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Today’s reason why we fail as a society

July 19, 2011

We have to be entering a dark ages.  There is no other possible explanation.  As a society we are becoming more ignorant on an astounding, almost breathtaking level.  And this proves it.  For those of you that don’t feel like clicking the link  (or if it dosent work)  I will give you a brief rundown.  An Atlanta area woman took her and her children home via bus.  Where the bus stop is located a cross walk is not provided.  In order for her to get home she would have to walk something like a quarter to a half mile down the road, cross the road, and trek a quarter to a half a mile back up the street so that she and her children could get to their apartment located directly across the street from the bus stop.  (Graphic below shows the relationship of the incident, home, bus stop, and the nearest crosswalk.)  She chose to cross the street at the bus stop, where one of her children was hit by a driver and died.  The mother was then charged and convicted with vehicular homicide; the driver: a hit and run.

Now before I go on my rant I will make it clear that yes I do understand that this was jaywalking, and that yes I do understand that this woman chose to put her and her children in a dangerous situation.  Something that I probably would not choose to do, but we also don’t fully understand what this woman’s situation was at the time, aside from the fact she was trying to get her three children home. 

With that disclaimer aside, I would like to emphatically, unequivocally state that this is complete and utter bullshit.  This is why, as a society, we are fucked. (I told myself I would limit the profanity in this medium, unlike my daily talk, but today is an exception.)

 Exhibit A.  According to the State of Georgia, vehicular homicide (or homicide by vehicle) is the unlawful killing of another person using a vehicle.  This woman may have made a poor decision on her part, and I emphasize MAY, which may have contributed to the death of her child, but it was not her use of a vehicle that lead to it.  So there is the first example of how a jury of six morons didn’t understand the law.  (I can think of another twelve they can find friends in somewhere in Florida.)  But someone, anyone please explain to me how a woman, who assuming the best, can cover up her child’s drowning, lie and mislead police, and be convicted of only a handful of misdemeanors, while a jaywalker is convicted of a variation of homicide.  Just saying.

That was really my only exhibit, as the rest are just frustrations.  But like the article I referenced stated, if this woman can be convicted of vehicular homicide, then how in the hell are the transportation planners and engineers not held responsible for such poorly executed roads?  In fact if you reference the image below, which represents roughly a square mile of the area, it is all residential, primarily single family.  Why the hell is a four to five lane road necessary in this type of environment in the first place (take note in how little traffic is actually on this road when the image was taken as well).  Most importantly, and the main point of this rant, is how have we gotten to a point in society where we value the movement of automobiles and the rate of speed in which they travel more so than human life.  Clearly the planning of our roads and destruction of our urban landscape has demonstrated that.  Our current model of transportation values that of the car and not the person, and it seems that much of this country has begun to realize the detriment in that.  So how is it 6 jurors, a judge, and a prosecutor, decided they would use this moment, not to draw attention to how unsuitable many of these environments have become for pedestrians, but to demonstrate furthermore, the dominance of the automobile and how wrong those are for walking?   

Now I am sure someone reading this is saying “But they were jaywalking, which is breaking the law.”  Let me be very very clear.  I do not give a shit.  Drivers do not pay attention at all.  My wife and I witnessed that over the weekend as we were legally crossing a street and were flipped off by some _____ who was on her phone and making a left turn in front of us.   She was required to yield, yet was pissed at us.  It is an example of how drivers do not regard their own rules, but do not pay attention to those around them.  So yes this lady and her child crossed at an inappropriate part of the road, but what must you possibly be doing while driving, that does not provide you with ample time to avoid running over a child?  Oh wait, that’s right, the idiot had been drinking and had some pain pills, and did I mention this asshole has actually been previously charged for a hit and run (twice in one day) and is partially blind in one eye.  Or maybe the speed of that road is too high, not allowing people enough time to brake for unexpected occurrences.  Or maybe, most importantly, drivers need to stop acting as if they rule the universe and that all living objects should bow down to them.  In other words, common courtesy, acknowledgement, and respect for those around you.

