Guilty until proven innocent — repeatedly

I’ve written before how much I enjoy “Car Talk” on National Public Radio. One of the (many) fun bits are the guys’ habits of piling nicknames on people they like. They finally had to reset one of their advisor’s list, after it reached a certain limit (John “Bugsy” “Sebastian” “Sweet-cheeks” “Mr. Height” “Twinkle-Toes” “Donut-Breath” “Make that two triple cheeseburgers” Lawlor) — I think it was when they couldn’t say them all in one breath.

Another of their lackeys is David E. “Rain Man” Greene, their associate producer. And I was surprised to see that Rain Man had made the Boston Glob this morning.

It turns out that he’s had recurring problems with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. More specifically (and especially ironically), their Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Apparently, there is another David E. Greene who shares Rain Man’s date of birth. And just like a soap opera, he’s the Evil Twin of Rain Man.

Evil Twin lives in Florida. He’s a convicted sex offender with a long string of DWI arrests, failure to appears, and other assorted offenses that keep him from legally having a driver’s license. And Massachusetts is convinced that Rain Man is Evil Twin.

A few years ago, Massachusetts connected the two men and decided to revoke Rain Man’s driver’s license. He had to get countless forms of documentation — showing that he and Evil Twin had different middle names and Social Security numbers, and even got a letter from Florida’s DMV — to convince Massachusetts that he wasn’t Evil Twin. It finally worked, and Massachusetts reluctantly relented.

Until his license came up for renewal. A records check was run again, and once again Rain Man had to defend himself against charges that he was, indeed, Evil Twin, hoping to escape his sordid Sunshine State past. Once again, Rain Man ran around and collected all the proof he could that he was innocent.

Until the next time his license came up for renewal. Once again, Rain Man is having to prove he is not Evil Twin.

Registry officials freely admit that their system is highly automated. If it finds enough similarities between an applicant and an existing dirtbag who isn’t entitled to have a license, it presumes they’re one and the same and sends out the rejection/suspension letter. It’s then up to the person to prove their innocence.

Other states actually take steps to prevent such things. Florida, for example, as cited in the story, uses Social Security numbers and has never mistaken Evil Twin for Rain Man. But Massachusetts says that with the burden of having to manage five million drivers’ licenses, it simply can’t manage the effort needed to keep Rain Man and others in his boat from getting yanked around every couple of years.

Here’s the real kicker: when asked how Rain Man can avoid this happening again, this is what a Registry representative has to say:

Massachusetts officials offer little comfort: “If the bad David Greene doesn’t resolve his situation in the other state, this is unfortunately going to come up again,” Deveney said.

That’s right. If Rain Man wants to atone for the heinous crime of having the same first and last name and date of birth as this dirtbag, he must travel to Florida and help a convicted drunk driver and incarcerated sexual predator clean up his act and get HIS privilege to drive restored. Once Evil Twin is rehabilitated, then — and only then — will Massachusetts stop punishing him. It’s like a twisted version of Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” skit.

Personally, I think Rain Man ought to sue both his and Evil Twin’s parents for having their sons on the same day and naming them so similarly.

And there’s currently a push in Massachusetts to grant drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. They currently can’t tell tall, dark-haired David Edward Greene (“Rain Man”) who’s walking around free in Massachusetts from shorter, blond David Eugene Greene, currently locked up as a chronic sex offender in Florida. They complain that they already have too many licenses to keep track of.

At that point, I would endorse every other state refusing to accept a Massachusetts driver’s license as a valid form of identification for ANYTHING, because they’ll be about as trustworthy as a wooden nickel.

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