Author Topic: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom  (Read 501 times)

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Online Nam

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Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« on: March 07, 2014, 10:35:10 AM »
Atheist Group Demands Cross Removal
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A long-running dispute involving the mother of a Southern California man who was killed as he crossed a street and an atheist rights group appeared to head to a conclusion Thursday with the planned removal of roadside crosses she placed in his memory.

The removal comes after an organization that promotes the rights of atheists and other nonreligious people called the cross on city-owned property a "serious constitutional violation" in a letter to city council of Lake Elsinore, a western Riverside County community.

"It's like I'm losing my son again, pretty much," said Ann Marie Devaney, through tears, as she removed two crosses. "It hurts when you lose a child."

But just as she removed the crosses, a group of people put up six more.

"It just really got to me," Emily Johnson, . "I have kids. I just can't believe how insensitive people are."

Devaney had placed the white crosses on the side of Lake Street near a freeway exit ramp after her 19-year-old son was killed in May 2012. Anthony Devaney was struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle driver as he crossed the street near the 15 Freeway.

Nearly two years later, she removed the crosses after a Lake Elsinore resident and the American Humanist Association pursued the symbol's removal with the city.

Ann Marie Devaney arrived at the site early Thursday to mourn her son, hours before she removed the tribute.

"It's so petty and sad that they have to complain over removing a cross," she said. "It's his personal preference that he was Christian. What's wrong with having a cross up?"

The mother of the teen driver who struck and killed Anthony Devaney was among the cross visitors Thursday morning. She told NBC4 Southern California she opposes the cross removal.

"That's their memorial, that's where they go to grieve," said Laurie Howanec.

The American Humanist Association also successfully fought Lake Elsinore's plan for a veterans monument that depicted a service member kneeling next to a cross at a grave site. In a February ruling, a U.S. District Court judge ruled the planned memorial -- which must be redesigned -- at a minor league baseball stadium was unconstitutional.

In its letter to the City Council, the group cites complaints about Devaney's cross memorial from a Lake Elsinore resident. The city removed the cross in December 2013 after requests from the resident, but Devaney returned the cross to the property.

"The city's selective enforcement of its signage ordinance and its display of the Christian cross on government property violates the state and federal Constitutions, and must therefore be removed immediately," the letter states.

Where I live it's illegal to have them not because of atheists, or anything, but because it was determined they are a road hazard. But, and not to sound callous, I think they're useless. If you're religious then your loved one's spirit is in heaven and not hanging out where they died. You don't set crosses or teddy bears etc., in hospital beds because that would be stupid, and in the way of others. I get the mourning process; I have a great aunt who got hit by a train. Imagine if my family decided to put a memorial on the railroad track where she died. That would be a hazard. It's illegal where I live because of this. In some States billboards aren't allowed; my area in my state has been thinking of making them illegal because in particular areas they are distracting.

What's your view?

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

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Offline Dante

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 10:43:33 AM »
You don't set crosses or teddy bears etc., in hospital beds because that would be stupid,

I never thought of that before. Good call.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Online wright

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 11:02:09 AM »
I can understand wanting to commemorate the site of a death. But when that site is on public property (a road shoulder, an intersection), then the grievers should understand that no, they can't make that place theirs. Nor is invoking their religion a trump card, or shouldn't be.

If you need another reminder of your beloved dead, then put it on your private property: a ten-foot cross of I-beams illuminated by spotlights in your backyard is fine (though your homeowner's association might want a word).
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 11:06:22 AM by wright »
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Online ParkingPlaces

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 11:09:08 AM »
Sadly they are not illegal in Montana, and on top of that, the state puts a cross by the road everywhere a fatal accident took place, and leaves it there for, I think, about 7 years. Though, if I remember right, some civic minded group actually takes care of them, not the government. I'm not sure about that part.

