How Does Jail Time Sound?
I’m a big fan of shows like Dateline, especially when they get into legal nuances.
Consider involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. I won’t parse the differences; for the moment, they both work as a crime where someone is criminally responsible for another person’s death. That means the charge carries jail or prison time.
Remember, these aren’t premeditated, coldblooded murders. Rather, they’re situations where someone’s action or inaction led to another person’s death. Even though that death wasn’t something the first person intended, wanted, or planned, they’re still responsible for causing it.
And they usually end up with jail time.
If a driver is texting and hits a pedestrian who dies, the driver is responsible for the pedestrian’s death.
In one case, a mother who was high on drugs breastfed her baby, and the drugs came through the milk, killing the child. The mother was liable for the death.
In yet another case, a man was upset at a referee and punched him. The ref sustained head trauma and died. The man who hit him probably thought that sure, he’d lost his cool, but what’s the harm in a black eye? Instead, he was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Similarly, if the owner of a gun doesn’t store it safely, and someone else — say, a child — finds the gun and discharges it, killing themselves or another child (sadly, a situation that has happened all too often), the owner of the gun can be held liable for the death.
If someone were to hold a party and sprinkle ricin or anthrax throughout the room, they’d be held liable for anyone who died from the poison.
In other words, in a civilized society, we are responsible for the effects of our actions, even when those effects are consequences we don’t expect or want.
This is where I go back to my days a teenager in my church’s youth program, where we were taught to embrace seven values and apply them to our lives. One of them was Choice and Accountability, meaning that we understood that choices have consequences, and we would accept responsibility for those choices.
A simplistic example: I can’t go outside in the summer for eight hours and decide not to get a sunburn. Natural laws don’t care what I want. I have to apply sunscreen to avoid getting burned, or I’ll suffer the consequences.
Consequences are easier to accept when your own action/inaction affects only yourself. (You didn’t study for the test, so you failed it. You were speeding and therefore got a ticket.)
It’s harder to accept consequences of our own actions when they affect someone else, especially someone we don’t even know.
But that’s reality: we CAN affect others, and we DO affect others.
Right now, we have an important way of affecting others — putting them at risk or protecting them, in the form of whether we unintentionally spread a deadly virus that kills a vulnerable person because we didn’t wear a mask.
No one has the right to inadvertently kill someone else. That is literally against the law, and there are names for it: negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter, etc.
The right to life is the first one that Thomas Jefferson listed in the Declaration of Independence as our unalienable rights given to us by God.
My — and your — not wearing a mask puts someone else’s #1 right at risk.
So no more arguing that not wearing a mask is a right. It’s not.
You’re infringing on someone else’s right to LIVE.
But hey, if that’s not enough, wear the dang mask for an entirely selfish reason: so you don’t end up guilty of manslaughter or negligent homicide.
I won’t be at all surprised if, especially with the numbers we’re seeing where I live, people responsible for certain events and behaviors end up being charged with criminal offenses for spreading Covid-19.
Don’t be one of them.
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