Saturday, May 26, 2007

Banality and Blame

In April, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was tragically killed in a late night automobile accident for which he was at fault. Subsequent tests revealed Mr. Hancock's blood alcohol level to be about twice the legal limit in Missouri. This event has led to a pair of quintessential American responses.

1. The irrelevant public relations response. The St. Louis Cardinals banned drinking in their clubhouse. Never mind that Mr. Hancock had not been drinking at the clubhouse -- he had just left a bar when he had the accident. Never mind that the Cardinals play their home games in a venue named "Busch Stadium." Never mind that all manner of vendors spend more than 3 hours aggressively hawking $8 beers to the 40,000 people in attendance at any game. The 25 players on the Cardinal team will not have access to a cold one after the game is over. Can anyone think of any substantive reason for this response?

2. The denial of personal responsibility litigation response. The father of Mr. Hancock has filed a lawsuit in the case against the owner of the establishment that served the alcohol. At the time of the accident, Mr. Hancock was intoxicated, speeding, talking on his cell phone, and not wearing a seat belt. For good measure, police also found marijuana in his vehicle. However, it is necessary to force the restaurant owner to take responsibility for Mr. Hancock's death?

Always conscious of the need for civility, The Oracle does not wish these remarks to be interpreted as criticism of the deceased or of the grieving. The particular sets of facts merely strike him as pointing to certain unfortunate maladies characterizing modern American culture.

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