A Blame for Every Death

Hi fdinsikftn
Folks! Did you know I write a weekly syndicated  newspaper column? Yup. Been doing it for seven years, through Creators Syndicate. (And dare I suggest, maybe your local paper should run it? It’s not always about Free-Range topics. I cover everything from bioterrorism to Barbie.)  Anyway, here’s my latest, about a letter you read here, and a case far away. – L.


Abductions. Earthquakes. What do they have in common besides the horror they create?

They are both, to a greater or lesser extent, random. And randomness — call it “fate” — is something we 21st century humans have a very hard time accepting. To see how hard, let’s look at a recent verdict in Italy and a recent murder here in America.

The verdict has to do with a deadly earthquake in the Italian town of L’Aquila in 2009. Before the quake, there were some tremors. Scientists were asked whether they thought these indicated an earthquake was imminent, and they said they weren’t sure, things could be fine, and science does not possess the power to predict the unpredictable.

Less than a week later, an earthquake did decimate the town, and 309 people died. At which point the scientists’ earlier lack of a definitive “GET OUT THIS INSTANT!” landed them in court. Their year-long trial ended this past week. All six were found guilty of “multiple manslaughter.” They were sentenced to six years in prison (each) and fined $12 million to cover the court costs and pay the victims. Said one of the convicted, “This is medieval.”

But actually, it’s very modern.

To see how modern, take a look at this letter I got about the Jessica Ridgeway case in Colorado. Jessica was walking to school earlier this month, when she was abducted and killed. That morning, the school had called her mom to say she was absent, but the mom, who works nights, was asleep with her phone in another room, so she didn’t hear it. This letter, from a mom named Amber, was sent to my “Free-Range Kids” blog:

“As a mom, especially a single working mom, I have my cell phone always left on and near me … in case … the school or my kids ever need me during the day. … I know a lot of other parents who do the same thing and for me at least, it is a pretty standard and common sense practice.

… I’m sorry I’m going to say it … but LAZINESS, SELFISHNESS, and irresponsible actions (were taken) by the mother in this case. … I just feel this mother took her (daughter’s) … safety for granted.”

Amber concludes that no one ever should let his or her kids walk unescorted to school, because the child could die. It sounds as if, if it were up to her, she would convict the mom of manslaughter for not predicting and preventing the unpredictable — that out of the blue, her daughter would be abducted.

This kind of angry blame — by courts and by society — is the end of rationality as we know it. If scientists worry that any time they make a prediction they could end up in jail, they’ll either shut up entirely (already, the head of the Italian commission on seismic risk has resigned, as has his deputy), or issue alarms even when the likelihood of danger is tiny, re-calibrating their instincts from rational to hysterical. Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!

Likewise, when we have a culture that blames parents for not treating every walk to school like a trip through a firing squad, we re-calibrate society, too. And instead of accepting the small amount of risk that comes with just plain living, we demand excess precaution all the time. If you’re not proceeding as if your child is in constant danger, society chides, you’re doing something wrong. This explains the helicopter parenting movement.

It is really hard to accept the fact that bad things happen, sometimes out of the blue. But to tell ourselves we could avoid them all if only we were better-prepared is worse than wishful thinking or even medieval thinking.

It isn’t thinking. It’s hysteria. – L.S.

It’s hard to predict every bad thing.

44 Responses to A Blame for Every Death

  1. Mela October 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Those are just two examples of a huge cultural cancer — I see people blaming rape on women’s clothing choices instead of (those particular) men’s aggression, or assuming that bicyclists deserve to be hit by cars if they aren’t wearing a helmet. We have absolutely no tolerance for any risk whatsoever, and we continue to blame victims of crime or misfortune instead of the criminals or crappy luck.

    I live across town from where Jessica Ridgeway was abducted and murdered, and I have daughters near her age. We talked about being safe — most adults you ask for help are safe, whereas unknown adults asking kids for help are less trustworthy and they should find another adult. We talked about trusting your gut and instincts, and keeping track of each other when they’re playing outside or walking to and from school.

