Michael, who is the reigning champ in the Comment of the Day Division, scores another with this comment, a rebuttal of ampersand’s plea that a mother’s efforts to deflect blame from her joy-riding teenager, now in a coma after causing a high speed police chase and an accident that closed down a major highway, shouldn’t be held against her. “The mother’s statement was stupid,” ampersand wrote, “but… if there’s any time when we should refrain from attacking people for saying stupid, regrettable things, it’s right after their 14 year old son has been in a terrible, tragic car accident. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that how she acts on the worst day of her life might not be a representative sample of how she generally acts.” I’m generally in favor of the benefit of the doubt, although I personally doubt whether any responsible parent would try to blame joy-riding on the owner of the car her son stole, or would try to minimize the offense by suggesting that “maybe he wanted to go farther than he felt like walking.” I cannot imagine any tragedy that would have made my parents say something that absurd. Still, I acknowledged that the context of the mother’s comments should be taken into consideration. Michael was tougher, and makes a powerful case that he should be. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post How To Raise An Irresponsible and Dangerous Child.
“I think ampersand is exactly wrong. So much that is wrong and wasteful is done because of this kind of sentiment. She should be confronted about this, because the alternative is to go along with it. She said it, it was published. It must be refuted. Not refuting it, publicly, leads to this being considered a valid opinion. Considering this a valid opinion means possibly arresting and convicting the owner’s boyfriend. It also means that it is OK to “borrow” someone’s car (however you have to) if you are tired of walking.
“Some examples of what happens when you go along with it because you don’t want to confront someone who has suffered the loss or injury of their child:
- Example #1. In my senior year of high school, one of my classmates was driving his car home at 2 AM (on a school night). His BAC was over twice the legal limit. He was doing 90+ mph in a 45 zone. He didn’t make a turn, went through a fence, over a cliff, clipped the TOP of one of the signs running over the interstate, landed upside down on the interstate and was hit by a semi. His mother insisted the road must not be safe. No one wanted to tell her that the cause of the accident was a drunk minor driving too fast in the wee hours of the morning with the implication that if she kept a little more control of her son he would still be alive. Instead, road studies were implemented (at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars) that found the road was perfectly safe, additional safety barriers were installed (in spite of the studies), siphoning money off from needed road maintenance, and the speed limit was lowered for a time (because ?????).
- Example #2. Two teenage boys were driving on a 35 mph road that has a gentle curve (30º over 400 yards). It was during school hours, but the school doesn’t require them to go the last week anymore (state testing is over). They were speeding and didn’t make the curve. They hit a minivan (doing 35 mph) head on with their compact car and pushed it back 50′. Both boys were killed and the minivan driver paralyzed. The school held a hero’s memorial service for them. Their pictures and lives were told over and over again on local TV. The city held a memorial service for them later. Nothing was said about the minivan driver, just about the tragedy that took the lives of these young people. Is this going to promote safer driving practices, or does it just reinforce the idea that you can be as reckless as you want to be and if something happens, that is an “accident”? In two similar wrecks in years past, the drivers have lived (although passengers died). The drivers were not prosecuted because they had “suffered enough” by being injured and seeing their friends die. They were held up as role models, like cancer survivors, of people who had suffered through tragic circumstances.
“Also, if you read the article, it is just the mother who claims the keys were left in the car (which makes it seem like they were in the ignition). Her child is in a coma; he probably didn’t tell her that. The car’s owner claimed the keys were in her purse (OK, that might have been in the car) and he would have had to go through her purse to find them. I think it is foolish to do this, but since I got married, I became aware that lots of women do it.
“In a related topic, should the child be prosecuted for stealing the vehicle despite his injuries? Should he or his parents be sued for the loss of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which the owner paid cash for, may not have full coverage on and (because it looks like a WK) may be worth $20,000? If not, why should the owner (or the customers of the owner’s insurance company) be forced to pay for this loss?”