Charter Member of the Sub-Media

May 01, 2005

Great Moments in Journalism « Media Distortions »

Or something.

I dunno. Michelle Malkin doesn't actually comment on the content of the story, she merely praises the story as a good example of journalism.

It might be. I can't get past the editorial aspect.

It is a magnificent, compassionate performance of storytelling. It didn't leave me in tears, but it did choke me up. Until I saw where the piece was heading. In my opinion, at least, the purpose of the article was to help you understand just how horrible this girl's experience was in order to draw attention and raise support for laws regarding highway debris.

The summary:
The girl in the story suffered a horrible injury. She nearly died, and will be blinded, disfigured, and probably brain-damaged for life. It happened because of a piece of plywood from a desk that fell off of a truck. The driver of the truck has had criminal convictions in the past. The girl's life is ruined, and many people think it is absolutely a travesty that the man who drove the truck could only be fined about $1000. They tried slapping him with a tenuously-applied charge of "hit and run" (as best as I can tell, because he didn't come forward and say it was wood from his desk), but they would have to have proven that he knew the piece of lumber caused an accident.

Here's the money graph:

King County prosecutors, frustrated by their inability to bring charges against Hefley, lobbied lawmakers to pass a tougher law on debris-caused accidents. They testified in the Legislature, telling Federici's story. The lawyers recruited sponsors, and with almost no debate, legislators approved the Federici Bill on April 14, 2005.


The Washington bill, awaiting the governor's signature, makes it a crime to fail to secure a load that results in bodily injury. Conviction could bring up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines. The person injured would also have access to a state compensation fund for crime victims.

Gerry Forbes, author of the AAA Foundation report, said it would be the most stringent law of its kind in the nation.

Here's the thing: you can't repeal the laws of physics. Accidents do happen, and you can't always find someone to blame. This guy didn't want to lose his desk, obviously. He secured it in a manner that he considered sufficient. Another law that would increase the penalty wouldn't have made a difference to him, nor to the next person who fails to properly secure a load.

People don't actually intend to cause accidents through the loss of their property, so making it worse when they make an error in judgment won't make any difference at all in people's behavior.

To me, this article was nothing more than an editorial to increase support for the bill on the basis of an extreme, but singular, example.

Posted by Nathan at 02:22 AM | Comments (1)

You nailed it. More fuel
for the litegation fire.

Posted by: drstat at May 1, 2005 03:53 PM
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