    Unlike other parents in our neighborhood, though, we haven’t locked them inside, and we don’t usher them to and from every activity. I absolutely do worry, sometimes, about unforeseen tragedies that could befall them. But they have a good toolkit, and I trust them.

  2. Eric October 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I’m reminded of a line from one of the campiest movies of all time: Strictly Ballroom.

    “Vivir con miedo es vivir a medias” – To live in fear is to live halfway (my own translation, not the movie’s).

  3. Linda Wightman October 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    The trouble is, you can’t win. If forecasters (and the news media, school systems, and state and federal governments) keep reacting hysterically every time there is risk of disaster, people stop listening. Living in Florida, I see it all the time with hurricane coverage. Of course I’m thinking about it now because of all the hype and fear-mongering going on with Hurricane Sandy. I’m not minimizing the risk or fear — we have relatives, friends, and property in the danger zone — but when the warnings are consistently over the top, the “cry wolf” effect takes over.

    When was the last time you read the “lawyer warnings” that came with a new appliance? You know, the ones that tell you not to use your toaster in the shower?

  4. Yan Seiner October 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Does this remind anyone of the witch hunts? Throw her in the river! If she drowns, she’s not a witch. If she floats, she’s a witch so burn her!

    The verdict in Italy is particularly scary, as it casts science in the role of the medieval seer. Unfortunately, science can’t pull off miracles.

  5. Captain America October 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    This is a modest chit, but I note that it’s been damn near impossible for Captain America to interpret the weather man any more: he’s always talking great calamity, or nothing, and considers a dose of rain to be a catastrophe.

    Is this in keeping with “worst first” trends?

  6. mollie October 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    “You should have known better” is something I translate as a tragic expression of someone’s need for responsibility and well-being.

    And yet, in the case of a child who gets abducted, who, exactly, should have known better? Who, exactly, is responsible?

    Let’s take the unfortunate case of Leiby in New York this past year. He walked home from school or camp or whatever it was alone for the first time, strayed off course, talked to a man who looked like he was “one of the trusted community,” and eventually, GOT IN THIS MAN’S CAR.

    Now I’m not going to blame the victim here, but in terms of self-responsibility, I’m going to venture that any 7 or 8 or above-year-old who is sent out into the world would know, without any doubt at all, that this is NOT safe, no matter what sort of garb the person is wearing. So. Step one. DON’T. GET. IN. THE. CAR.

    This man then drove him wherever he drove him, and then took him to his house, where he suffocated and dismembered him. So. In terms of self-responsibility, I would also venture that taking a child to your home and then killing that child is NOT going to ultimately get you what you were looking for, and is going to trigger enormous amounts of pain for others. So. Step two: DON’T SUFFOCATE AND DISMEMBER A CHILD.

    Now we come to the grieving parents, who allowed their child the age-old rite of passage to traverse his neighbourhood unaccompanied. It didn’t go as planned. I don’t know if they briefed Leiby on the whole “what to do if you’re lost” thing, and made sure he understood the “don’t get in anyone’s car” common sense rule, but I can clearly see where the “responsibility” for this child’s death might lie, and it’s most definitely NOT overwhelmingly with the parents. Perhaps child, killer, and parents all played a role in this unfortunate tragedy, but to say that it’s the parents’ “fault” that this child came to such an unfortunate end is a narrow interpretation indeed.

    Let’s put responsibility where it lies: within each of us. We must all work to create community, to support thriving and life, we must all be aware of our surroundings, we must all work towards creating the world we want to live in, and we must all accept that sometimes, despite all of our common sense, precautions, and efforts to the contrary, sh•t happens.

    This is where acceptance comes in. For all the bible-banging I hear south of the 49th parallel, I don’t see a lot of spiritual awakening. Things happen, we don’t control it all, we can assume we failed if bad things happen… or we can assume that there is the will of something higher in what happens and make our life’s practice self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others.

