A note from the future

This site represents things that I, Matt Dragon, though worthy of posting to the internet to be publicly consumed from age 18-27. Many of those things were, and are, wrong. I used words here at the time I hadn't bothered to educate myself about the harms of. The fact they were more widely used then doesn't absolve my use of them. Many of my opinions reek of what I now understand to be white male privilege.

But I'm not going to take those posts or this site down. For one because it wouldn't matter, the internet is forever and people would still be able to find it. But also because it's important to acknowledge that people should and do change over time. Merely changing doesn't reverse the wrongs or forgive us of what we said or did before. But the actions we take in response to those personal changes should be evaluated to see if they can offset at least some of the harms we caused. I no longer believe people are beyond redemption if they put in the work and the communities their prior words or acts hurt decide to accept their help going forward.

Taking this down entirely wouldn't address the harms nor hold me accountable. So instead I'm adding this note and asking people to evaluate for themselves if they think that 2021 Matt has done enough to offset 2010 Matt. To be honest, these were not my worst takes. Around this time I also stated less publicly that when people run from the police they should hit them with their cars to catch them. If you run you must have done something, right? I had an argument with someone about how no one who wasn't guilty would ever confess to a crime. (Sorry random dude in MegaBYTES)

Obviously those takes were bad, uninformed, and I was wrong for voicing then at the time. I share them because I feel they represent how easy it was to feel empowered as a white male teenager and young adult despite knowing almost nothing. I share them because I think they represent the rock bottom of my opinions and show how much someone's thoughts can change when you simply seek out first hand knowledge and then listen.

Those are just terrible opinions I can remember right now. I'm sure there were others. I haven't exhaustively read all the posts here so there may be similar or worse things I said here. But today, I'm writing letters to the editor about the need for civilian oversight over jails and the police and advocating for the police to be taken out of traffic enforcement. I'm speaking at County Commissioners meetings about civilian jail oversight and the need for accountability. I'm constantly trying to unlearn my bad habits and challenge my initial responses to things. Not because the world has changed but because I have learned to listen. Because people took the risk, the time, and the emotional effort to share and luckily I realized I needed to hear them.

So I leave this up, with this now lengthy disclaimer to try to push folks reading my bad takes to also learn to listen, and to be explicit, not always and only listen to white dudes like me. Where I'm at now, I'm trying to lift other voices. Folks actually experiencing the struggles I have ideas about trying to lessen or solve. Folks who's opinions I trust not because they have degrees or status, but because they're talking about their community, their friends, their family, their life, their struggles. For some of my later posts elsewhere, I chose to channel Dennis Miller when naming that blog. That decision didn't age any better than he did. He's now a racist bigot or at least he is publicly, maybe he always was. He's probably beyond redemption at this point. Andrew Gutmann is probably beyond redemption too, but it's honestly not my decision. I think people definitely can change, and they can change for better or for worse.

So I've done some more recent writing elsewhere that, if you want to read it, is definitely more informed, less self absorbed, with fewer blind spots, and just generally better all around.

My whiteness and maleness have given me all the second, third, and fourth chances anyone could ever ask for. It's up to me to prove I've changed for the better. Hopefully this is a step in that direction.

Matt 1, Traffic Violations Bureau 0, Asshat Cop -1

posted 07/10/2008 20:40:15 by matt flesch-kincaid: 61, grade level: 9 commentscomments(0) linklink
So here's how my visit to court went:
Cop: On Jan. 18th, 2008 at approximately 2:12pm, I was standing on the NE corner of 7th Ave and W 31st St. I observed.... (btw he pulled me over using a car so I guess he runs pretty fast to get in his car)
Cop: I don't have the direction he was traveling written down
Judge: You don't have the direction of travel?
Cop: No, I didn't write down the direction he was traveling.
Judge: So you cannot testify to these offenses?
Cop: No, I cannot.
Judge picks up his not guilty stamp...
Cop to Me: Wear your seat belt.
Me to Cop: I was, SIR.(if you know me you know the disdain that was in my tone while saying this)
Cop to Me: Oh were you? (winks and smiles at me)
Judge: You don't have to make his case for him.
Judge: Step to the side to get your receipt.
Me to Judge: Thank you.

