City Life - Let the Punishment Fit the Crime 

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There on the news was the mangled remains of John Stockton’s car. Good Lord! Was he dead, or maybe life support? He’s a tough guy, but could he have survived the crash? The car was in worse shape than Princess Diana’s Mercedes, and you know what happened to her.

But then the reporter came on and explained that Stockton’s car had been totaled four years ago by another vehicle running a red light. By the grace of God and NBA Commissioner David Stern, there were no injuries. The smashed car was a show and tell for the mayor’s initiative to stop people from running red lights. I’m with Deedee on this one.

You could tell she’s serious about this because she was wearing her green dress, not the red one, which probably wouldn’t be appropriate, considering the subject.

People are getting creamed, crippled, maimed and separated from earthly existence by idiots running red lights. It is now getting worse by the day—you can’t go out for a carton of milk or even a fine cigar without exposing yourself to mortal danger.

Just the other day I was traveling south on 1300 East when the light on 300 South changed to yellow. I was at least a half-block from the intersection, and started to apply the brakes. But then I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw a silver BMW bearing down on me like a run-away locomotive. I would have run the red light to avoid being rear-ended, except for the inconvenient fact of traffic already proceeding through the intersection on their green light. The BMW swerved to the right at the last moment, screeching into the intersection and just missing a van going east.

The well-groomed blonde in the BMW looked at me with a shrug and a titter, and then mouthed Sor-ree. It was as if our shopping carts had bumped in the soup aisle at Albertson’s.

The woman clearly was going on the assumption that I would run the red light, and jeezo-peezo, why shouldn’t she just follow me on through? We’ve now got to the stage where not one, but two and sometimes three vehicles will run the same red light. Now law-abiding drivers are subject to double jeopardy—mayhem not just from being side-swiped, but also from being rear-ended.

When I saw that BMW growing big in the rear-view mirror, I had to make a split-second decision. In retrospect, I should have come to a normal stop and allowed the well-groomed blonde driver to crunch my trunk into the back seat. I could have emerged from the wreckage clutching my neck, and sued the hell out of her. I could have received residuals for years to come by appearing in commercials for personal injury law firms. A nice neck brace, and speaking with just the right mixture of chronic pain and heartfelt gratitude for all the personal attention from my attorneys.

Increased fines for running red lights will not solve the problem. We need stronger measures. How about tire spikes that poke up as soon as the light turns red? Or some sort of trap door in the intersection that would send violators deep into the earth?

Lebanon is now staging public hangings, and while I wouldn’t go quite that far, I would have nothing against public floggings. We could stage them in the middle of construction mess on Main Street. The spectacle would have the added benefit of boosting business for the dying downtown merchants.

I saw where they want to run bulls through the streets of Mesquite. That gives me another idea. How about dressing up red light offenders in neon red latex jump suits and have them sprint across the street just when yellow turns to red? Like one of those old-time arcade games where you try to hit moving cardboard ducks with an air gun. A driver running a red light who clipped a sprinter would have his fine substantially reduced.

If we get working on this now, we could make it into something more than just a fun activity on the weekend. Since the kids would love it, why not make it an Olympic event in 2002? We could call it Street Slalom, and the moral instruction provided would be entirely consistent with the Olympic Spirit. Furthermore, since projections indicate that 37 percent of the sprinters would be stuck as they dashed against the light, the number of repeat offenders would decrease considerably.

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