There's a serial killer loose in town. Eight to ten people a month have been murdered over the past several years. They're dropping like flies!
Well, they're not actually dropping like flies. Flies usually fall on their backs, their legs do this happy feet dance, they expire with little fanfare or ritual, then dry up and blow away.
On the other hand . . .
This homicidal monster has some strange fetishes. He ends a person's life immediately by driving an axe in the face, then cuts the dead body into various size chunks. The entrails he drapes in trees around town, the finely-carved fillets of flesh from the meatier parts of the body -- thighs, calves, arms, backs and stomachs if there's a nice balance between fat and muscle -- are fed to stray dogs by tossing them in alleys around town. More delicate parts -- eyes, ears, lips, tongues, genitals -- are stuffed into bubble mailers and arrive in mailboxes in the nicer neighborhoods. They're marked 'Something Special Just For You'. Finally the bones are stacked on the hoods of parked police cruisers.
It's a horrifying, gruesome mess that has pushed the entire community to near insanity.
So . . . what do you do?
I got it!
You put an ad in the local paper: Stop killing people! We don't like it!
You get people together for marches. They go through the business district during the busiest hour of the day carrying protest signs, chanting anti-serial killing slogans, and singing Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.
You sell t-shirts that say: "Serial killing is bad for humans and other living things!"
You get experts on TV talking about how the killing really should stop, how the violence and fear is tearing the community apart, what bad effects this has on the kids growing up in this type of environment. There's unanimity on all the panels discussing this. No one comes out in favor of serial killing.
We mount a campaign to send emails to the serial killer -- don't ask me how but somehow we got hold of his AOL email address -- and his In box is flooded to capacity with messages decrying his butchery: 'People are really upset. You're a sick man!' 'Burn in Hell, MF!' 'What is wrong with you? Don't you know killing is bad?'
We call his office -- again, don't ask me how we got his phone number but we did, he has an office somewhere in the city -- morning, noon, and night. It's organized through the Code Blue Mothers Against Murder ad hoc committee, and 800 to 1,000 calls a day pour in to his office. Every once in a while, we get a live person. Boy, do we give her an earful! But usually, we get an automatic answering device with a menu: If you're against serial killing, please press #1. If you're for serial killing, please press #2. If you wish to speak personally to a member of our staff, just stay on the line and someone will be with you shortly [ bleep click ] Expected wait time to answer your call 2 hours and 15 minutes.
We set up a Town Hall Meeting. It's attended by thousands of angry, concerned citizens and they can't all fit into the high school gymnasium where it's being held. The serial killer appears on a video screen -- with his hockey goalie mask on, of course -- and people vent and express their outrage. When things calm down a bit, people ask questions and plead with the serial killer. He explains he has difficulty controlling his temper, but he says he can see people are upset, so he'll try harder.
There are no killings for a week. Then they start up again.
So finally, we pull out the big gun. Yes . . . a petition!