Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Fault Injury?

No Fault Injury?

Once again, the uproar about serious hockey injuries has erupted. It will continue to do so simply because injuries like Pacioretty received a few nights ago will continue to occur. It may be the result of a brawl, deliberate hits or an “accident” as this one has been termed.

Despite Pacioretty’s inability to play hockey in the near future—may be a lifetime—apparently, no one is to blame. We’re told accidents happen, and should be expected in high speed, hard hitting games. Expect to get injured and suffer the consequences. Survival of the fittest!

But accident or not, why is the one causing the injury absolved from responsibility? In a dangerous game, the expectation is that a player will cause, as well as receive, injury, so why not expect to share in the consequences?

A vehicle “accident” is always paid for the by the causing party, and even the game of hockey itself is fairer than life. Every foul requires a penalty—accident or not. Yet strangely, that principle is considered too vengeful for real injury.

The common complaint of western “justice” is that the punishment rarely fits the crime, even though popular wisdom dictates that an “eye for an eye” or “life for a life” is malicious and vindictive. But of course, that was never the purpose.

The principle of an “eye for an eye” simply ensured the punishment fit the crime and there was no gain for the perpetrator. That was not only a deterrent, it also prohibited escalation, while satisfying the concept of fairness in justice.

Unfortunately, the principle of punishment fitting the crime has been devalued in western culture because wrong doing is considered a character flaw to be corrected, not a vice that requires a penalty. Just consider Canada’s prison system; “Corrections Canada” says it all!

Let’s be honest. It’s selfishness—our current cultural creed—that requires the other guy to take the fall—in Pacioretty’s case, literally and outcome. Yet fairness would dictate that a perpetrator suffer the same game consequences as the injured player.

It seems to me that if the one causing the injury automatically suffered the same loss of hockey as the victim, not only would violence decrease, perhaps the rules of the game itself would change. However, I’m not sure Canada could cope with a kinder, gentler hockey, or even a simple thorough-going fairness.

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