Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Zero Tolerance Mentality

I was reading the Houston Chronicle website this morning and came across a story that probably won’t stir up much on the national media scene. A local school bus driver accidentally ran over and killed a young girl back in August, a tragedy which forced the system to charge him with negligent homicide. Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam wants to make a clear statement and so the bus driver, Jerry Michael Cook, 41, was charged with murder following a probable cause hearing before state District Judge Marc Carter. Cook also was charged with negligent homicide, said Warren Diepraam, an assistant Harris County district attorney. (emphasis added)

“Diepraam said he chose to seek a murder charge and not just the criminal negligent homicide because the law provides extra protection for children.”

According to the article blood tests taken after the accident did not reveal the use of alcohol or any illegal drugs; something that would have justified such an upgrade in criminal charges.

“Cook's attorney Robert Fickman said his client would plead not guilty at the time of trial.

"We simply believe it was a tragic accident," Fickman said”

{ … }

But Diepraam said, "accidents are against the law, too."

I would like to point out the trend in our society of “over kill” when dealing with otherwise minor lapses that fall under various conditions of the human condition. This trend of going all out to enforce rules and laws that ignore the fact that life happens along the way, accidents happen along the way; that “save our children” as an idea will make us a better society, does nothing to bring back those children lost already and only brings about rigidity to an already inflexible society.

What about the other victim, the bus driver? Here is a human being who has to live with the memory of that day. For what ever reason, he momentarily was not alert; whether it was due to some disturbance on the bus, a speck of dust landing in his eyes, the sun bouncing off the windshield of another vehicle; that will remain with him all his life. One thing we do know, the accident was not the result of his having ingested alcohol or some illegal drug. He didn’t put gun sights on the front of his bus and line up that little girl in the cross hairs, drool forming in the corner of his lips as he thought to himself, “Now I’ve got you my pretty. Those ruby slippers are mine!”

The State of Texas has decided that not only did he have a tragic accident, one that took the life of a young girl; but that somewhere down the road, IF the State of Texas can destroy this bus driver, drag his good name across the pavement leaving raw meat and fresh blood for all to see that it will serve as a sufficient warning to never ever again permit any future accidents. With logic like that we all need to stay in bed until we die.

I heard a motivational talk one time that covers chance, that part of life of which we are all subjected to. The example used was of a man who missed out on life’s opportunities because he was afraid that something might not go perfectly. The man wouldn’t leave home until all the traffic lights along his projected route were all green.

In a mock job interview where the applicant was holding back on his commitment to sign up with his future employer he was reluctant; sitting on a fence as it were. “Well, what if on my way to work I have an accident, my leg gets broken and I end up in the hospital for an extended period of time; would that be covered under your company insurance benefit policy?”

The interviewer pondered the question and then asked one of his own, “Okay, so you have a bad accident, only instead of breaking your leg, your neck is broken and you become paralyzed for the rest of your natural life; isn’t that just as possible in a bad accident? What then?”

“You’re making fun of me”, the applicant replied and squirmed in his seat for having opened up a Pandora’s Box, the old, “what if game”.

Is the example I put here related to the bus driver accidentally running over and killing a young girl? What about the nature of government officials attempting to overcome the laws of nature by establishing a set of rules to prevent the unpreventable?

Here are some extensions of that form of logic. From this day forth NASA has the responsibility of stopping all meteors from crashing into the Earth. Should a meteor actually cause damage, either from tidal wave after impacting the oceans or by landing on an inhabited area and causing loss of life; at that time criminal charges of Murder will be brought to bear on those in charge. Laugh if you will; but it is no more ridiculous than the State of Texas going for Jerry Cook’s jugular when other alternatives with less impact would have sufficed.

By the way, there will likely be an opening for the position of bus driver. Now that we have a better understanding of the risk involved in that particular endeavor; anybody want to apply for that position? Great benefits package; sign up today.

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