By Jack Baruth on June 7, 2016
“Just because you’re paranoid,” my father used to joke, “it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” WMATA, the metro rail system of Washington, DC, has long been infamous for subpar service, indifferent adherence to schedule, and a truly staggering amount of crime that includes over 100 reported felony assaults in a four-year period.
Starting today, however, WMATA added a new nightmare for commuters who have already been brutalized into submission: the “SafeTrack” program that features maintenance “surges” to replace dangerous and degraded sections of railway. The resulting closures and delays have riders looking for alternatives to WMATA — but isn’t WMATA supposed to be an alternative to owning and operating a private automobile? What’s at the end of this “alternative” rabbit hole?
But if you needed another reason to quit WMATA besides WMATA asking you to quit, there’s a very good “alternative” reason out there as well: roving gangs of rapists.
I have to admit that I hesitated to put the above photo up. The three men in the photo are wanted for approaching a female WMATA rider, demanding that she perform sexual acts on them, and then holding her down for a solid session of sexual battery.
The problem, obviously, is that the three fellows above just look like they were conjured up to fit the racist imaginations of neo-Nazi #AltRight Reddit shitposters. So I looked through every person-of-interest post put up by MetroTransitPD, hoping to find a white guy that I could use instead of, or possibly in conjunction with, the police photo of these fine citizens. I didn’t find any. I suppose if I want the DC Metro Police to put a photo of a white criminal in the subway I’m going to have to go there myself and steal somebody’s iPhone. The closest I could come to a photo that depicts a non-PoC person of interest was this:
I think there is a solid chance that the criminal shown in the photo on the left is actually a Predator alien. But the problem with that is that the actor who played the Predator, Kevin Peter Hall, is also a person of color. So there’s no getting away from it. Readers, I apologize.
In all seriousness, however, this series of unfortunate events adroitly demonstrates the primary issues with mass transit. Issue the First: Once you agree to get rid of your car or motorcycle and become part of the “mass transit solution”, you have all the rights and clout of a sheep in the abattoir. By its very definition and nature, government-controlled mass transit is a monopoly. You have two choices: like it, or lump it. That’s how you get things like a “maintenance surge” in place of an intelligently conceived longevity plan. By all accounts, WMATA is half make-work project for otherwise unemployable idiots and half utter catastrophe — and that was before SafeTrack.
Issue the Second is that you’re simply not safe in the DC subway. The District Of Columbia bans the public possession of most weapons, right down to “knives of three inches or above”. Gun law in DC could be the subject of an entire War and Peace-sized book but it’s fair to say that where possible the powers that be in the District will aggressively prosecute, not to say persecute, anybody who dares to defend themselves with a pistol. The end result, perhaps the intended result, of this legal climate is to make it impossible for law-abiding, employed, tax-paying citizens to use anything but hands and feet in self-defense. This is awesome news if you’re Steven Seagal circa 1985. It’s less awesome if you’re under six-five and/or not able to fight off three full-grown men at the same time.
No surprise, then, that the three dudes in the above photo feel completely free to wander through the subway and demand that women perform fellatio on them. Who’s going to stop them? The DC Metro Police? They’re conspicuous by their absence. WMATA employees? They don’t care. Maybe Batman?
Speaking plainly and personally, if I saw that crew raping a woman on the subway I would consider my obligation to that woman versus my obligation to feed and clothe my son for the next eleven years, a feat I could not accomplish from a hospital bed, a motorized wheelchair, or a morgue, and I’d leave the white-knight act to someone else.
It’s possible, just possible, that at the age of forty-four, with bad joints and oft-broken limbs, I might be able to scrap one of them to a standstill. I have a reasonable background in the martial arts. Reasonable for a writer, anyway. If they catch me on a day when I’m feeling my oats and my knees work. But all three of them? Somehow I doubt they even know who the Marquess of Queensberry was. Nah, bro, you guys do your thing. I’ll be over here playing Slither.io on my Samsung if anybody needs to be carried to the hospital afterwards.
The real future of mass transit is an automated one: individualized, safe, clean modules taking customers to individual destinations. Five hundred years from now, our descendants will regard the idea of the subway the way we regard the idea of using leeches to heal disease. (Yeah, yeah, save your links about modern usage of leeches, you Aspies.) In the meantime, however, the best way to deal with mass transit is this: view it at a distance, from behind the windshield of an S-Class. You know, the way the people who run DC — the people who say that you need to use WMATA — do.
Hat tip: The Truth About Cars