Blame and Consequences

There are good reasons to want to know the cause of an accident, a fire, – or even a crime; finding out the cause of – the reason for – something undesirable happening could help prevent a recurrence.

The media seem to think that we, the public, feel that assigning blame is at least as important as determining the cause. Or, perhaps, it is top-down; the media want us to think it is at least as important to find someone to blame as it is to find the cause.

A cause (noun) is a reason for an action or condition, as in cause and effect. To blame (verb) is to find fault with or hold responsible for something going wrong. Sometimes, the media gets it right; points out that there is a cause to blame for something going wrong. Too often, they don’t; they only look for someone to blame and don’t even mention the most probable cause.

Someone, or something, might be both the cause and the blame. If the goal is to find someone to punish, to hold to account; then, indeed, find someone to blame. If we want to prevent recurrence, we should know the cause. The media’s job is to inform, not tell us what we want to hear. Not the who, but the why.

These days, tens of millions (soon to become billions) of humans are being displaced by climate change. Climate change is known to be caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Most of this burning has occurred in first-world economies. It follows that the people of these first-world economies are most responsible (to blame) for this displacement. We in the first-world nations are both the cause and the ones to blame. Those displaced are the victims.

If climate change was their fault, they would be responsible, to blame. If it was their fault, it wouldn’t be ours. But, it is. We of the first world nations are the ones to blame, the ones responsible. What right have we to jail them, deny them asylum, or deport them because of a situation of our making? Blaming the victim is never excusable; especially not when done by those actually responsible. The displacement caused by climate change is more Texas’ fault, the United States’ fault, than it is of those attempting to cross the Rio Grande. They didn’t do it. It isn’t their fault. They don’t deserve any punishment; let alone that of loss of livelihood. We did it. We First World countries owe those displaced by climate change a means of livelihood, be it asylum or in their own country.

In the broadest of senses, punishment is often much about imposing standards of behavior. Be they for good or for bad reasons; it is either observe these norms or face the consequences. In recognition of the threat of zealotry, the Declaration of Independence declares that all men are endowed with certain unalienable rights; the Bill of Rights codifies ten of these unalienable rights. Early on, it was obvious that the Bill of Rights was inadequate. Some of the inadequacies have since been remedied, but the amendment process has proven to be painfully difficult and slow; woefully inadequate the task.

Meanwhile, in America, there are people, whole states full of people, who would rather punish someone than eat grits; states that used COVID grants to fund jails and prisons. Much of this zealotry is in the name of their interpretation of an ancient religion; not on the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights. Invariably, these same states seek to ban abortion and regularly impose the death penalty. They love to deny rights; to take away rights not covered in the amendments. From Jeff Sessions to Tommy Tuberville; goddam Alabama, that’s no progress at all!

Denying a woman the right to choose is zealots imposing their beliefs on someone else. Blaming her for an unwanted pregnancy, and then punishing her for exercising her right to choose is icing on the cake with ice cream. Tommy believes that giving a woman the right to choose denies him his right to impose his and his constituents’ beliefs on her and others; that the two are somehow equivalent. He believes that the right to choose between the two should be his.

Sin/law, law/sin; dominance in the name of god, in the name of the law. The law allows for the blaming, the blaming allows for punishment, and all is well under heaven in Alabama.