Friday, October 18, 2002

I participated in (and lost, to get ahead of my story) a radio station contest the other night at a local shopping center. The details are too tedious to get into here, but the contestants had to do some talk-radio style extemporaneous speaking, and the first question we had to respond to was: "How would you capture the Beltway Sniper?"

Well, what was I supposed to say? Randomly shooting people to death is not exactly a controversial issue—most everybody is against it. I tried to make that point when I started my remarks by saying, "I'm going to have to take a bold anti-sniper position here," Unfortunately, the rest of my comments were so bland and lame that even I can't remember what they were. Don't most people agree that the person(s) responsible ought to be thrown roughly to the ground and stood upon in the neck area until they experience an epiphany? Was I supposed to have some insight on the matter that has eluded trained law enforcement experts? I can't even keep up with the internet pundits who believe the sniper killings are both highly organized and very probably government-sponsored.

I doubt that the perpetrators are any kind of super villians. Sometimes crimes go unsolved just because of unavoidable limitations in the enforcement and investigation process, not because the criminals are evil geniuses. People are understandably reluctant to dwell for long on the fact that the cops' ability to keep us safe is not absolute. Maybe if I had said all this at the contest the other night, I might have had a better chance of winning. But I doubt it.


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