A few weeks ago my daughter, Kari, was involved in a fender-bender. It was at very low-speed and no one was injured, thank goodness. She rolled into the rear end of another couple’s car at an intersection just a stone’s throw away from our home. She was distracted. Just prior to the collision a karate studio was set-up roadside passing out fliers that offered free lessons. They handed one to Kari and she was stuffing it in her purse when she hit the other car.
First, this wasn’t an “accident” because it was completely avoidable. I call it what it is, a collision. It certainly wasn’t an “incident” either. People use that word, incident, as an attempt to lessen the perceived severity. I heard it all the time during the criminal trial and sentencing from the defendants. They used it ad nauseam to replace “beating” and “attack”. Instead of saying “on the night of the attack” they would minimize it by saying “on the night of the incident”. Hogwash!
Everyone in my family has been involved in a collision. I don’t recall Sue ever being at-fault, but Kari, Ryan, and I actually caused one each. Mine was decades ago, back in 1989, but the passage of time doesn’t make me any more innocent. From that day forward, I accept that society views me as a collision-risk. I don’t like it, but it’s what I am because I capable of doing it. The proof is undeniable. I’ve done it before and I could do it again. Like Kari, I wasn’t paying complete attention and coasted into the back of another vehicle (a dump truck).
In each case, we shouldered the responsibility. We acted quickly to correct the damage we caused. We apologized. We accepted and paid the consequences; monetarily and otherwise. We did all we could to reduce the inconvenience to those we affected. We certainly didn’t blame the victims! It wasn’t the karate studio that caused Kari’s collision. In my case, it wasn’t the radio’s poor reception that caused me to look down to adjust the radio’s tuner. We didn’t deflect blame to the manufacturer of our car’s brakes or bumper. There was no attempt to fault the city’s landscapers for making the car blend into the background. We didn’t blame the Virginia D.O.T. for the placement of their traffic light.
Nor did we try to somehow implicate the other driver. There was no asinine claim that had their car been equipped with sirens and colorful, high-intensity lights that this all would have been avoided. Hell, I suppose if they just wouldn’t have stopped and kept moving this whole “incident” would have been averted. How dare they occupy the same space we plowed into! What were they doing in “our” lane anyhow?
Allow me to take this even a step further. Suppose I suggested that the driver in front had slammed their car into reverse and hit our car? Perhaps their brake lights were burnt out?
Do you see my point? Sure, my assertions that the other driver is contributory is ludicrous. I know this. Yet, these are the defenses employed by many who just don’t want to be found responsible and accountable. They lie. Deception is the order-of-the-day. Here, insinuations are taken to absurd extremes, without a thought to logical or practical outcomes.
They argue that a specific action or result is true because we don’t know that it is false, dispute the absurdity or impossibility. When this fails, they attempt to counter another’s claims or conclusions by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument or facts. This is known as an ad hominem argument logical fallacy and is something we’ve all experienced in the comments section of certain posts supporting the attackers. Sadly, I actually witnessed, and continue to witness, both of these… plus several other logical fallacies (in my opinion). It continues to this day in our world by those who enable and paint-over criminal and negligent actions. Sometimes parents are the worst at this when their child is involved.
Okay, enough of what universities cover on the first day of LOGIC 101. What it boils down to is just doing the right thing. Yes, it’s sometimes uncomfortable and embarrassing. It can throw a person’s finances into chaos. For the really egregious, civil rights — like the right to vote or possess a firearm — can be denied. The chances of being considered a viable mate is diminished. Really, what’s the quality and character of a person who would find this desirable anyhow? Then there’s the realization that creditworthiness and insurability are zero. Earning potential is shattered.
Still, I believe that none of these excuse. Ever. It makes no matter whether the intent or outcome were planned or not.
This “intent and outcome” will be a topic for another day. I just have one thing to say about it today. Clearly, if the intent is to harm (e.g., kicking someone in the head or sucker-punching someone in the face) and the outcome is as intended (e.g., bodily harm) then criminal and civil consequences are proper and justified. Those who inflict this carnage on another should step-up and take responsibility on their own accord. Otherwise, those who hold them accountable will see to it. With endless determination and/or vengeance.
…in my opinion.