    Easier said than done, so people tend to go for vengeance instead. Tragic. Vengeance breeds vengeance, it’s never-ending. The only way out is acceptance and compassion. Let’s try some more of that.

  7. gap.runner October 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    It’s amazing how low risk activities are blown out of proportion. A child has a much higher chance of being killed in a car crash (about 2000 per year in the States) compared to being kidnapped by a stranger and killed (about 115 in the States). But there is a big blame the victim or victim’s parents mentality when a child is abducted by a stranger.

    Now contrast this attitude with what happened in Austria last Friday. Bjoern Sieber, a promising 23-year-old skier on the Austrian ski team was killed in a car accident on his way to a race in Soelden, Austria. The European media treated Sieber’s death as the tragic accident that it was. There were no calls to ban driving, permanently close the road that Sieber was driving on, or recall the type of van that he was driving because it was unsafe and caused a death. Sieber’s coaches and teammates were obviously saddened by his death. But the Austrian coaches also said that life must go on and that the skiers had to concentrate on their races that weekend. Here is the story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223680/Bjorn-Sieber-dies-Austrian-world-cup-ski-champion-fatal-minibus-plunge.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  8. gap.runner October 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I didn’t finish my thought in the first paragraph above. Parents are blamed in the media or by other parents when their kids get abducted but they aren’t when their kids die in a car accident.

  9. Slawebb October 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    We cannot protect our children 100% no matter how much we want or try to. Things happen right under our noses and we don’t even know about them.

    Look at Elizabeth Smart. She was abducted from her bedroom. What could her parents have done more? She was home, they thought she was sleeping in bed. Are they to blame because they didn’t sleep in her room with her? No, of course not.

    As parents and society we need to educate our children on how to stay safe so they know what to do “if” something starts to happen. It won’t protect all kids but instilling confidence in our children will change things. Most confident children are not victims because they do not look afraid. They are not afraid of adults and look them in the eye. They stand with confidence and know how to deal with a world that is, on the most part, friendly. They also know what to do and who to ask for help when things are unfriendly.

    Is it any surprise that more adults are being victimized? If your not taught young when you don’t know how to deal with it as al adult. You are waiting for someone else to keep you safe.

    As parents and adults we need to educate and help our children feel confident in the world they live in. Yes, we should take precautions, be reasonable about what children at different ages can handle. Give them a cell phone and have them call when they get where they are going. Start small and trust all will be well.

  10. railmeat October 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Nice column Lenore. Excellent connection that ultimately displays a serious problem from yet another perspective: The death of rational thought.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. VinceL October 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I look forward to the day when all scientists leave various countries when witch hunts like this occur. it will be interesting to see how these places survive the new dark gaes. I also look forward to the Italian courts imprisoning the weather folks for not predicting 100% accurately. People, and it appears now, countries look for scapegoats. As if it ALWAYS has to be a persons fault. Also a good way to make sure science is not taught and performed in a country (yes, happening here in the good ol’ US of A too).

  12. Yan Seiner October 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    @VinceL: Just google for “weather service sued” and you will get an amazing list of lawsuits – for bad weather.

  13. Donna October 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    What is sad is the way people relish the fact if you are injured during some “risky” activity. Don’t wear a helmet and people love to hear about you being injured in a bike accident. It doesn’t matter that you were struck by a a drunk driver who ran up onto the sidewalk to hit you. It was your fault for not wearing a helmet and we are going to take some measure of joy in your getting yours. Let your kid walk to school alone and you deserve to have her abducted or, at least, have CPS come and take them away from you forever and you should be sterilized so you can’t have anymore.

    It is coping mechanism. Humans can’t stand that life is random. It is terrifying to accept that you really could just be walking down a sidewalk and be struck by a drunk driver, raped, or abducted. We HAVE to blame the victims. They HAVE to have done something wrong. Otherwise it can happen to us.

