Mountain Bike Atlas


Health and Fitness

Alexa Niles:

Scathing advice for the lovelorn.
Cultural and psychological accidents.
And other reflexes of the soul.

Dear Alexa,

I am afraid of going out in the streets in San Francisco at night. I think life has become cheap in this day and age and people are killing each other off like flies. At least that's the way the media seems to portray it -- every day, something new and sensational is happening until it just numbs you.

They're talking about putting a suicide barrier up on the Golden Gate Bridge, fer crissakes!

And I've been renting and watching more videos lately, after being a media hermit, and am shocked at the casual attitudes toward violence.

My question is regarding this killing in New York by Wendy Gardner and James Evans in New York of Betty Gardner, Wendy's grandmother. The girl is supposed to have gotten the boyfriend to do Grandma in -- to put a stop the autocratic beating by the Grandmother. The young couple then had sex in the same room with the body. Yecch.

Wendy will likely be getting a reduced sentence, after a substantial change in her testimony. What is the level of her guilt? Do you think she had a right to do in someone who she claims was abusing her?

Hiding in San Fran.

Dear Hiding,

Well, I have heard about the case, and I suppose that killing ole granny is what made it so prominent. It has the flare of a made-for-tv movie. The news just loves these tasty titbits of conspiracy. You know how many journalists would rather be writing movies!

But I don't know enough about it to give you a specific opinion of who deserves the guillotine and who doesn't. Even if I did, it's a dangerous question -- who did what to whom seems to have been settled, but will we ever know the subtleties of what caused it to happen? Unlikely.

How big a role should victims' rights play in the proceedings? This is a dangerous question when you're setting out to make Wendy the victim. Are you a lawyer?

So you want permission perhaps for justifiable homicide? I'm not buying it. I do not believe that we have a right to take another's life. Period. Who's to say that in their time a homeless person isn't to someday discover a cure for cancer? Are you prepared to be so certain? I'm not going to say that. Would you?

I firmly believe Wendy Gardner did not use up all of her options, and, even at age thirteen, I expect her to be a little more inventive. Even running away is a more responsible approach. The only reason poor ole granny should get it is if she was a direct, immediate and life-threatening danger to the girl. I've known some grannies like that.

Level of guilt? I don't dare touch that one. John Stuart Mill said we have to if we're going to be a democracy, we have to defend the rights of the 99 as strongly as we have to defend the rights of the 1. I appreciate you're considering the rights of the girl, but put yourself in both the boyfriend's shoes and the dead granny's while you're at it.

Take Heaven's Gate. I support any man's right to kill himself and consider it perhaps the final positive biological resource. If forty people want to get together and do it, then that's a party!

I think this world is overpopulated and that we are not really in love with the great gift we have been given. We have to nurture this life and this planet if we are to survive. Therefore, when forty people decide to off themselves, I figure they were really bored here.

But they didn't take anyone else's life, so I don't have a problem with it. Besides, they were tidy.

The suicide barrier is just plain daft. Now there's an issue.

If somebody's intent upon doing themselves in, we should make it easier on them. At any rate, they're certainly apt to find other avenues. In the history of the bridge, only something like a thousand people have jumped. That's a long time for only a thousand jumpers. But at least several hundred thousand people walk across that bridge every year, and millions of commuters drive across it every year, and I'm just guessing so I'm sure my figures are low.

So, our puritanical American mores, afraid of death at every turn, is going to deal with this issue a la obscura! It's going to block the views of the living, and probably cause more accidents due to the closed-in feel and restricted vision, and will probably hold the exhaust in too. Maybe the fog! It's a really pretty bridge to do that to. Just plain daft!

As far as hiding in the city goes, you should get out more. San Francisco's a great town!


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