Risky Business

The discussion last night in the world’s fabbest chatroom became a bit heated.

Someone made the statement that “if you hang around with drug dealers and thugs, you’re asking for trouble???, which was somehow interpreted as “Girls who wear short skirts deserve to be raped???. I’ve misquoted there for brevity, but you get the general idea. Of course the world would be a lovely place if we could all go where we liked and do what we liked without fear – but the world isn’t a lovely place, and it won’t become one by us pretending that it is.

Of course, no-one deserves to be raped, murdered, mugged, or even treated a bit unpleasantly, and make no mistake – when these things happen, the offender is the one to blame. But we all have a responsibility to take sensible precautions for our own safety. If I went into “The Brightwater???1 wearing my Pompey shirt, I wouldn’t deserve to be smacked in the mouth, but I wouldn’t be entitled to feel surprised if it happened. No-one deserves to be run over by a bus, but if you walk out in the road without looking, it’s going to happen one day.

There’s a well-known bit of case law in Health and Safety circles2 in which a judge told someone who’d been injured in an accident at work, “You are a particularly stupid individual and you have contributed significantly to your own misfortune???. No-one deserves to get hurt, but acting like a particularly stupid individual is inviting trouble.

1 Local pub popular with Southampton supporters of a more…um…demonstrative disposition
2 Uddin v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd (1965), if you’re interested

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