  14. SKL October 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Well, there are lots of times when I take the cautious route, but it’s because my instinct tells me to.

    I like to think my instinct is pretty sharp. Like the time an acquaintance brought over her baby (whom I’d never met before) and he was walking around the furniture. Something told me to put my hand down on the edge of the coffee table *just* as he was about to slam his head onto it. That kind of stuff. When my mom instinct says “she’s not ready yet” or “maybe there’s a weirdo in there,” I trust it because I trust myself.

    Now I wonder if younger generations never got a chance to fully develop those instincts, because of being bubble-wrapped themselves throughout their childhood. I was given a lot of free reign as a kid – leave in the morning and you need not come home until dinner. I had the opportunity to make lots of mistakes before those mistakes could really “make or break” me. Is that how I honed my instincts? I don’t know.

    I have a couple of kids who defy the “common wisdom.” Special needs, giftedness, and an unusual life history mean that following “one-size-fits-all” advice would make us even weirder than we already are. I wish (for those younger parents who fear or lack instincts) that parenting advice were given more in terms of “here are some alternatives to try and some criteria by which to rate them.” I’d love to see a book about out-of-the-box parenting choices that had great outcomes.

  15. SKL October 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Ha, free rein, not free reign! I was a middle child, folks. Master of none!

  16. A Dad October 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Not surprising. Notice all the lawsuits that occur whenever there’s an accident where somebody dies or is injured.
    Everybody wants a payoff even when there is no fault. Or in the case where there is deep pockets, even if the victim is at fault.

  17. Library Diva October 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    “We cannot protect our children 100% no matter how much we want or try to. Things happen right under our noses and we don’t even know about them.”

    In my hometown two years ago, a 14-year-old girl died in a bizarre freak accident. During a mild rainstorm, she was riding in the backseat of her parents’ car when a rotted tree limb fell on the car, struck her and killed her. If they’d been going 1 mph faster or slower, they would have missed the branch. And yet, someone in the comments section of the paper’s article on the incident was saying, maybe we shouldn’t have trees by roads anymore (fortunately, other commentors shouted him down).

  18. Captain America October 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    I think the genesis of the problem is that a whole generation has been taught to view things like lawyers and jump into assigning blame whenever there is any imperfection.

  19. Lollipoplover October 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    With every tragic death of a child lately, there have been heaping amounts of blame put on mothers. With Jessica Ridgeway they blamed mom for allowing her to walk to school. With Amanda Todd they blamed mom for allowing her to go on Facebook. With Autumn Pascale they blamed dad for letting her ride her bike. Even the murder of the two toddlers in NYC by their nanny had people blaming the mom for having a nanny in the first place and not taking care of her kids herself. It’s enough to make you sick.

  20. DirtyHooker October 29, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    It’s about the illusion of control. “This could never happen to ME because I’M not that stupid.” It’s like having a magic talisman against randomness.

  21. sylvia_rachel October 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Our brains evolved to see patterns in random data because back in the Palaeolithic, it was way more dangerous to fail to perceive an existing pattern (rustling in the grass = predator) than to see patterns where none exist. We don’t deal well with randomness, chance, or low probabilities (see also: popularity of Lotto 6/49). So we’re predisposed to this kind of thinking. But it does seem to be getting worse and worse. It’s like people don’t even believe in the existence of chance anymore o.O — if something bad happened, someone MUST be to blame.

  22. Sarah in WA October 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Death is inevitable. We are all vulnerable to it. Of course, we don’t want it to happen to anyone who is still a child. Child death is tragic beyond description.

    But it is reality, and it used to be even more so. Child mortality rates used to be significantly higher 100 years ago and before that. What could people do back then? Not have their children work on their farms because of potential accidents? It simply wasn’t an option.

