I consider it a weakness, of sorts, that whenever I read of yet another shooting in Oakland that I feel compelled to read the entire article to see if I knew the victim. It's rooted in the fact that I work at a school where the siblings and parents of the kids I work with have, in the past, come to unfortunate ends at the wrong end of a gun. Not that there is a right end of the gun necessarily, but one seems more lethal than the other. I am always saddened by the news of anyone's passing, but I keep a special eye out for brothers and fathers of children I teach.
I also have a habit of reading the comments beneath such articles on Al Gore's Internet. Most of them skew to the right, suggesting that somehow this was inevitable if you chose to live in Oakland in the first place. Recently, however, I read what I thought was a more proactive idea: "Can't we talk these thugs to engage in pie-throwing instead of bullets? Sneak up on your victim and 'WHAM!' hit him with a coconut cream pie, then run. Safer and the victim is humiliated, not offed."
Innocent bystanders would now have the opportunity to lick their wounds without risk of a nasty infection. Paramedics would give way to custard-clean up. The point would be made without the ancillary expenses of hospitalization or mortuaries. It would be the dessert version of the Native American tradition of counting coup, where great honor would be bestowed upon the warriors who managed to touch their enemies in battle. Escaping without harm was considered a much higher honor than being wounded in battle. But maybe that "honor" thing is the part that is currently being stretched.
I've been hit in the face with a pie, and the worst thing about it was when it went up my nose. I smelled pie for about three days afterward, even after numerous showers. Three days of sniffing coconut cream versus a lifetime of sorrow and regret? I'll take the pie, thanks.