Huh-Huh, He Said 'Engineer'

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Government officials in Oregon have been channeling Beavis and Butthead (NSFW), perseverating on a few isolated syllables in a communication. Too bad the resemblance ends there. Unlike the adolescents, the officials' infatuation with the word, "engineer" had real-world consequences for the man who had the temerity to use it: The state fined the man $500.00 -- while ignoring everything of substance he said about a traffic hazard he was trying to help a local traffic authority correct:

In September 2014, Mats Järlström, an electronics engineer living in Beaverton, Oregon, sent an email to the state's engineering board. The email claimed that yellow traffic lights don't last long enough, which "puts the public at risk."

"I would like to present these facts for your review and comments," he wrote.

This email resulted not with a meeting, but with a threat. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying responded with this dystopian message:

"ORS 672.020(1) prohibits the practice of engineering in Oregon without registration ... at a minimum, your use of the title 'electronics engineer' and the statement 'I'm an engineer' ... create violations."
This is not the first time occupational licensing laws have infringed on freedom of speech, nor will it be the last, but I am glad to learn that the Institute for Justice has taken up the case:
"Mats has a clear First Amendment right to talk about anything from taxes to traffic rights," Sam Gedge, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, told me. "It's an instance of a licensing board trying to suppress speech."
Interested readers can read a brief press release about the lawsuit at the web site of the Institute for Justice.

-- CAV

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