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Response to 2 Murders

There is something insidiously abnormal in the comparisons of two “death articles” recounted on the front page of the Metro Section (July 14). Within the span of 48 hours, two separate guns barked and two separate people died. It goes without saying that the heinous and wanton murder of Andre Coffyn quickly joined the annals of burgeoning monstrosities. Likewise, gunning down Walter Dale Stewart Jr. the day before his 18th birthday was even more than the helplessness from his mother’s utterance of “sad.”

But there the similarity between Coffyn and Stewart ends.

It is not that one dead man was black, and the other was white; or that one was from Europe and the other from America. It is not that one had already built his material success while the other had just that day been accepted into a computer job placement program.

Instead, it is that now--like it or not--we almost automatically and in a take-it-for-granted manner, grade the value of a life. One’s death is the type, in the words of Los Angeles Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, that “sends a shiver down the collective spine.” The other merely forces a grieving father to stare blankly beyond the back-yard fence. One is of the death of a suave Frenchman; the other is simply “1 of 4 victims to die in the violence on Los Angeles streets.”

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One is shot by a robber in his Westside restaurant while sitting with a group of diners; the other is shot for no particular reason, alone. One man’s death sparks patrols and demands an instant reward for the killer; the other is relegated to the statistics of gang war and drive-by incidents. One deals with Yaroslavsky’s issue of “the confidence a community feels.” The other, sadly enough, deals with the confidence a community should feel.

LAWRENCE R. GORDON

Santa Monica


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