    Terrible things happen, but overall we have it pretty good. We have it better than any other society in history, really. Why don’t we appreciate that?

  23. Cynthia812 October 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Great comparison.

  24. Kelly October 30, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    We should rally around a grieving family at this time. What these blamers do is not only ignorant & illogical, it is non-compassionate.

    I notice mom is always blamed more than dad in these things. I remember that horrible gang rape a year and a half back and a vocal minority of people blamed – the victim herself, and the victim’s mother.

  25. Jennifer October 30, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    When it comes to issuing warnings, putting warnings out too quickly (better safe than sorry, you know) can actually make people *less* safe.

    It’s like living in a building with a faulty fire alarm. The alarm goes off, you leave the building, you wait around until the fire department investigates, then you go back in. After a dozen false alarms, you’ve had enough of wandering outside in the dead of night, and you stay in your apartment and shove in some earplugs. Then, if there is a real fire, you don’t react properly, because after all, it’s always been a false alarm.

    For things like natural disasters, which can involve massive evacuation routines and a significant amount of inconvenience, people are all too likely to stay home when all the other warnings were over-state. So when the big storm really hits, they get caught out.

    And for the scientists predicting this, and the public servants acting on the predictions, this isn’t an easy task. I’m a scientist, and I’m grateful that my predictions don’t affect public policy. If I were a seismologist, right now I’d either be seriously considering quitting, or I’d be issuing daily warnings, just to cover myself.

    If you warn people about absolutely everything that could possibly, at some level, harm them, then it becomes increasingly hard to figure out what the serious risks are.

    By the way, the probability of your child dying due to a comet or asteroid hitting the earth is 1 in 24,000. The probability that they will be abducted and killed by a stranger is 1 in 1.5 million. Consequently, all parents who aren’t emigrating to a new solar system (or living in a carefully constructed underground bunker, located well away from the ocean, with enough food and supplies to last a decade) are obviously negligent and should be jailed.

  26. Dave October 30, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    YJou are a wise woman. I only hope people are listening. It is hard for us to accept that bad things happen and know many cases there us no one to blame. In those situation our leaders overreact thing they are protecting the public while others point t fingers and blame In some selfrighteous manner. Things are sometimes out of our control but modern man refuses to accept that fact. So instead of understanding and compassion we turn on each other. Before I pray people arelisten g to you. We need to turn this around.

  27. baby-paramedic October 30, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Accidents happen. In my job I get to see true neglect, true unfit parents. The sort where I want to take their children far far away then and there so they actually have a decent chance. These are the children that haunt me the most, not the ones killed or maimed in tragic accidents (though, they do their fair amount of haunting).
    I cannot see why people are attacking the parents, when they feel at their worst, for unlikely things like child abductions ending in murder. It is not our job to raise our children up to fear the world, it is our job to raise them up to be productive content members of society, in the best way they can. (Okay, that sounds a little Orwellian, but hopefully you get what I mean!)

  28. AW13 October 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    I live in the midwest. Every spring/early summer, there are tornados. Every. Year. This is a given. However, through luck, our city is rarely touched, even when the outlying areas are hit. About 5 years ago, a huge storm front came through, complete with some very nasty tornados. They ripped through and demolished parts of the small towns that are about 10 miles outside of the city. No one was killed, but there were several injuries, and in the following days, the local weathermen were lamenting that these people hadn’t heeded the warnings. Some locals pointed out that maybe if they didn’t run the tornado sirens to warn people of such events as incoming strong winds (yes, not for storms, just for really windy days) and only ran them for tornados, people would take them more seriously. They took a poll and realized that most of us just tune out those sirens because they would go off at least 4 times a week during storm season, and there was an actual tornado less than 25% of the time. It’s a running joke in our family – if the sirens go off, run outside to see what’s going on.

