Cultural Revolutions

Pushed Only So Far

Violent crime in California dropped for the first nine months of 1993 over the same period in 1992, reported attorney general Dan Lungren last winter. But statistics are of no comfort, and Lungren knows it. During the same press conference he even said so: "The reason people are more worried today than they ever have been before is the randomness." Or as pollster Marvin Field told the San Francisco Chronicle, "When you have the Polly Klaas cases and the serial killers and the sexual molesters, that kind of crime bursts the bubble of feeling that you can protect yourself." Even in traditionally liberal San Francisco, bleeding hearts are hardening. After the abduction and murder of Klaas by a repeat offender, for instance, a Chronicle reporter told me that many of his most liberal newsroom colleagues had been broken and turned by the ordeal of tracking the local tragedy.

Average San Franciscans can likewise only take so much, which became clear after another particularly cold-blooded murder in the heavily touristed Fisherman's Wharf area (just a few months after a teenage Irish tourist was nearly shot dead for no reason in the same area by a 16-year-old out on a weekend pass from a juvenile facility). Michael Stuckey, age 23, suffered a mortal knife wound while trying to break up a mugging. His suspected killer, who has a considerable rap sheet, was arrested in a nearby Bay Street housing project,...

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