By John M. Phillips
An original civil rights pioneer, Abraham Lincoln, often said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
We, as a country, were founded on freedom- freedom to do, say and act how we wish. It was a system of ideals – a literal Constitution– that stemmed from oppression and longing for expression. But that very freedom was tucked inside Pandora’s Box. Because my free expression and your free expression (or desire to avoid my expression) may contrast. Our grandfathers may not have valued each others’ rights, but that doesn’t mean that we have to hold on to that dowry of hate. We cannot hold on to that. Pandora’s box of freedom is open and making everyone upset, some people crazy and dividing this nation further. As KRS-One rapped, “Self destruction, (we)’re headed for self destruction.”
Even though some hold sacred the Constitutional Right to the violent ‘defense of self’ guaranteed by the Second Amendment, other Amendments were drafted to provide rights to women and minorities- to force peace and quality. It means our forefathers were wrong sometimes, too. Even Thomas Jefferson thought the Constitution of this nation should be redrafted every generation or so. Yet, some now use those very Second Amendment guarantees to define freedom in America. Lincoln would undoubtedly define that as- “faltering.” We cannot impinge or insult one another and use the Second Amendment to bail ourselves out of mere free or misunderstanding. We cannot be violent mice waiting for our tail to be stepped on to teach the great elephant a lesson.
What if -and this is just a hypothetical- George Zimmerman is as much of a “wanted man” as his own family and legal counsel claim. And what if -to continue that hypothetical- someone he considers menacing (a black child with candy, soft drink and a possible bad attitude, perhaps) comes at him in his car or in a store- fist in the air. Can he shoot and claim he was standing his ground or was in defense of self? And do it again? And do it again? Where is the line of defense of self and reason? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world where the Stand Your Ground killer is not only legal, but he (or she) is festering among us. ‘Dexter’ could run four more seasons if the writers dare approach the laws of lethal force and Stand Your Ground in Florida.
I respectfully ask -so what- that you agree Michael Dunn was wrong to kill Jordan Davis. It won’t bring Jordan back– a college bound kid with a more potential than Dunn ever had. It is time to stop the faltering. Or it is time to give up on some freedoms. Or just to find some common thread of kindness. We are headed towards self destruction. I don’t need you to agree, I need you to act.
As for Zimmerman, the jury has spoken. Yet, the jury had a -still- unanswered question before it spoke- a question I still ask -why didn’t anyone explain manslaughter? When you drive recklessly and kill someone, it is arguably manslaughter. When you act carelessly with a firearm, it is arguably manslaughter. When you kill someone with the intent to simply pull the trigger, it -legally- is manslaughter. And it was never argued. And I don’t believe it was self defense for any of about 50 reasons located here. The Prosecutors’ silence to omit manslaughter is only made louder by their desire to go on every talk show and justify their failures.
My only request, you have trial in less than two and a half months of a murderer who never had a hair harmed, ever called the police, who just went to his hotel and ate pizza after shooting ten times in a car, killing Jordan Davis- Because Stand Your Ground told him he could. And this nation falters under bad attitudes and worse laws. Get to work, please. Justice depends on it.
By John M. Phillips
It has been reported that anywhere from 28 to 30-plus fans were injured when a violent crash shattered a race car, slinging parts from the track at the Daytona International Speedway through and over the fence and into the grandstands. No fatalities were reported. This entry looks at injury liability, contract law and “assumption of risk” and copyright law.
The Saturday race was known as the NASCAR Drive 4 COPD 300 and is a part of the Nationwide Series. With two laps left, Tony Stewart took the lead, pushed by Sam Hornish. This pair couldn’t get more than a couple of lengths ahead of the pack, as racing has been made to be highly competitive over the years so finishes come down to an exciting ending. Hornish had to drop back to cool his engine. Stewart, without a partner, dropped to fifth. Brad Keselowski pushed Regan Smith into the lead. Hornish got back behind Stewart with just under a lap to go and pushed him through the traffic to challenge Smith for the lead on the outside. Coming out of the final turn, Smith moved high to block Keselowski, who was trying to slingshot past to take the lead. The two cars touched, turning Smith sideways, and setting off a chain of collisions in the following pack. Kyle Larson’s , several places back, was hit from behind, sending it into the car ahead. The nose of Larson’s car dug in, the tail rose, and the car lifted off, spinning into the catch fencing four feet in the air, above the SAFER barrier. The fencing stopped the car from entering the stands, but some parts including the engine and a front wheel, went through or over the fence and into the crowd. His car was desiccated in the crash.
