Home > Choices, Media > That’s not what accident means

That’s not what accident means

I’ve been following the news stories surrounding UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love’s death, apparently at the hands of her ex-boyfriend George Huguely. At this point, papers are reporting that Huguely admits to slamming Love’s head repeatedly against the wall and leaving her face down on her bed, where she was later discovered dead in a pool of her own blood.  Huguely’s lawyer is not disputing that his client was “involved in an altercation” with Love, but says “We are confident that Ms. Love’s death was not intended but an accident with a tragic outcome.” [emphasis is mine]

I have a problem with defining accident in this way.  Slamming a person’s head against a wall repeatedly is not “an accident.”  That it caused her to die might be an accident in Huguely’s mind, but his attack was not accidental and cannot be treated as such.

The statement reminds me of an ongoing discussion I had with my first-graders last fall.  It started when one of the boys finished eating a tomato and, to clean his hands of seeds and juice, shook them hard, flinging tomato bits all over his classmates.  In response to their loud objections to being sprayed with tomato, the boy said indignantly, “it’s not my fault I go’d like this! [shaking hands]”

This sparked a discussion of what it means for something to be an accident, what control we have over our own actions, and why it’s important to think about what you’re doing and whether it might bother or hurt other people.  Even the first-graders understood that it’s not okay to hurt other people and that claiming it was an accident doesn’t absolve you of responsibility for the pain you cause others.  Huguely – and his lawyer – seem to be missing this understanding.  If Huguely didn’t want Love to die, he shouldn’t have attacked her.  Attacking her and then saying her death was a tragic accident is something even a first grader knows is wrong.

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Categories: Choices, Media Tags: , ,
  1. Lauren
    May 6, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Can you leave this as a comment on the article? Or some version of it?

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