  29. Lollipoplover October 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    We just got through Hurricane Sandy here and so far two deaths were blamed on downed trees. We were told of a Frankenstorm and doomsday for three whole days and everything was closed. Our only neighborhood casualty was a trampoline (that was secured) that is high in a tree. Kids were outside early this morning fascinated by Mother Nature…and the randomness of the weather.

  30. EricS October 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    To be fair…to some degree, some things are preventable. Like making sure you kids aren’t playing around the ironing table while it’s in use. Or treat kitchen knives as a toy. THOSE are just common sense. But to predict IF your child is going to get abducted? You have a better chance of winning the lottery…multiple times. The ONLY way to protect your child at all times, is to literally tether yourself to them 24-7. And I mean there is literally NOT ONE SECOND your eyes aren’t on them. That’s the ONLY way. And even then, it’s not guaranteed your child will still be away from harms reach. Except this method, is highly illogical, paranoid, and unrealistic. Yet, some parents seem to believe that all their over caution, and fear driven routines will ensure their children’s safety. Yet, these very same people still pick and choose what THEY fear, and what THEY will protect their children from. As we know already, the chances of a child getting killed or injured in an auto collision, is much higher than them getting abducted and/or killed. Yet, all these helicopter parents will never think twice, let alone fear for their children riding in a car with them. And I can say with certainty, that some of these parents while driving with their kids in their car, are allowing themselves to be distracted by their mobile, friends, and even the kids. Upping that risk factor by 3 times. Yet, they will never think twice about how much THEY are putting their own children at risk. This is a simple case of, what “fear” is convenient for the parent. They obviously pick an chose based on the what the media popularizes at the time. If some of these parents stopped to think, they will realize it’s their own fears that influence their decisions for their kids. That if you take away those unsubstantiated fears, and replace it with real common sense, they would laugh at themselves, or hide in complete embarrassment.

  31. echowit October 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    @ Donna, “We HAVE to blame the victims. They HAVE to have done something wrong. Otherwise it can happen to us.”

    I think you’ve hit it exactly. As L. said at the start, we absolutely fear randomness.

    Sad to think so many fear the quirks (and blessings) of being alive.

  32. echowit October 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    @SKL “Ha, free rein, not free reign! I”

    Actually I thought it rather a clever pun.

    Free reign, as in I was put in charge of myself.


    Free rein. as in allowed to set my own speed but still under someone else’s check.

  33. DirtyHooker October 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    ****We just got through Hurricane Sandy here and so far two deaths were blamed on downed trees.*****

    To be fair, Sandy did a lot of damage to some areas. Near my old hometown, 60 homes burned to the ground, and most of the other houses were flooded to a serious degree. It’s fair to warn people during potentially devastating storms so they can take rational precautions. I really mean rational, like people in flood zones can evacuate and others can store some food and water and medical supplies. It’s not rational to sound the alarm every time it rains.

  34. Warren October 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    It comes down to being in control. Humans are control freaks, and cannot live with things, events or incidents beyond their control. Even the background checks for volunteering, is a control factor. Having control makes people feel safe and secure.

    Unfortunately I have one of those minds that remembers way tooooooo much, and not enough at the same time.

    Somewhere, sometime it was noted that…
    Security is unattainable. Security is an illusion, giving us false hope.

  35. Jenna October 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I couldn’t believe it when the Italian courts found those scientists guilty and sentenced them to prison. For failing to be gods and predict an earthquake. We do live in a time of highly irrational thought. I’m so fortunate that where I currently live, most other parents think along the same lines as I do and our neighborhood is full of kids playing outside all the time, even in winter.

  36. Lollipoplover October 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Actually DirtyHooker (love the name), Hurricane Sandy is a great example of NOT being able to predict/control a storm, just like an earthquake
    Our family shore house in NJ was under mandatory evacuation (though only 60% left) and is totally under water and most of the houses on the island have massive damage. That said, there were no reports of injuries.
    In Northern NJ, there were not evacuations but many had to be rescued due to flooding (I think a dam broke). We were inland but had hurricane wind gusts and lost power. Trees are down everywhere here…randomly killing people in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can’t blame anyone for these storm deaths (just the STORM), just like you can’t blame crime victims. Very sad, very random, and totally not preventable.

