Friday, 2 January 2009

Blaming the victim

Our blood-drenched mass-slaughtering car supremacist transport culture, twinned with a car supremacist judicial system, is very fond of blaming the victim.

When a cyclist is killed we are often solemnly informed that the victim “was not wearing a helmet”. If you end up under the wheels of a heavy goods vehicle whether or not you are wearing a helmet is utterly irrelevant. If you are hit from behind by a speeding motorist a thin layer of polystyrene coated in a plastic membrane is not going to matter one little bit.

When pedestrians are run down on pedestrians crossings or when crossing the road at night we are often informed that the victim was “wearing dark clothing”. So the driver, who was approaching too fast and paying no attention to what was ahead of them, is partly or wholly exonerated from blame.

And now we have a moral panic about iPods. People listening to iPods aren't really any different to people who are deaf. And deaf people should not automatically be held to blame if they get run down while cycling or walking.

Headline in the Daily Mail

Girl, 14, killed by speeding driver as she crossed road listening to her iPod

A girl of 14 was killed by a speeding motorist as she crossed a road while listening to her iPod, an inquest has heard. Jordan Bell, of Colchester, Essex, died near her home on the afternoon of March 21. The inquest, in Chelmsford, Essex, has been told that the schoolgirl’s MP3 player was found in the road after the crash. PC Charles Harris, who investigated the incident, said inquiries concluded that Mark Batten was driving his Volkswagen Golf GTi ‘slightly lower than 40mph’ in a residential street where the speed limit is 30mph.Batten, 28, of Colchester, will appear before magistrates later this month after being reported for careless driving and driving with excess speed, the inquest was told. Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Which is followed by comments, one of which is

Nobody should attempt to cross a road unless they are sure it is safe to do so. Roads are where the cars are.
j.s., chester

I wonder what j.s.’s driving convictions are? You don’t have to be listening to an iPod to be mown down and killed by a driver doing 39 mph in a 30 mph zone. Apart from the possibility of a deaf pedestrian, you could, for example, be an octogenarian. You move slowly. And you don’t stand a chance against someone travelling at 40 mph in a residential street.

But once again the murderous motorist is protected by a judicial system which deems that the wilfully lawless act of propelling a ton of metal at high speed is no more than “carelessness”.

I was pleased to see this (and pleasantly surprised to find an MP with a bit of intelligence):

it was not the MP3 player which killed her, but the driver of a car travelling at nearly 40mph in a 30mph speed limit. Had he not been breaking the law, then Jordan (aged 14) would have safely reached the other side of the road.
Bob Russell MP
Chairman, all-party parliamentary group for justice for road victims