Did Car Ad Kill? redux

Wheels of Justice Dept.

Remember when we posed this question?:

Allderblob readers want answers: Does car pornography in the daily papers link to the daily abuse wrought by cars? If car ads were stopped, would people stop killing with cars?

It was January 2006, and our question was far from hypothetical. In fact, it was in a post entitled “Did Car Ad Kill,” and it was in response to the Toronto Sun and Car Advertiser’s front page story (note the car ad at the bottom of the front page: can you say “cognitive dissonance?”):

DID CAR AD KILL (Toronto Sun cover, Jan 26 06)

You may remember that day: a shocking story, as these stories go: it featured two high school students, Wing-Piao Dumani Ross and Alexander Ryazanov, kids whose parents happened to have made the lapse of judgement of handing over the keys to the family Merde-cedes Benzes that day. The two chums, driving their parents’ cars up Mt. Pleasant Rd. in Toronto, felt the need to “hurry home.” Milk and cookies anyone? Or no, perhaps not. Perhaps it was to play the car-racing video game, “Need for Speed,” that was later found in the front passenger seat of the one of the cars.

Lucky for them, Mt. Pleasant is one of those suburban-style arterials that 1950s planners carved through Toronto, and allowed plenty of room to reach speeds, they say, of 140 km/hour (that’s the equivalent of 7 million pounds per square foot, for our American readers).

Of course speed was not the issue, in itself [it never is –ed.]. The issue was the fact that some poor schlemiel driving a cab, guy by the name of Tahir Khan, happened to be on some mission of his own at the time–not least, en route to what would have been his Canadian citizenship ceremony the next day–and got in the way of the speeding teens.

Boys will be boys, of course. At least that’s how the judge saw it: Khan is dead, but why dwell on the past? Khan won’t be driving anymore, but does that mean no one should?

Ross and Ryazanov, both now 20, who pleaded guilty to “dangerous driving causing death,” were released to the care of their dear old mums. Now, “dangerous driving causing death” is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. But as for Ross and Ryazanoff, well, they had pretty good lawyers. Perhaps being out of their tony prep school ($35 grand/year) for the trial freed up some cash. In any case, their punishment is they’re not to leave mom and dad’s for twelve months. Except to work and attend university, that is. Ouch! What a bore!

Oh, and after that there’s a year of curfew. “Garsh, Mary-Lou, I’d like to go to the hop with you, I really would. But there’s the small matter of how I killed this guy–it don’t mean nothin’, really, ceptin’ as how I gotta be home by ‘leven. But we’ll still have Facebook! Give me a dingle, promise?”

What they’ll still have is the “Need for Speed” (the video game that is). They’re prohibited from driving their parents’ real cars (or any others) for four years, but they say video graphics are getting better all the time–they say most folks imagine they’re in a video game as they drive anyway. Practice makes perfect!

In a just world, the two youngsters would have been sentenced to visit Pakistan, where they could have paid condolences to the family of Mr. Khan. The judge would have seen the connection between the driving and the death, and sentenced the youth to not four years of driving abstinence, but a lifetime of it [You say that like it’s a bad thing –ed.].

Of course, the media is all over this one. Not the Sun and Car Advertiser, bless them, they learned from their last mistake and haven’t covered the story at all. But the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser? Lordy.

Get a load of the editorial they wrote today: “Shocking leniency for street racers,” they cry. They go on:

Society has a strong interest in deterring drivers from recklessly endangering the lives of others on the road.

We would have liked to have read on, we really would, but you know, there was a car advertisement [isn’t there always? –ed.] that kept falling out of the paper and distracting us. At four full pages, it was awkward to keep pushing it back in place, and its capital letters shouted at us in a disturbing way: “ARE YOU READY TO MAKE WAY FOR A WHOLE NEW DRIVING EXPERIENCE TORONTO?”

Four pages, all saying the same thing: “Make way.”

Kind of bad timing, all things considered. And the irony was, it was an ad for Ford, not Merdecedes Benz! Hey, who’s gotta make way for whom around here?

Hmm, we found ourselves thinking. What a dilemma. More lipservice from the editorial board? Or more “anything goes to sell a car” from the inner reality of the newspaper?

Luckily, we found the comics page instead [Seems there’s always a third way, with you –ed.].

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