And there are roads where there is a cross every mile, and this in a state where the annual traffic death total is under 150 a year (but our per 100,000 rate is twice the national average)

The public ones are bad enough. The private ones are indeed a nuisance. And many last for much more than 7 years. There is a roadside cross south of where I live about 15 miles that a)has been there since I moved here in 1989 and b) has a little white picket fence and a two foot, nicely mown lawn. Others are constantly re-adorned with beads and ribbons and christmas wreaths, etc. on a regular basis. Both the private and state ones.

And Nam is absolutely right. We don't mark or cherish the place of death where others kicked the bucket. We don't cherish the places where people got murdered or dropped dead of a heart attack at the mall. There is no rhyme nor reason.

Oh, and not all traffic victims die at the scene. Many die on the way to the hospital, or in the hospital. So accuracy is not too important either.

As human flaws go, though, I wish this was the worst one. It isn't even close.

Psychologists have recognized that in the realm of time, there are three basic types of people. Those that live in the present, those that live in the future, and those that live in the past. Among those that live in the past are those that are caught up in genealogy. And presumably, in putting crosses by the road. Those that live in the future can save for retirement like a boss but don't seem to do anything about their needs today. And those of us who live in the present give no thought to all the time we're wasting not the Internet when we could be accomplishing something useful that would help us in the long run. So we've all got our quirks.

I just don't mark mine with a cross or a teddy bear. There aren't enough in the world.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Online Nam

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 11:12:53 AM »
I can understand wanting to commemorate the site of a death. But when that site is on public property (a road shoulder, an intersection), then the grievers should understand that no, they can't make that place theirs. Nor is invoking their religion a trump card, or shouldn't be.

If you need another reminder of your beloved dead, then put it on your private property: a ten-foot cross of I-beams illuminated by spotlights in your backyard is fine (though your homeowner's association might want a word).

Also, and again not to sound callous, that's why cemeteries exist. I don't go to the hospice where my grandfather died to "visit" him, I go to his grave. I don't place flowers where he died, I place them on his grave. And why would anyone want to go where a loved one was killed to remember them?--that, to me, is demented.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 11:19:27 AM »
A couple of toddlers were killed at a busy intersection near to where I live about a year ago.

Residents (not just the families) placed flowers and teddy bears at the spot for quite a while afterwards as it was big news locally and a lot of people heard about it. I don't think that this was about commemorating the dead so much as expressing sympathy for the families.

I didn't have a problem with these non-permanent symbols of what I guess is empathy. I would have had a problem if the site were made a permanent shrine as you are right nam, graveyards already serve that purpose.

Online Nam

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 12:15:11 PM »
They're still a danger to other people. I don't know what the average speed limits are where y'all live but where I live, since I live in a rural area, is 60 MPH which means most go between 65 MPH and 85 MPH. In town it's usually 45-50 MPH except in residential/school and downtown areas where it is 25-40 MPH. There is one turn where it's a long turn but a sharp one that goes to a bridge, and the posted speed limit is 50 (down from 65) MPH on the turn but most tend to do the 65+ anyway, and several crashes over the years happen there. Someone (not the county) put a county sign out there that reads "Dead Man's Curve", and the county actually left it there. When people started placing crosses, flowers etc., out there more accidents happened and that's when they passed that law but just not there, everywhere in the area. Anyone found placing such things are fined, anyone who continues to do it is jailed.

An interstate, or highway can be just as dangerous even if a long stretch of road because speed limits could be 70 MPH with the average person probably doing 80+, and that can be a an unnecessary hazard.

Imagine it in a well populated city. In parts of Orange County (FL) they are only allowed on certain days (like voting day) etc., passed that: they are not allowed at all.

