Halloween: Scary and Tragic

darknessThis is an acrimonious post. It’s not well written. It’s basically just a stream of consciousness. Pointless, really. I advise you to move along. –Ed.

Do you have happy memories of Halloween nights when you were a kid? Counting and sorting your loot? Secretly getting away with eating too much until you got sick?

If yes, then congratulations. You lived through the experience.

I know of at least four young people from Halloween 2014 that will never get the same chance.

The case you probably heard of happened in Los Angeles, California. On Halloween night a man hit and killed three little girls with his SUV while traveling at a “high rate of speed.” Two of the victims were twin sisters age 13. The third was their 13-year-old friend. The victims were thrown more than 100 feet. The man had a criminal record, was driving on a suspended license, had his two teen children in the car with him, and fled the scene. Another tragic case ending in hit and run. Fortunately the man has been caught. I scoured the news but can’t find any reports if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash. However, the man had a recent conviction (Aug. 4) for a DUI hit and run which is the reason his license was suspended.

In another case in Vancouver, Washington, on Halloween night a man driving a Ford Mustang jumped a curb and struck a 7-year-old girl, two adults and another 6-year-old girl. The 7-year-old girl was killed. This case didn’t appear to involve hit and run. (Witnesses reported the man walked a short distance before collapsing on the ground.) The driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash. The suspect told police he smokes 2-3 grams of marijuana a day and had a “joint” approx. three hours before the accident. A prosecutor said the man has an “extensive” criminal history.

The society in which we live is one where issues like hit and run and driving while intoxicated are given lip service and half measures until someone innocent gets killed, but by then it’s far too late. Meanwhile we send our children out on dark streets for free candy on a night when adults party like children themselves. Adults who don’t know when to say when or act responsibly.

The predictable outcomes are far too sad and could have been prevented. Something needs to be done.

What if we treated every instance of driving while intoxicated as attempted murder? Because that’s what it is. But we allow ourselves to become distracted, confused and conflicted based on the outcomes rather than the offense.

Consider two men: One drives with a BAC of three times the legal limit and hits a tree. The other drives just over the legal limit and kills a 42-year-old mother leaving behind three children and a husband. The first driver receives trivial punishments in the form of warnings and fees. The second driver gets a manslaughter charge and a few years in jail. Why aren’t both treated as attempted murder or, in the second case, simply murder? What bearing should the outcome have on the offense itself?

Perhaps such backbone in our criminal justice system could, possibly, have at least some deterrence value. The rest, of course, are too brain dead to consider any consequence beyond, “Me want. Now. Me have. Take. Take. Mine. Oooga oooga.” Either way they’d eventually be dealt with, one way or another.

A huge portion of our civilization operates without any form of empathy whatsoever. Even in regards to their very own short-term future. How the hell are we supposed to deal with that?

The case of hit-and-run is another area where we fall short. For that I propose a tracking device be installed in every vehicle bar none. Operating a vehicle without one would be a Class C felony. (Much like it’s against the law to drive without a license plate for obvious reasons.) Cops would have the ability to detect which cars were not broadcasting a signal. In any case involving hit and run the cops could then pull a report of all vehicles that were in the vicinity at the time of the incident. I imagine this would really help them crack the case.

The bottom line is the society is a system where people make safety decisions for persons other than themselves. We shouldn’t sacrifice innocent people in support of those who commit the worst behaviors. It’s wrong.

2 responses

  1. You pose important questions and I agree that we don’t deal with this epidemic appropriately. This issue needs to be addressed well before something bad happens. I have two concerns. The first is that while the risks inherent in our choices are relevant, we can’t prosecute people for something that did not happen. Sentencing is ultimately bound by damages, not possibilities. I shudder to think what kinds of outcomes our corrupt courts would produce vis a vis certain groups of people who are already disproportionately targeted and penalized by law enforcement. My second concern is that deterrence through heavier sentencing doesn’t work when we’re talking about people whose actions are fueled by a drug and/or alcohol addiction. One’s capacity for judgment speaks to culpability. If you’re high on bath salts and get into your car and run someone over, you need to be brought to justice (which of course involves rehab as well as being removed from society at large for a period of time). But the reason we call that manslaughter and not murder is because murder is a very specific legal term which necessitates intent. Intent simply isn’t there when a person is impaired particularly as a result of a disease. We have every right to get angry about these things but we can’t base our solutions on our emotional reactions. We can’t confuse addicts with assassins. Plus, from a practical standpoint I don’t think that will solve the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I adore this comment! That’s one hell of a paragraph. 🙂

      I’m going to ponder and respond later. Until then, here’s a tweet from a few days ago. I wonder what I was thinking about at the time?

      Liked by 1 person

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