M.A.D.D. And Why I'm Mad They Aren't More Effective
Which Poisonings Are Worse?
Some of us are old enough to recall why tamper-proof seals began to be used on so many food and drug items in the stores.
Those seals and the change in protective packaging they symbolized came about due to public fears and public indignation. The cyanide poisonings which were the cause for that change were horrific and condemned. The actual loss of life, due in part to prompt government and industry warnings and actions, was tragic, and the cause for several months of public concern. The momentary financial loss to one manufacturer was sizable but absorbed.
As I recall, ten people died as a result of the incident.
In that same year some thousands of people died, killed by other killers on our nation's highways and roads. Local media covered those deaths, and occasionally the number and circumstances of some of the deaths were so unusual that even the national media covered them.
But, there was little public indignation, little conscious fear, and, in contrast to the prompt actions of government and industry in the poison killings, life continued, little changed.
The two types of news stories, and their media coverage, are sources for some real pondering, not for their newsworthiness, but for a certain hypocrisy they illustrate.
The poisonings were unquestionably a major tragedy which called for a prompt remedy. As with much of our American tendency to govern ourselves by reacting to crises and solving them, the news at the time was filled with detailed advice to consumers, and the ultimately effective, detailed planning by government and industry. All that attention came about due to a very few sick people whose actions had seemed to threaten us all.
The irony, and potential hypocrisy in that news story, came from the fact that we had approximately 10 million Americans suffering from an equally dangerous sickness that threatened all Americans at the time, and their actions did not generate the same intensive efforts as the sick actions of those few Americans involved in the other poisonings. Those 10 million Americans had an alcohol problem.
Is there really a difference between a sick man or woman who puts deadly poison into a bottle that may eventually kill, and a man or woman who knowingly puts something that is toxic into themselves and then gets behind the wheel of a car or truck and drives on our public roads and highways where they may eventually kill?
Yet look at our determination to stop the first small group of poisoners, and our relative lack of concern for stopping the larger group which for years had been causing thousands of deaths each year!
To test this irony on yourself, ask yourself if you feel differently about one of the drivers who kills while under the influence of alcohol, and a poisoner who kills under the influence of any other evil or sick impulse.
If there is any difference in your reaction, perhaps it stems from the fact that a drunken person who is not behind the wheel of a vehicle has universally been characterized as being "funny." The abnormal behaviour of the poisoners was, by contrast, considered a very real nightmare.
To the victims and the families of any of these tragedies there really is no difference.
Why hasn't the same crisis response effort ever been successful in seeing that vehicles (like containers) can't be tampered with by an alcohol imparied person?
Yes, today some cars now have disable/enable mechanisms, intended to keep an intoxicated person from even starting a vehicle, but the estimate is that less than 1% of the vehicles being driven today are equipped with such a device.
Yes I am mad at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.), but not for what they have accomplished, but rather for what they haven't.
Stiffer sentences, license suspensions, and more consistent performance by prosecutors, judges, and the courts, are all progress in a right direction. But, this year more thousands of people will be killed on the roads by these killers, and a comprehensive, tamper-proof solution for stopping them is still not in place.
It is generally estimated that this year one person will die every 50 minutes in an accident caused by an alcohol-impaired driver.
If one of those killed is your friend, your relative, your classmate, your co-worker, you will understand where I am coming from, and maybe you, too, will insist that something be done to finally prevent such deaths and injuries NOW!
When we have taken every step we can to end the needless carnage, we can say as so many surgeons, firemen, police, highway patrol trooopers, and EMT's have had to say to the grieving: "I'm sorry, but we did everything we could."
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Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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