Garth George: Blame game is a national sport

By Garth George

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"The Government ought to do something about ..." or "there ought to be a law ..." how many times do we hear, or read, those sorts of statements, or something like them, uttered by citizens who act as if they're aggrieved?

All the time and, lately, with increasing frequency and shrillness.

It seems to me most people in this country are firmly locked into the blame game and any considerations of personal responsibility never enter their heads.

Let's look at the latest example, one of the most outrageous I've ever seen.

A new Rotorua resident suffered burns to his legs on a Sunday evening after dropping into a hot mud pool when the ground under him collapsed. He is still in Waikato Hospital.

The man later told the local newspaper that he was not "a risk-taking tourist" and that poor warning signs were to blame for burns suffered when the ground collapsed beneath his feet.

Then, in a statement to the press, the man's girlfriend, who was with him, said the pair were upset at being made to look like "imprudent tourists who ran a risk" and those who administered the park had a huge responsibility for what happened.

She said they wanted honesty around the incident because they didn't want to see it happening to anyone else.

And then? Someone handed in a camera to Rotorua police lost property and police photographers skimmed it to find out whose it might be.

They found pictures of the injured man and his girlfriend posing on the lip of a steaming mud pool and next to prominent warning signs. There are also photos of them sticking their hands in hot water, which, police said, "clearly shows they knew there was an inherent risk and one which was clearly signposted".

I wonder whether this pair will even have the gumption to be embarrassed over this disclosure.

Some wider examples. Because one or two ill-bred, ill-kempt and ill-trained dogs occasionally attack people, or kill sheep, all dogs get a bad name and the blame falls on the animals.

But the dog is not the problem - the owner is. Owners are people who should be held accountable for the damage their dogs do. Sometimes they are, but more often than not it's the dog that suffers - fatally.

But the cry goes up "the Government ought ..." and arcane, expensive and inconvenient laws get passed to restrict all dogs, 99,999 out of 100,000 of which have never put a paw wrong.

Obesity and its attendant diabetes are becoming a national epidemic. But people eat - and, unless they have decided otherwise, they will eat what they like, as they are perfectly entitled to do in this so-called free country. But instead of taking it for granted that some people are going to get fat and get diabetes, we hear "the Government ought ..." to pass a law to place restrictions on fast foods and soft drinks, etc.

There is an epidemic, too, of teenage binge drinking and all the attendant health, social and law-and-order problems that brings.

But instead of conceding that teens will experiment with alcohol - always have, always will - and some will overdo it and some will get hooked, what do we hear? That "the Government ought ..." to legislate the problem away.

The blame game, however, is instinctive: the instinct goes right back to the very first human beings.

What was it Adam whined to God when he was lumbered for eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden? "The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

But at least he blamed the woman, not the fruit.

garth.george@hotmail.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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