Friday, May 25, 2007
In the aftermath of pitcher Josh Hancock's death, his family filed a lawsuit against essentially every person who was alive in Illinois or Missouri the night of his fatal car accident. Autopsy toxicology reports revealed that Hancock was two times over the legal limit when he plowed his SUV into a tow truck that had stopped on the left side of the road to assist a motorist.
Among the people being sued are the bar that overseved Hancock, the tow truck driver, the driver of the broken down vehicle and the tow truck company. More defendants may be added later.
What really gets me about this is how it relates to the issue of overserving. At some point, adult people have to take responsibility for how much they drink. If you want to get technical about it, any restaurant or bar shouldn't serve anyone more than two drinks, since that puts a good portion of the population at or near the legal limit. Instead, Hancock's family is blaming everyone except who they should be blaming: Josh Hancock.
People have made attempts to blame the clubhouse culture in baseball in general, and the St. Louis Cardinals in particular for allowing drinking in the clubhouse, and not noticing that this guy needed help.
Our culture is the one to blame. One of the most popular and least effective programs to quit drinking, AA, begins with the alcoholic admitting they are powerless to control their disease. This perception that alcoholics are not capable of making sound decisions is lame. We blame drug users, people with AIDs, children of the poor, minorities, immigrants for things that they actually cannot control, but when it comes to alcoholics, we throw a huge pity party because they can't stop drinking.
We can debate whether or not alcoholism is a disease or not, but if you believe it is, the alcoholic is still to blame is many cases for not seeking treatment. You want to say it's a disease? Fine. But, then would you feel sorry for someone with AIDs who didn't get any treatment? That person would be vilified. Time and time again when alcoholics fail to complete treatment or relapse, we blame the disease.
That lack of accountability is what killed Josh Hancock.