Perfect blame

A recent news item from Finland: a girl of eight died of swine flu. Especially tragic as she had visited a hospital and they had sent her back home to get better.

The reaction of some people to this drives me up the wall: namely the reaction that the hospital staff is to blame, and should be blamed and should be punished.

That’s bonkers; bonkura-su in Japanese. Bonkers, unless the threshold for hospital workers is 100% perfect accuracy and foresight.

Even mathematicians can’t get that!

The same thing happened with one of those random and exceedingly rare school shootings* in 2008: the shooter had been talked to by the police before the tragedy, but had been dismissed as a harmless kid. And again the same cries: blame the police! Punish the police! They should have known! — and again the same madness, as if one is expected to be a perfect seer of all that is to come by the virtue of a blue uniform or a white one.

(Then again, to say that they should have done this or that just in case — well, that’s a valid point, but hospitalizing even the unlikelies in a time of already strained resources, or yoinking someone’s personal gun away on nothing more than a hunch, is costly and unfair.)

(Then again, a lot of things are done “just in case” because in every group of people there is a sizable minority of utter bastards; even among nuns I suppose though that’s hard to imagine.** That’s why there are locks and metal detectors and such: just in case the utter bastard should come by. But there always has to be a balance between bother and safety; if safety is all that matters then heigh-ho and to the cavity search we all go before getting on a plane.)

People aren’t perfect, and it’s a tad ridiculous to punish them afterwards for decisions that were reasonably justified when they were made; or for errors that are the inevitable result of any imperfect operation of imperfect hominids, no matter how diligent and dutiful they are. Being imperfect is not negligence, and it’s not a crime, no matter the results.

Not that this is in any way a profound idea, but just felt that I either had to write this, or go pound my head against a wall.

* * *

* : “random and exceedingly rare” — just so. There have been two in the past few years, but you have to go back in time to 1989 (I think) to find a third, which was also the first in Finnish history; and don’t go making too many inferences of increase from three points of data. Just because two instances of a very rare event happen close together doesn’t mean the society is rotten and the world is oh noes ending. There are people who win the lottery twice; and in a similarly probabilistic way there are consecutive years when something ugly and rare happens, usually utilizing the guns and scrawled notes (or Youtubes) du jour.

** : An utter bastard nun, imagined: “Your rosary? I shoved it up my ass, Theresa! Ke ke ke ke!”

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