Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Government bans the 'A'-word

So the UK government has banned the A-word. Whilst i am delighted to see the back of the 'N' word and would dearly love to see the 'C' word go the same way, it is with dismay that i witness the passing of the 'Accident'.

Spiked Online reports that the word ‘accident’ is to be banned from the new edition of Britain’s Highway Code, which is published by the UK Department of Transport. Instead the words ‘collision’, ‘crash’ or ‘incident’ will be used to describe events that once were known as accidents.

Spiked says that

"The banning of the A-word is a consequence of a broader cultural outlook which insists that nothing happens accidentally these days and that there is always someone to blame. The Orwellian manipulation of language by the Department of Transport is only the latest phase in a culture war against the word ‘accident’. For some time, safety experts and health promotion activists have campaigned against the very idea of an accident. Public health officials will often argue that the injuries people suffer are usually avoidable and thus it is irresponsible to say they were simply caused in an ‘accident’."

In June 2001, the prestigious British Medical Journal signed up to the crusade, explaining in an editorial why it had decided to ban the word accident from its pages. ‘Since most injuries and precipitating events are predictable and preventable’, the word accident should not be used to refer to ‘injuries or the events that produce them’.

We seem unable to accept the fact that bad things just happen. Instead we desperately try to discover a reason behind every incident. We explore our illnesses and injuries to discover their hidden meaning. The notion that someone we love may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time is antithetical to today’s need to endow every misadventure with purpose.

Our litigious culture has helped to foster a climate where adverse experiences are readily blamed on other people’s negligence. Guys, sometimes shit just, well, happens.

As author Frank Furedi remarks in a separate article,

"There is a foolproof way of preventing all skiing injuries - ban people from taking to the slopes in the first place. Cyclists' injuries can be prevented by forbidding people from riding bikes. Recently I talked to a group of teachers who had decided to ban children from playing with skipping ropes - because since children sometimes fall while skipping, surely the best way to prevent accidental falls was to prevent the game."

Last year an email did the global rounds entitled, 'The Death of Common Sense'. The email concludes with this,

'Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust: his wife, Discretion: his daughter, Responsibility: and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers: I know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm a Victim.'

If you too are frustrated by the rise and rise of the nanny state and the rise and rise of the 'Rights' Industry, you may be interested in this new political party in Australia.