There are already enough "hazards", we don't need more on the road.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline Boots

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 12:43:10 PM »
ignoring the (very real, and one I agree with) issue of road hazzard, there's a real problem with this practice: equal opportunity.

there should be other medieval torture devices used to commemorate folks' deaths, shouldn't there?  Why isn't the Rack, the Iron Maiden ("Excellent!!"), or disembowling knives used to commemorate deaths?  Why only the source of the word "excruciating?"  It's just not fair.  If you're going to display medieval torture devices, then don't be whimpy about it and stop at one.
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Online jaimehlers

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 11:43:40 AM »
Honestly, if she really wants to do something to honor the memory of her son, I would think that starting a public education campaign about roadside deaths would be a far more effective tribute than simply putting crosses up.  Drivers often don't even notice such things, or understand why they're there, so on top of being a potential hazard, they're largely useless to boot.

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2014, 02:03:48 PM »
^^^Preventing similar deaths is a far better legacy and memorial, I agree. This woman is entitled to her grief, but not to the point of making a personal memorial on public property.

As a followup, it seems some reactionaries see a tragic death as a platform for venting:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/03/09/after-family-removes-roadside-cross-honoring-their-dead-son-several-nasty-replacement-crosses-take-its-place/

Christians as full of privilege and ignorance as that aren't doing their religion any favors.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Online Nam

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2014, 02:35:24 PM »
^^^Preventing similar deaths is a far better legacy and memorial, I agree. This woman is entitled to her grief, but not to the point of making a personal memorial on public property.

As a followup, it seems some reactionaries see a tragic death as a platform for venting:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/03/09/after-family-removes-roadside-cross-honoring-their-dead-son-several-nasty-replacement-crosses-take-its-place/

Christians as full of privilege and ignorance as that aren't doing their religion any favors.

"Minore" 3 hours ago:
Quote
Imagine if we put up memorials of our loved ones who died in hospital rooms.Would that be disconcerting and distracting to other patients who now had to occupy those rooms? Would it be appropriate?

It's the same with a roadside memorial. It's sad your family member is dead, but where they died is irrelevant: putting up a roadside memorial on public land is distracting to other drivers and inappropriate.

[bold mine]

What I say above.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline screwtape

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2014, 08:57:14 AM »
They are all over the flipping place in NJ.  And what's more, the have actual stones with placques for cops and other first responders.[1]

I don't get the point of them.  Do these people not have actual graves?  That is what tombstones are for.  What is the point of putting these memorials near where they died?  Is it to appease the spirits?  Do they think their ghosts are there?

I think it is a very primitive instinct at work.  And people do not really think about what they are doing.  They feel emotional, so they do this thing which they feel will help with the grief. 

Personally, I think they should be outlawed.  We have graveyards for this sort of thing.  There is no reason to clutter up the roads with this primitive nonsense.
 1. Or maybe it's PA I'm thinking of?
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 03:21:38 PM »

"It's like I'm losing my son again, pretty much,"

So a removal of few sticks is the same as the physical death of your child? So you really didn't care about your child but the amount of emotional milage you could get out of said child's  existence or lack of existence. That seems to be what this statement indicates.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 03:25:31 PM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Online Nam

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2014, 03:41:01 PM »
It's selfishness...and that's fine as long there isn't a hazard or potential hazard to others.

My cousin just died of a brain tumor but his parents aren't going to put flowers or crosses on his death bed. Why? Because that'd be stupid.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2014, 04:40:09 PM »
I agree with most of you in general about the roadside memorials. No, they do not make any real logical sense, and no there should not be big religious displays on public property, especially where they pose a hazard.

However, I would not try to stop a bereaved person from putting a small cross in a quiet street corner near where their loved one died. I do not know how old this practice is or what the cultural origins are, but I have noticed it more among the latino community. (At least that is who does it more in my neighborhood.)

What most people do about death is not rational-- of course the dead person's soul or spirit is not lingering at the death site. I myself would be kinda creeped out every time I passed the place if there was a permanent marker where my relative died.

But even cemetaries are not rational-- why use the land that way for a dead person? The rational thing to do is to cremate or give the body for research. I think everyone should do this. But most people's reactions to death are still holdovers from more scary primitive times.

