Why is this important? As Reason pointed out, this isn’t an isolated case — Oregon has pulled stunts like this before.
This appears to be a disturbing, and dangerous, case of the government trying to exert control over every aspect of our lives. Thankfully Järlström is fighting this insanity, and hopefully something is done about it.
ARTICLE SOURCE : thefederalistpapers.org