The Crime is Reckless Driving

Whenever a child is killed in an auto accident, the question of whether the driver will be charged comes up, with the presumption of probably yes. To me, the crime is reckless driving, not killing a child. Almost certainly killing the child was not intentional. Sometimes a boy dies because he darts out between parked cars and the driver was taking all reasonable precautions. Granted, reckless drivers sometimes kill a child, but most of the time they don’t, just from dumb luck, not any virtue on their part. I think the emphasis should be moved more to punishing reckless or impaired drivers and away from punishing drivers who kill a child. The recklessness should be the criterion, in other words the intention to disregard other people’s lives, not the outcome. The lifetime guilt of killing a child is a punishment in itself.

Punishing for an accident, seems to me like a strange religious superstition, as if Yahweh had marked the driver as cursed and thus deserved further suffering. Scientists have discovered a tiny region of the brain. If it is damaged, people judge situations totally from the outcomes, ignoring the intentions. Perhaps that is how this legal perspective got started. Perhaps it is because you can never be certain about intention.

Similarly, it seems to me that if a gunman shoots someone, whether the victim lives or dies, does not depend on the gunman so much as the skill of the physicians who try to repair the damage. The crime should be attempting to kill someone, not being competent in killing. The crime should be careless gun handling, not having a gun accident. This is more difficult to judge that the traffic accident since people sometimes shoot others without intent to kill.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)