I think people should be allowed to put up their memorials. But the size of the cross or whatever symbol should be regulated to keep it from being a hazard, and there should be a time limit after which it is removed, say a year. Otherwise, the anti-memorial group comes across as the parody of what religious people think of atheists-- people who don't have any empathy at all for the relatives of someone who has died.

Nobody here would say to the grieving parent, "Your kid is not in heaven, he's rotting and being eaten by worms. What a waste. You should have donated his body to the CSI people for research. And hey, he was young, poor and latino, so statistically, he was going to end up dead one way or another. At least the car crash was quick."

I am afraid that people hear the above when we say, "You cannot symbolically mark this spot where your kid died. And BTW, crosses are stupid." 

Lots of things are stupid and we need to pick our battles. :P
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline natlegend

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2014, 05:11:00 PM »
In Tasmania the government puts up markers in places where people have died or there has been a car accident. The fatality markers are thin black poles with a red cross for each death, and the accident markers are thin black poles with a white dash.

Now look, I'm fine with people wanting to mark the place where their loved one died, but I find it personally distracting when I am driving. I think it is dangerous. In the Northern Territory where I currently reside there are no restrictions, so you'll see intersections and trees and posts just covered with flowers and stuffed toys and the like. EXTREMELY distracting, and it should not be allowed.

I'm not against crosses as markers, but I AM against markers in general. It's just too dangerous for other road users.
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Offline hickdive

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2014, 04:14:51 PM »
I had the unfortunate experience of having a child die, effectively in my arms, when I was first on the scene of a road accident.

The little memorial put by the roadside was a major distraction every time I drove by it for years afterwards.

I don't think they should be allowed.
Stupidity, unlike intelligence, has no limits.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2014, 04:56:17 PM »
^^^That's why I think they should be time limited. Not too far from my house a police officer was killed. People left flowers, cards and other signs of support and sympathy on the sidewalk near the site. It was definitely a distraction, but after a few weeks it was gone. Serve its purpose, to show support for the family and other officers in the community. But no need to have it there forever.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2014, 10:33:36 PM »
I hate them. They creep me out. Not only are they visually distracting, but I have a very active imagination, and I start wondering how they died. I, too, don't think they should be allowed. Man, if someone I loved was killed, the last thing I'd want is a reminder of their violent death.
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Offline natlegend

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2014, 04:52:10 AM »
I had the unfortunate experience of having a child die, effectively in my arms, when I was first on the scene of a road accident.

I am very sorry that this happened to you (and the child, of course). I work as a news camera operator and have hence been present at many road accident scenes where people have died. However, I have taken every care not to film dead people (not that we would be allowed to broadcast it anyway). I cannot imagine anything worse than being present as someone dies. I hope that you are now okay and have been able to process the experience and move on.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2014, 05:41:49 AM »
In the UK, we are beset by people putting bunches of flowers, teddy bears, (crosses not so much), etc. at the scenes of fatal accidents. There was one, a flower vase tied to a lamppost, that must have been there for 5 years. It was filled with flowers monthly but towards the end of the month they were just rotting. I often thought that (a) putting a small message on it to say, "Some time, the grieving has to stop." and (b) if there is more than one death, the local administration needs to discover why there have been deaths at that spot and cure the danger that is obviously there.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2014, 04:01:22 PM »
I hate them. They creep me out. Not only are they visually distracting, but I have a very active imagination, and I start wondering how they died. I, too, don't think they should be allowed. Man, if someone I loved was killed, the last thing I'd want is a reminder of their violent death.

