Our fictitious hero Rumpole of the Bailey liked to say that a public defender is “a taxi plying for hire,” bluntly explaining to his clients that he was “duty bound to take on any client, however repellent.”
But his taxi metaphor has gone the way of the passenger pigeon, now that cabdrivers are being urged to screen potential riders for political acceptability.
“Cabdrivers Refuse To Pick Up Racists After Philadelphia Rally With Proud Boys!” asserts HuffPost with satisfaction. It shows cellphone videos of three cabs driving away empty from a rally of about 30 conservatives called “We, the People.” Which, according to the Huff, included “at least two” Proud Boys.
The videos also show that the cabs are surrounded by cops and some of the 300 counter-demonstrators who turned up at the rally brandishing signs saying things like, “Nazi scum not welcome.” But when the Nazi scum obligingly tried to leave, the righteous urged the cabdrivers to refuse to take them. It’s unclear whether the cabbies complied out of political conviction or sensibly reasoned that it was better to lose a fare than risk having a bunch of indignants banging on their windshields.
Still, the idea might catch on.
Scene: Rainy Saturday night after a Knicks game.
Drenched couple: Taxi! Taxi! Oh, thank heavens, a cab!
Cabdriver: Not so fast. What do you think about climate change?
Drenched couple: Huh?
Cabdriver: I’m talking about the statistical distribution of weather patterns over an extended period of time.
Drenched couple: Yes, yes, we support zero carbon emissions —
Cabdriver: Ha! And putting me out of a job! (Drives off).
Drenched woman: I guess we’d better stay off politics if we ever want to get home.
Drenched man: Taxi! Taxi! We’re completely neutral, non-alligned persons.
Cabdriver: Oh, yeah? What are your views on abortion?
Drenched man: It’s the woman’s right to choose.
Drenched woman: It’s the murder of a human being.
Cabdriver: Nice try, but you can’t fool me. What’s your solution to the Middle East situation? Falling interest rates? Brexit? Hey, where’re you going, I’m not finished!
Drenched couple: Never mind, we’ll walk the 48 blocks to the subway. At least we don’t have to sign a loyalty oath to buy a Metro Card.
Cabdriver: Heh, heh. Wait til they see the new Metro Card machines.