  37. Gina October 30, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    The ONLY person to blame for a child being abducted, molested, raped and/or killed is the PERPERTRATOR (sp?)….Nobody else is to blame. I do agree that people tend to blame the victim so they can feel safe that it will not happen to them….I catch myself doing that…and I try to remember not to.

  38. John October 31, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    There is no way those scientists would have been imprisoned if they were here in American because they refused to make any prediction of an earthquake that ultimately happened, killing hundreds of people. Primarily because our constitution wouldn’t allow it; however, if CHILDREN were sexually assaulted because they didn’t predict it would happen, those scientists would go to jail for life! Then their families would suffer constant humiliation and assault from torch bearing Americans. In other words, when it comes to children, Americans conveniently throw out the constitution (Many people on the blogs actually felt that Jerry Sandusky’s Lawyer should have been put in jail for defending him).

    Americans are only this way when it comes to children. Don’t get me wrong, child sexual abuse is a bad thing BUT instead of focussing on the pervert who truly sexually abused the child, Americans start shooting 12-gauge shotguns into the crowd. All of a sudden it’s EVERYBODY’S fault. Friends and neighbors of the pedophile come under suspicion because after all, since they knew him they should have suspected he was engaging in illicit activities with children. And just because they knew a pedophile, in most Americans’ eyes, they’re guilty by association. Same with the perpetrator’s family just because they are related to him and should have known what he was doing. Even though, the pedophile’s friends and family had no way of knowing what was in the guy’s head or what he did in his spare time. Americans become so uncivil anytime a child sexually assaulted and completely lose all sense of logic.

  39. Shayne October 31, 2012 at 4:37 am #

    Lenore, I hope you all are safe and that all is well.

  40. WxGeek October 31, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    I am a meteorologist and I would just like to say thank you for bringing up this crazy Italian court decision. It really makes me scared that folks can’t understand an inherent unpredictability.

    With regards to Sandy, the forecasts were outstanding, accurately predicting landfall within 30 miles almost 5 days in advance. Sadly outstanding science does not mean outstanding outcomes or outstanding media/public reactions. In my area,where we expected moderately high winds, rain and a chance of power outages we had folks acting like it was the end of the world… meanwhile in New Jersey we had folks not heeding evacuations. Assessing risk is a skill that needs to be taught. In my area I took a few minutes to put deck chairs away and find the flashlight buried in the closet. A few minutes work which helped out when the power went out – as I said to a friend “what’s to loose?”

    I can only hope our society can learn to differentiate between the accuracy of science, the unpredictability of nature, and the relative risk of outcomes – otherwise I’ll be finding a new career.

  41. Bob Davis November 1, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    With all this serious discussion, may I insert a bit of “comic relief”? Many years ago, I saw a cartoon that showed a deserted picnic area, with rain pouring down. Above the tables is a banner, almost washed out by the storm. You can just barely make out….. “Welcome to the Meteorological Society Picnic.”

    And yes, I too was aghast at the Italian court verdict. One is tempted to ask the judges, “What were you guys smoking?” or, how did a law like that get passed by their Parliament?

  42. ThatDarnCat November 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Amber needs to be hit my a meteorite.

  43. Katie November 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    The case in Italy is crazy.


  1. Quick Hits of the Week « A Bodey in Motion - November 15, 2012

    […] Part of the problem that our garden hose wielder was running into was the fear of what might happen. The police couldn’t risk him even trying to stave off the flames, because if he were hurt or killed, they would likely receive some blame. We live in a society that more and more tells us that if we can do something to reduce a risk we should do it, no matter the cost, or the limiting freedom. Every time somebody dies in a tragedy, somebody is to blame. […]