Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who's Responsible for Vehicular Homicide?

In a 7/2/2008 Boston Herald article, entitled, "Grieving Mom Guns For Bars," a distraught Dorchester mother whose son was killed by a drunken driver allegedly last served at a Braintree pub, wants that bar to be punished for her son's death.

Click here to read the article.

The mother is outraged that the bar, which was identified when the driver was questioned by the judge after his conviction, was never reported to state regulators and was never punished, "even though it was identified as having served last blasts to two other drunken drivers that year."

The question is, is the last bar that served the driver responsible for the actions of that driver? Should any other bar he drank at that night also be punished? What about the very first? What about the convenience store owner who may have sold him a six pack, which the driver could have drank before heading out to the bars later on in the evening? How far do we go in asigning blame to everyone else? Why not punish the car dealership that sold this car to the man who could have inebriated himself and crashed it into the victim? Why not punish the car company as well? Better yet, why not just punish the man who decided to drive under the influence?

And what could state regulation possibly accomplish, except to waste taxpayer money? After all, the government's brilliant idea of Prohibition--intended to save the morality of the People from the immorality of imbibing alcohol--resulted in the decrease of soft alcohol consumption, like beer, and the increase of hard alcohol consumption, like spirits. The many watering holes that legally served beer and ale were shut down, forcing creative but shady entrepreneurs to open a handful of underground speakeasies that served whiskey, and dangerous "moonshine" at high prices--a textbook case of the Iron Law of Prohibition taking effect. Prohibition actually fed the monster it intended to slay and helped it to grow. The result of Prohibition was a rise in alcoholism, organized crime, and the rise in the incarceration rate for non-violent crimes (drinking). As always, societal problems are exacerbated by government interference. Like the old sitcom character, "The Greatest American Hero," even if government does ever solve a problem, it ends up making a mess of everything else in the process.

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