Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Can" Doesn't Always Equal "Should"

Several years ago, my dad was assaulted at a fast food restaurant. The assailant fled, and my dad wound up with a broken hip. The assailant had enough of a conscience to call the restaurant afterward and ask how my dad was, but not enough of one to turn himself in. After my dad was released from the hospital, having had surgery and a lot of physical therapy, a lawyer told my parents they could sue the restaurant. Excuse me? Yeah, we were all angry about what had happened, and some of us (ahem) spent a lot of time driving around the surrounding neighborhoods, looking for cars that fit the description of the assailant's vehicle. It was awful. But did the restaurant assault my dad? Was the restaurant responsible for knowing a guy was about to attack my dad? It wasn't even my dad's fault. The entire blame lay with the guy who got away, and I have to believe karma will even things out someday. When my folks told us kids about the lawyer's suggestion, we said if they decided to go that route, they'd better not tell us about it because we didn't support it, and in the end they decided not to sue the restaurant because it was just plain wrong.

A few weeks ago, the kiddo, his dad and I went to a baseball game for Little League Day. Prior to the start of what turned out to be a 17-inning game, the announcer requested a moment of silence in respect for Josh Hancock, the Cardinals pitcher who'd been killed in a car crash the night before. Wow, I thought, how terribly sad. Fast forward to today's sports news, in which I read that Hancock's father is suing the restaurant that served drinks to his adult son earlier that night, the tow truck company whose truck Hancock hit, the tow truck driver, and the owner of the car that the tow truck was assisting. (No one but Hancock was killed or even injured.) Well, guess what. As I learned not long after the crash, Josh Hancock had been driving drunk, speeding, talking on his cell phone and not wearing a seat belt. Talk about tempting fate. Then again, look at the latest actions of the guy who was supposed to teach his son about responsibility. Doesn't it all make sense now?

I'm sorry for Josh Hancock's family. The whole situation is sad, and I can't even imagine what their pain is like right now. I can only hope it's their pain that's temporarily causing them to look everywhere for people to blame for Hancock's actions that night. Maybe they'll think about what kind of message they and their son are sending to kids who adore their sports heroes. And maybe they'll realize that they and Hancock have no one to blame for his death except Hancock himself. That'll be a hard realization, and I feel for them.