Response to Ted Frank’s (AEI) “Evil Is Always With Us”
Quickly, here's a great response in the comments section of Ted Frank's recent post "Evil Is Always With Us" in the Washington Post's Think Tank Town series.
Frank attempts to characterize the recent college shootings as unfortunate, but mostly so because of the "extortionate settlements" he predicts it will create.
Today, however, we have a legal system that gives entrepreneurial lawyers the incentive to find others than Cho to blame -- but the deepest pockets, rather than the most culpable. This can lead to absurd results: A New York jury held that terrorists who exploded a truck bomb in the World Trade Center in 1993 were only 32% responsible, but that the landlord was 68% responsible for the losses from that crime.
We can expect the same blame-shifting over this week's tragedy. With 20/20 hindsight, some will blame Virginia Tech for not anticipating precisely where a spree killer would be; others will seek to hold gun sellers or video-game makers liable. Millions of dollars will be spent on lawyers and perhaps even extortionate settlements. (link)
Here's a great response in the comments section of that piece by AnnS:
"effects that fear of liability has had on the ability of schools to do the right thing."
Oh for heavens sake! The school did not take action because there was no action that could be taken back in December 2005. He hasn't threatened anyone or harmed anyone. He had committed no crime that would justify expulsion (and the only possible offense was one where the witness, a woman, refused to co-operate.)
If universities start expelling students for depression (the only diagnosis then), then they have to expel ALL student who are depressed or go for counseling. The latest studies of mental health in college show that means kicking out 46% of the students.
This is a country that probably buys more Prozac than it does ice cream.
Potential lawsuits didn't "scare" the university into doing nothing - they had no grounds to do anything.
Being uncommunicative and weird are generally not reasons for being expelled. If the professors had had the intellectual honesty to flunk him for the poor writing, he would have been out for poor performance (and he might have gone off sooner and killed them from what we know now.)
So should the university refused to accept students who have or seem to have mental illnesses or problems functioning? That, of course, includes ADD and other faddish behavior labels. Some are minor, some are severe but all are a disability of some sort.
Get off your pet neo-con hobby horse. Its a bore and not consistent with the facts. (link)
In addition, here is a critique of Frank's characterization of the trial related to the first WTC attack from Victor Comras' Civil Liability is Crucial in the War on Terrorism: A Response to the Wall Street Journal (via Tort Deform post).
Mr. Frank’s op-ed is keyed to recent Federal District Court decisions denying motions to dismiss lawsuits against NatWest and Credit Lyonnais. Those suits allege that both institutions provided banking services for charities and other entities known to fund Hamas. He also cites in justification of his thesis an earlier case involving the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He derides NY Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Figueroa's instructions in that case which he characterizes as persuading the jury” …that the terrorists who planted a truck bomb in the World Trade Center garage in 1993 were only 32% responsible, while the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was 68% responsible.” That statement is really off the mark given that the allegations against the Port Authority in that case dealt with their alleged negligence and not any complicity with terrorism. (link)