I agree I don't want to see a reminder of someone's violent death every time I drive past a certain site. There are a lot of these in my region, including two small crosses and some flowers at the end of my block where a Mexican lady's son was run over a few years ago.[1]

Like, after you break up with someone, you will see the night spot where you first met, the park where you used to walk, the cafe where you ate lunch every Friday and get sad about the breakup.[2]

But I read a piece once by a person who said they remembered the place anyway and got sad anew every time they passed, even without a marker there as a reminder. I guess the point here is, if the sad person will see the place and remember without a marker, why do the rest of us also have to see the place and feel sad even though we didn't even know the person?

That primitive need to transcend the painful finality of death, I guess...But since most of the people who do this are religious, don't they think the person lives on in heaven or something anyway?  :-\ :?
 1. I once saw the lady fixing up the site and talked to her-- I actually gave her five bucks to buy more flowers. I am such the soft touch atheist.... :P
 2. For some reason, seeing the dance club where you found him with someone else, the alley in back where he hit you, the store he later robbed and the corner where he was arrested don't fill you with equal measures of happiness that you are rid of the bum... 
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 04:05:50 PM by nogodsforme »
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2014, 06:49:28 PM »
Road hazard: asshole[1] driving past slower vehicle illegally, on a hill that is also a sharp curve and almost hits me head on.

Idiot asshole drivers are the biggest hazards on the road. I mean, one can't wait for the pass to be legal? That was at noon today, three hours later idiot asshole semi truck driver thinking he can pass three vehicles before he hits the oncoming car. WE behind him stop, the oncoming car veers into a field, the truck ahead of him speeds up like a motherfucker on speed and the Semi jacknives--IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! The driver was okay; he wasn't drunk, he wasn't tired, he was late. It took 40 minutes for police/rescue to get out there.

 Who knew Florida has nothing for miles around? Of course we were somewhat near Ocala but I have no clue where we were.

 I doubt it'll make the news: no one was hurt or died.

-Nam
 1. not me
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline hickdive

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2014, 08:10:43 AM »
I had the unfortunate experience of having a child die, effectively in my arms, when I was first on the scene of a road accident.

I am very sorry that this happened to you (and the child, of course). I work as a news camera operator and have hence been present at many road accident scenes where people have died. However, I have taken every care not to film dead people (not that we would be allowed to broadcast it anyway). I cannot imagine anything worse than being present as someone dies. I hope that you are now okay and have been able to process the experience and move on.

The most upsetting thing was that because he was trapped, hanging upside down in the wreckage, I could get to him by clambering through the rear window but couldn't extricate him to apply CPR.
Stupidity, unlike intelligence, has no limits.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2014, 10:45:13 AM »
^^^^ :'( :(
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Boots

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #25 on: March 19, 2014, 12:38:58 PM »
The most upsetting thing was that because he was trapped, hanging upside down in the wreckage, I could get to him by clambering through the rear window but couldn't extricate him to apply CPR.

That...is one of the suckiest, most unpleasant things I've ever heard.  You have my sincere sympathies for having experienced that.
* Religion: institutionalized superstition, period.

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Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Road Hazard or Religious Freedom
« Reply #26 on: March 19, 2014, 12:55:54 PM »
The most upsetting thing was that because he was trapped, hanging upside down in the wreckage, I could get to him by clambering through the rear window but couldn't extricate him to apply CPR.

That...is one of the suckiest, most unpleasant things I've ever heard.  You have my sincere sympathies for having experienced that.

Ditto...I would imagine that's something that would haunt your memory forever. You would need to be a very strong person, IMO, even not to have it severely impact your daily functioning for a very long time.

On the broad subject of these crosses/makeshift memorials, I think that another reason they get put up is that, sometimes, people feel that it might accentuate the fact that it is a potentially dangerous spot, and maybe make someone slow down and pay a little more attention. Don't know whether that's effective or not, and there are usually road signs in a truly dangerous spot (sharp curve, blind driveway and such), but who knows? Agreed that they are often more of a distraction than otherwise, but I suppose it's also possible that they have saved someone here and there by making the drivers more alert.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 01:00:29 PM by jynnan tonnix »