Likewise that applies to all of those involved in convicting this woman.  Questions should have been asked why this incident happened in the first place, and not just the superficial ones.  But hey, it’s easier to tell a mother and her three kids that she should have walked the additional mile, then to have to go through that cumbersome process of adding a crosswalk.  And then we wonder why Atlanta came in as the 11th most dangerous city for pedestrians.  With this case, it’s as if we were disappointed we didn’t nab the number one spot.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2011 3:23 am

    As a very frequent, as in 99% of the time pedestrian and / or bicyclist, I’d say this scene sums it up for me..

  2. Denise permalink
    July 25, 2011 7:03 pm

    Was it really illegal?

    http://peds.org/resources/pedestrian_right_of_way/

    (I meant to post here and not just on the picture)

    Here is a person raising her kids, working, going to school – everything you want in a citizen of this country – who makes a relatively small mistake, that cost her more than I’d wish on any enemy, and now her life is more than likely ruined with a conviction and possible jail time.

    Really?

    Even if you were cold-blooded and wanted her to pay for jay-walking – give her a ticket! What I mean is, even if you don’t care she has already paid the ultimate price and she *may* have been breaking the law, she may now have to turn to a life of crime (especially if she learns all of the tricks of the trade, having to join a gang to have protection, becomes someones booty-call, etc. from going to jail) to get by since she probably won’t be able to get a job or get a loan to finish school. And then that can lead to depression, which may lead to drugs, on and on. Economically, it is a disaster waiting to happen that we have total control over with a human trait called compassion and empathy (and a little common sense, seeing the big picture, and a little bit of education).

    Oh, wait! Human is the key word here!

    • UrbanCommuter permalink*
      July 25, 2011 8:06 pm

      Bravo on the research. If I am reading it right as well I believe that you are correct. According to that, the term jaywalking does not even exist in Georgia Law and that the only defined rules are to not cross diagonally and to yield for traffic if not in a cross walk. I think that pisses me off even more now, when combined with the unlawful conviction of vehicular manslaughter.

      And you are right, I wanted to comment on a lot of those problems this could lead to but I didn’t want to go too far down that slippery slope and have my post go even longer than I had originally written it, so thank you for doing it. All of those things are extremely reasonable possibilities if they do choose to throw the book at her. I think every juror and official involved in this case acted irresponsibly in an intent to prove a point while not putting themselves in her shoes.

      And that is what is all boils down to. Its a lack of humanity, a lack of common decency, respect, compassion, and a disregard for human life on so many levels. My hope is that there will be some lawyer out there willing to take on her case pro bono and appeal this.

  3. Denise permalink
    July 25, 2011 8:49 pm

    Definitely! That leads to my new questions – about the jury, ABOUT HER LAWYER! What the heck?!!! Out of any case in recent history, I would REALLY love to know what research they did and know everything about this case. If you are going to throw the book at someone, which could easily be any of us at any point in our lives, wouldn’t you do some hardcore research to be absolutely sure you are making the correct decision?! And if I weren’t allowed to research to that extent then my answer would have to automatically be “innocent”. Even if my gut said they weren’t. You shouldn’t play around with people’s life – and definitely not their children.

    Which brings another point up. Her living children. As history has shown, many times when people are shunned, treated terrible, etc., their children (and their children, etc. etc.) really show the most hostility and after-effects around it. The feelings this case gives some of us outsiders is awful but imagine how much it is magnified for her children and family. Like rings on a dart board, we are all on the outer ring while she and her kids are in the bulls-eye.

    I get on people’s cases, when I go for my civic duty of showing up for possible jury duty, when they complain and complain how jury duty is such a waste of time. It is an extremely important part of our country. As is innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Civics (and economics) should be mandatory classes for citizens – maybe a refresher is needed when you get your drivers license along with that human decency class!

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