This is another article addressing the horrendous tragedy that occurred in our community on the night of Feb. 23. I hope to bring a perspective slightly different from those currently circulating around the campus. Now, it’s obvious to everyone that we have collectively experienced a horrible tragedy that is as shocking as could conceivably be, and it is bringing Isla Vista’s image to the point of the surreal.
Every one of us has cursed and damned David Attias to hell, and many of us have written the incident off as a deranged druggie’s rampage. Focusing on the individual in that manner denies the problems Isla Vista has and shirks responsibility that would interrupt our daily routines. Further, the drugs themselves, whether or not they caused Attias’ actions, are a very real part of Isla Vista, not a fluke. So maybe it is time to look past the devilish bearer of our misfortune to the real difficulty, which is deeply embedded in Isla Vista’s logistical mess. Gail Marshall’s job is already in dire straits because of the previous disregard she has shown for Isla Vista’s serious safety issues, so she should listen up.
Drugs are much too large a part of the I.V. lifestyle. Of course, there’s almost nothing we can do about that, because taking drugs, not ideally, but practically, is ultimately a matter of individual choice. Someone who wants to take drugs can almost always be clever enough to find a way to get and consume drugs, if they are determined. It’s equally inevitable that drunken students will flock to DP and Sabado as if it were Jay Gatsby’s house. The same applies to drivers – if a driver is hell-bent on killing someone on the street, they have an excellent chance of being able to do it. This is why it is stressed so often in driver’s education classes that driving is a privilege, and not a right. Cars are only allowed on the roads on the assumption that the people driving them will do so with the utmost respect, and further, that they will take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel. Whether Attias was on drugs or crazy, or whatever, is not the point. It’s far too easy to cast him aside as crazy and pass off the incident as a fluke. The real point is that I.V. drivers are given too many opportunities on party nights to create horrible tragedies.
We’re given so many civil liberties in the United States. But, sometimes these civil liberties begin to overlap each other and cross wires. In this case, it’s a driver’s liberties versus a pedestrian’s liberties. And there’s an added splash of color to this match, a chair in the ring, so to speak. That chair is the aforementioned supply of drugs and alcohol available to both drivers and pedestrians. So, we’ve got a variety of drugs, hundreds of cars and thousands of pedestrians. That’s a formula for disaster, and we have to take one of those factors out of the equation.
We certainly can’t stop people from walking the streets on weekend nights, and we can’t go into people’s houses or cars to arrest them for possessing drugs without probable cause. To do those things would be to violate everyone’s fundamental rights as Americans. However, driving is merely a privilege – it is in no sense necessary for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, whereas walking and privacy are. I’ve lived without a car in I.V. for three and a half years, and I’m just fine. That’s my bias. But, given the choice between those three liberties, any rational person must take the rights of walking and privacy over the right to drive, and therefore, in this situation, drivers must suffer. And they must suffer as long as the carefree festivities continue, which may be forever.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to limit access for vehicles on Del Playa and Sabado Tarde on Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t have a solid plan about how to do it, and I know that some people would be angry at the inconvenience of not being able to get around as easily at those times. People need to feel safe walking the streets of Isla Vista.
My love to the grieving.
Nathan Speed is a senior philosophy major.