We returned to Loma Linda California from Kelowna British Columbia a few days ago, driving for over 25 hours in a attempt to make it back for one of my ethics classes. We took shifts through the night, and during the night shifts I wondered if my fatigue represented a risk to other drivers as well as ourselves. Was I employing consequentialist ethics to justify our drive?
By late morning, we had entered northern California. Then we saw the road block. This would not have meant much to us under normal circumstances, but we happened to be riding home with a large basket of fresh cherries. These cherries had passed inspection with hardly a glance when we crossed from Canada into the U.S. but we quickly discovered that they were contraband in California.
The officious little man who confiscated my cherries at the roadblock offered little convincing justification for his actions. He said something about keeping pests out of the Central Valley, but were these pests present where we came from? Probably not. And did he really think we were plotting to strew cherries through the Central Valley instead of continuing our logical route on 395, East of the Sierra mountains until we reached Southern (not Central) California? Probably not. In all likelihood, this man, this unfortunate and lonely official, was merely fulfilling his duty to enforce a stringent California law.
But I couldn't help imagine this guy digging his hands into our beautiful cherries and greedily congratulating himself on one of the premiere perks of his duty to enforce California Agricultural law upon hapless travelers. Yes, I decided, that guy was going for the goods. He was rather like all those TSA officials who confiscate homemade raspberry jam because it is technically a liquid, and as we all know so well, liquids like raspberry jam can be used to make dangerous explosives.
To be continued...