To recap:
Total hours of research I did before court: 6-8
# of Printed pages I took up to the bench: ~20
Total words said by me: 3
Total words said by me that had anything to do with defending myself against the tickets: 0
Total % of my "testimony" on official New York State court transcripts of me being an ass to the jackass cop who pulled me over for no reason and then lied and gave me a ticket for not wearing my seat belt when I was wearing my seat belt: 100%
Not guilty verdicts: 2
Complaints with Internal Affairs filled by me against the Cop: 1 (2 if you count that I sent it by Email and Mail)
Approximate % of words used in my "testimony" compared to my complaint: 3/779 = 0.385%


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re: Matt 1, Traffic Violations Bureau 0, Asshat Cop -1
posted by: on 07/12/2008 16:53:09
Your experience is not uncommon. I have personally defending thousands of motorists with New York speeding tickets and other moving violations at he Traffic Violations Bureau (not to mention watching 1,000s of other NY traffic ticket trials). Below is an article I wrote which may help you'll to prepare for a real trial (in the event your officer writes down your direction of travel). Fighting A Traffic Ticket At The Traffic Violations Bureau This article will help you fight your own New York speeding ticket at the Traffic Violations Bureau covering traffic tickets issued in New York City, western Suffolk, Rochester and Buffalo. The most common type of moving violation is speeding. Because a New York motorist can get 3 to 11 points for committing such an infraction, it is important to know how to fight such a ticket. This information is particularly useful at the Traffic Violations Bureau because this venue does not allow for any type of deal-making or plea bargaining. This article will provide a basic framework to help you fight a New York speeding ticket at the Traffic Violations Bureau. The first step is to compute how many points are involved with the New York State speeding ticket you have been given. The following chart will help you figure this out: 1 - 10 mph over speed limit - 3 points 11 - 20 mph over speed limit - 4 points 21 - 30 mph over speed limit - 6 points 31 - 40 mph over speed limit (possible suspension) - 8 points More than 40 mph over speed limit (possible suspension) - 11 points Points are measured from the date of offense (even if you are convicted years later). So when adding the possible points for a newly issued speeding ticket. you must go back 18 months from the date of the new ticket and determine how many other points you have on your record. Also, three speeding convictions within 18 months will result in an automatic revocation in your driving privileges for 6 months. The next step is to determine whether your case is returnable at a Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) court or not. There are two, very different traffic court systems in New York State and, therefore, this determination is important for you to understand what you can and cannot do. If you are not within the TVB, then usually you can resolve the case by a plea deal. The TVB courts cover any New York traffic ticket issued in New York City (Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island), western Suffolk, Buffalo and Rochester. A New York speeding ticket issued in any other place within New York State will not be a TVB court. The reason this is an important inquiry is that TVB courts generally do not allow any type of deal-making or plea bargaining. Rather, you must either plead guilty or not guilty and, if you plead not guilty, you are given a hearing where you will either win or lose. In this "all or nothing" court, it really pays to retain an New York traffic lawyer to fight your case. That is, a New York traffic attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in fighting speeding tickets at the TVB. Putting aside the emotions involved with fighting your own case, most motorists do not know how to listen carefully or cross examine. Rather, they basically ignore the officer's testimony, fail to ask any questions and, instead, just tell the judge their story. This incomplete approach is not recommended and is clearly not effective. If you do fight your own TVB speeding ticket, listen carefully to the officer's testimony and even take notes. If the officer omits critical testimony (ex., date, time, location, direction, your ID information), then point this out to the judge after the officer rests. Similarly, if the officer gives testimony which is inconsistent with his other testimony or the information on the ticket, then likewise point this out to the judge. For instance, I once was fighting a NYC speeding ticket when the officer testified that the motorist was proceeding east bound on the Long Island Expressway. The ticket, however, indicated W/B (i.e., west bound). After the officer rested, I showed the ticket to the judge who promptly dismissed the case. Even without an omission or inconsistency, you should still ask thoughtful questions of the officer. For example, if your defense is that the officer pulled over the wrong car, then ask him where was he when he first saw your car, did he have to pass any other cars to apprehend your car, and how long did it take him or apprehend you. These types of questions build on your defense. Also, ask to the see the officer's notes. Read them and determine whether his notes are consistent with his testimony. Any discrepancy should be pointed out to the judge. Also, do not be afraid to ask the officer to decipher illegible portions of his notes. After your cross examination of the officer, it is time for you to offer your defense. Speak slowly and clearly. Hand up any evidence supporting your defense such as photos, witness statements or diagrams. Keep in mind that the judge hears many, many such cases and, therefore, you should not be repetitive or rambling about irrelevant information. One last tip. Prior to fighting your case, watch the judge and how he handles other cases. Does he listen and take notes? Does he seem impatient or distracted? If you are concerned about whether you will get a fair hearing, ask for a new date. It is unlikely that you will get the same TVB judge on the next assigned date. I hope this article has been helpful in getting you prepared to fight your own NY speeding ticket when returnable at the TVB. Matthew Weiss, Esq. 212-683-7373 http://www.nytrafficticket.com