Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blame the object? Or the person?

Something struck me while listening to the news story about five teenage girls killed in a car accident after the driver was apparently distracted by text-messaging a friend while she was driving.
I found it interesting that in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting, people were quick to blame the shooter's ability to buy firearms and the renewed cry for gun control. But after the deaths of these young ladies in New Jersey, people focused on the girls' use of their cell phones.

In both cases, the misuse of a legal, inanimate object led to the needless deaths of far too many people. But in the former case, voices cried for regulation, whereas in the latter case, those same voices cried out for common sense in the use of the object that led to their demise.

The irony is that the proper use of a firearm is likely to lead to someone's death or great bodily harm, whereas the proper use of a cell phone is unlikely to kill anyone. Note the term "proper use." If a firearm is being "properly used," that means it is being used in self-defense. This means that using the firearm is, in the shooter's judgment, preventing undue harm coming to them or someone else.

The common thread through both of these cases is the importance of proper use, especially in the case of the text-messaging driver, which proved that even the most seemingly benign tool can be deadly when misused.

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