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Don't Blame Tragedy on Freedom

When something terrible happens, like what happened at Phi Gamma Delta a few weeks ago, there is an atmosphere of impending blame: If I haven't been blamed yet I will be, so I'd better blame someone else. All parties connected to a tragedy begin to lay blame like fire. The parents and friends of the victim blame the school and the fraternity. It's easier to feel outrage than guilt or loss. The school blames the frat, alcohol policies, the Interfraternity Council, the alcohol industry, males ages 18 to 25, anyone who can divert the attention of the sensationalist press. For the press the question is which guilty parties will get the most rating mileage and generate the necessary 15 minutes of public outrage. Then, once the public is interested the politicians and police are forced to choose sides in the blame wars. All accidents have a cause; better make sure the cause is properly legislated against.

I think its time to stop. Stop blaming every tragedy on a freedom. In a free society bad things happen, individuals abuse their freedoms, and in theory we deal with them on an individual level. Individuals suffer the consequences, whether the consequences are artificial, such as arrest and imprisonment, or physical, such as injury and death. We don't take away the freedoms from everyone else.

Clyde J. Kendall '98