Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Heather Heyer's Liability


I’m no biblical Solomon. OK? I get that. But a huge part of my job as a liability adjuster – which I’ve been doing for more years than some of you have lived – is assigning blame when bad things happen. Most of time, it’s somebody’s fault, more than it is the fault of others. We refer to those percentages of fault as comparative or contributory negligence. The most hard-assed of claims reps may, for example, argue that if you hadn’t gotten out of bed and gone to McDonalds for breakfast the morning the 18-wheeler lost control, crossed the median, bounced through the ditch, and smashed your Subaru in the parking lot, then your car wouldn’t be damaged.  Therefore, he’ll only offer to pay for 90% of your damages. That’s an extreme example, and of course dude would (probably) lose in court, but you get my point.  The topic of conversation today is regarding who’s to blame for the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a young lady was murdered (and several others injured) by a Nazi who rammed his speeding car into her crowd. Was the Nazi insured? Doesn’t really matter, because this was obviously an intentional act and would be excluded by his liability policy. But blame has to be assigned, none-the-less.  There are people (more than a reasonable human might think), including the current President of the United States, who are offering up what we call a 50/50 comparative scenario. Basically, they’re saying that had these counter-protesters not been there to do their counter-protesting, none of this melee would have taken place – nobody would have been killed or injured. Assumption of risk. Further, some of them go so far as to say that because the Nazis had a permit for their goose-stepping party, and the counter-protesters didn’t have a permit, they are more responsible for the violence, in general, than those skinheads carrying their weapons and torches – clearly designed to intimidate everybody else.  I’m wondering who the Nazis thought they were going to intimidate if nobody had shown up for their rally. I’d offer that as a suggestion for future rallies, if not for the realization that there are (thankfully) people in this world who just don’t have it in them to ignore extreme bigotry, such as that demonstrated by these despicable groups. They do know they are in danger by speaking out against them, and yet, they persist. They do share some small percentage of liability for what happens to them. And for that, every true American should be thankful. Thank you, Heather Heyer, for your courage and your sacrifice in helping to shine the light of truth and decency into the abyss of hate that America is in danger of becoming.

© Rick Baber, 2017