Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Texts Closer 

This week's feature is an emotionally difficult one to read, but it's an important piece. The story of Joseph Wiederrick, a freshman at University of Idaho who died after spending a frigid night beneath a bridge in January, serves as much more than the usual cautionary tale about youth and its perceived invincibility.

Wiederrick's death wasn't a freak occurrence. He didn't get killed in a car wreck, or fall out of a window or die in a brawl. His death relied on a breakdown of something so simple we increasingly take it for granted: communication.

It is still possible, even in our hyper-connected world, for a person to simply fall through the cracks. A missed phone call, an ignored text message, an unanswered knock at the door can mean the difference between life and death, and Wiederrick's life could have been saved by any number of the people he encountered along his tragic, mysterious late-night wander through the wilds of Moscow. Yet the lines of communication he tried to open failed.

The piece in this week's paper, written by Jacob Jones of the Pacific Northwest Inlander, in Spokane, Wash., is a finely wrought examination of just how Wiederrick was allowed simply to walk out into the darkness and never return. It's also a powerful reminder that our "social safety net" starts at the most basic level: people looking out for each other.

Elsewhere in this week's Boise Weekly, George Prentice braves the wilds of rural western Idaho/eastern Oregon, where some county sheriffs are telling their constituents they won't comply with federal efforts to regulate firearms. He also gets a little legal insight on whether the sheriffs can actually back up their rhetoric: Turns out they're shooting from the hip--mostly.

Finally, you might have noticed (if you read the Idaho Statesman Feb. 24), that the paper has come to its senses and brought back Doonesbury. Boise Weekly never lost its senses--we picked it up when the daily dropped it--so we're keeping the comic anyway. Trudeau fans rejoice.

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