Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monster Truck Death

On Friday, a six-year-old boy was killed at a Tacoma monster truck rally. (The below video is not graphic. The opening photograph is the most intense shot.)

Four more rallies were scheduled at the Tacoma Dome throughout the weekend. All events took place as scheduled. None were canceled or delayed for extra safety checks or out of deference to the family of the deceased boy. And according to The Associated Press, the very next show after the death was sold out, and prospective ticket buyers had to be turned away.

Before the opening of the following show, a moment of silence was held in the boy's honor. But is this enough? It seems the show just went on as the big money-making machine that it was without real thought of the death it caused or new safety measures it might need to enact.

Something else I've noticed about this situation: The Seattle PI allows comments after their online article on this event. And many of the comments point to the fault of the parents for taking their child to the monster truck rally, saying they got what they deserved (a dead child) for taking their child to a risky event. (Update: Having trouble linking to the PI, but a similar thing is going on at the Times, so I will link to their discussion.)

Now, the PI article, which presumably these commentators have just read, cites statistics that state monster truck accidents have killed five people and injured more than 40 between 1992 and 2007. Those aren't large numbers. It's still probably something you can go to with the expectation of safety. I'd have to look up statistics, but the zoo might be more dangerous than that. Certainly, driving your child in the car is more dangerous. And would you throw blame at a parent who just tragically lost their child in a car accident that clearly wasn't their fault?

I know it's an overarching trend, but I'm frequently shocked by the tenor of some people's comments online. It reminds me of Marshall McLuhan's theory of Discarnate Man. What will we say and do when separated from our physical selves. (McLuhan meant it in relation to the telephone, but it perhaps applies even better to newer technologies.) I doubt someone would face-to-face accuse a grieving parent of being responsible for their child's death because they took them to a monster truck rally.

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