Saturday, October 11, 2008

If you build it, they won't come

Talk about a sign of the times: The managers of Golden Gate Bridge have decided to go ahead with plans to install a $50 million suicide net. Given the anguish among erstwhile high-rollers in the Bay Area, it was either that or install turnstiles at either end to accommodate all those wishing to make the leap.

A suicide net is a interesting paradox: Just by having it, you guarantee that it will never be used as intended. For those really interested in killing themselves, a 20-foot jump into wire mesh will have limited appeal. Might as well hurl yourself into the plastic balls at Chuck E. Cheese. Certainly you wouldn't look any more ridiculous when the authorities arrive to fish you out.

If they build this thing, I hope there's some oversight. I know that if I were a suicide-net contractor, I'd be tempted to cut corners here and there. I'd build, say, a $35 million net and pass the savings along to myself. Nobody would be the wiser, right? Except for the occasional "Jackass"-style thrill-seeker, of course. But that's just all part of natural selection.

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