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Monday, December 10, 2007

Blameworthy

Headline, CNN, December 4, 2007: Storm Blamed for 18 Deaths

Headline, Washington Post, December 10, 2007: 3 Shooting Deaths Blamed on Domestic Dispute

"Blame" derives from the Late Latin word, blasphemare, (also the root of "blasphemy") and primarily means "to hold responsible or accountable."

Can a force of nature be held to account? Can it be responsible (as in, to answer for)? Can it defend itself (as in, to respond)? Can it be hauled into court and subsequently required to pay recompense or be remanded in durance vile? No? Then it cannot be "blamed." Blame requires fault, and fault requires intent, and intent requires consciousness. Storms (at least as far as Livia is aware) have yet to develop self-awareness. The deaths can be attributed to the storm; they can be a result of the storm, but they cannot be blamed on the storm.

And how on earth did that domestic dispute get its hands on a gun?

LIVIA DRUSA

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