As a result, two huge holes were ripped in the catch fencing, and a steel standard was bent by the force of a 3600-lb. racecar hitting it at 180 mph. Thankfully, the strength of the safety barrier was sufficient to keep most of the wreckage out of the stands. Had the fence been even slightly less strong, massive fatalities almost certainly would have occurred.
History of fan injury:
The worst motor racing spectator tragedy in history was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955. Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes shot into the main grandstands, immediately killing 81 spectators and Levegh. Officials at Le Mans decided not to stop the race, fearing that if they did, the ensuing bedlam would further jam the small roads from Circuit de la Sarthe back into the town of Le Mans, blocking the paths of ambulances carrying dozens of badly injured. Some French journalists believed the death toll eventually exceeded 100.
Flying tires have been a race promoter’s nightmare for decades. Most recently, tires and shrapnel flying over fences caused two tragedies in less than a year in Indy car racing in 1998 and ’99. Three spectators were killed during a CART race at Michigan International Speedway in ’98, by shrapnel that flew over the fence and into the stands. Less than a year later, at Charlotte Motor Speedway, three more fans were killed by one flying tire during an Indy Racing League event.
Those two tragedies prompted heightening and strengthening of catch fences, and widening of their overhangs, at tracks nationwide. NASCAR was proactive at that time, mandating tethers for wheels and hoods on its cars, so they’d be “tied down” essentially. But no tethers are totally invulnerable to shearing in crashes as violent as Saturday’s.
What went wrong:
NASCAR officials said the tether system designed to keep the tires attached to the car “for the most part held up” even though two tires went into the stands. “The tethers did hold on, but the challenge is that piece obviously got away when it hit the fence,” NASCAR Senior VP Steve O’Donnell said of the front of Larson’s car that was sheared off. “That’s something, again, we can learn [from]. “The tethers came from an incident where we learned with a tire going and escaping from the cars. We implemented tethers. Now we’ve got to take another look and say, ‘Hey, is that the best practice or is there more that we can do?’ ” O’Donnell did not speculate on whether the crossover gate in the fence at the major point of impact played a role in making the accident worse. The remaining front stretch crossover gates were not removed for the 500.
As most of you know by now, recently a Carnival cruise ship lost power at sea after a fire broke out on board. Passengers were trapped for days without electricity, proper plumbing, or descent meals. The conditions were apparently horrible, mostly resulting from the ships failed plumbing systems. Passengers described the conditions as “hellish,” “sewage everywhere,” and “a cesspool.”
According to a Reuters report at least one passenger has already filed a lawsuit against Carnival stating “horrifying” conditions including being forced to wade through human feces.
“The lawsuit by Cassie Terry of Brazoria County, Texas, alleged Carnival failed to provide a seaworthy vessel and sanitary conditions, according to court documents.” Reuters reported, “Terry suffered physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, nervousness and the loss of the enjoyment of life, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Miami.”
While the passenger’s experience onboard the liner was nothing short of awful, do they have a legitimate legal claim?
According to John, Carnival cruise line passengers signed stringent waivers and thus assumed the risk of this happening via contract. Therefore, cruise line damages are capped by contract. In the U.S., cruise ship contracts generally cannot dismiss claims for negligence that is willful and wanton or gross. Still tough here. The plaintiff(s) would have to show that they knew the engines were bad or in poor condition and likely to breakdown.
We will just have to wait and see what happens. Stay tuned for updates on the legal aspects of the Carnival cruise debacle.