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Jewish World Review Oct. 21, 2002/ 15 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

Zigzag to avoid a bullet? Why not pull a rabbit out of your hat? | Memo To: Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles A. Moose
From: Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose

Hello out there in TV Land! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. That's me, Bullwinkle. But Hokey Smokes, it's been so long!

Anyhow, Rocky and I are writing today to offer our assistance as you try to capture the dastardly sniper who's getting all the airtime these days.

We have learned a few things you may find helpful. Plus, we're a little concerned about some of the advice being handed out to terrified residents of the area.

Zigzag? We'll get to that in a moment, but first it has occurred to us that Boris Badenov's secret weapon is once again being deployed. You may remember "goof gas," which provoked an epidemic of intense stupidity?

OK, we'll get to the point. Of gravest concern is the advice that shoppers and other pedestrians "zigzag" as they go about their daily business. We understand where you're coming from. We've watched the same movies and football games, and zigzagging does seem to thwart the archenemy at times.

Rocky notes the following:

"I think I speak for squirrels everywhere when I say 'Yah right.' We zigzag better than most rodents and still end up in the stew pot with alarming regularity. Why do you think I learned to fly?

"Ditto on the advice to 'keep moving.' As in, 'A moving target is more difficult to hit than one that is standing still.' Witness the squirrel carnage on any American roadway. They were certainly moving."

Here's some of the other advice we take issue with:

"If you must remain in one place in an area where you feel vulnerable, select the darkest part of the area to sit or stand in."

Now really, is this good advice? Stand or sit in the darkest place you can find? Why not sponsor an open house for rapists and muggers? Serve appetizers. Offer free door prizes. How about this for good advice:

"Do not under any circumstances sit or stand in one place, especially if you feel vulnerable." Doesn't this make more sense for people trafficking in an area known to be the human target Mecca (no pun intended whatsoever) of a sniper?

This one's really rich: "If you are fired on in an open area, drop to the ground and roll away from where you were standing. Look for the closest protective cover and run toward it in short, zigzag dashes."

Righto. So far, unless we've missed something, the sniper has only needed to get off one shot to hit his target. So far, he's 11 for 11. Invariably, his target drops to the ground, though there isn't much in the way of zigzag dashes thereafter.

Aside from the fact that Americans, whom we know to have a sense of humor, see this advice for what it is -- empty, pathetic, ludicrous products of goof gas -- police are giving the false impression that officials are on top of the situation and people will be safe just so long as they follow these directions.

In our hometown of Frostbite Falls, this is the sort of bullwinkie that will get you laughed out of town. Let's just say, our noses are in perfectly good working order, and this smells like stupid.

With all due respect, we'd like to recommend that until you catch the bad guys, you not insult the viewing public with silly "to do" lists that are more likely than not to get them killed. Note that the sniper has responded to each police comment (read: "dare") with a bull's-eye. He hasn't hit any schools? Bang, a student. No head shots? Bang, a head shot.

Sniper to self: "Go ahead and zigzag. Make my day."

At the current rate of police efficacy, and in light of criminology standards recently demonstrated, we respectfully submit that you might as well have hired a flying squirrel and a moose to solve this serial crime. Ahem, at your service.

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