[LMB] Loyal to what?

Jaye Falls jaye.falls at gmail.com
Fri Sep 12 17:14:54 BST 2008

Hi Everybody-

I'm Jaye, and finally delurking after a year because I really had to respond
to something.  Brief bio: I'm located on the east coast of the US, in
Maryland, and am currently what amounts to a professional student in
engineering.  Just had a baby last month, and when I returned to my email
accounts, decided to catch up with the Bujold list by deleting everything
and starting with the current conversations.  Thus I am finally reading in
real-time, rather than 3 weeks or more behind.

So the item that caught my eye was from Alan:

> This is where I think I give Aral the nod for his superior knowledge
> of his own culture over Cordelia.  He had to think about the consequences 
> and precedent of his decision within the context of Barryaran culture and
> history.  Dueling killed a lot of Vor but rarely ever settled who was 
> right or wrong only who was the better duelist.  Those two young men had 
> acted drunkenly and stupidly and as often happens a tragedy occurred.

> What Aral had to decide isn't so very different than what we have to 
> deal with today with drunk driving.  The boy got drunk, decided to drive
> home, then killed someone in the process because he was too drunk to
> It was a completely unintentional accident so should his life be destroyed

> by sending him to prison and forever burdening him with a felony 
> conviction?  What do you tell the relatives of the deceased if you let him
> off easy?

I don't see much of a conflict here, either in context of Barrayar or modern
culture.  The phrase that gets me is "unintentional accident."  It might be
that duelling Vor-lings don't intend to kill each other, and it might be
that drunk drivers don't intend to kill other people.  But whether the
activity is duelling or drunk driving, the frequently deadly consequences
have been well-demonstrated.  In the case of drunk driving, you can not live
in the US (or Australia and Europe from what I've been told) without being
bombarded with information.  By the time you are old enough to drink and
drive, you know perfectly well why you should not.  When you do so anyway,
you might not set out to kill anyone, but it is hard to argue that you are
not putting your own convenience (for a trivial, transient pleasure, at
that) before the safety of every other driver on the road.  So you might not
intend to kill someone, but if you do, it isn't an unexpected event,
something you could not have foreseen.  You knew, you just didn't think the
possibility of harm to someone else was as important as your desire to drive
somewhere after you had been drinking.  

This kind of behavior, the callous disregard for other people so that you
can indulge yourself, is very much worth the burden of a felony conviction
at the least.  I totally understood Aral's decision about the duellists, and
frequently wish that Maryland was more willing to bring down the hammer on
drunk drivers who kill and maim so recklessly.  In fact, I have more
sympathy for duellists: at least they can claim to have killed for some fine
abstract concept like honor.  Drunk drivers have no such shield.  It's true
that it seems a further waste to punish the penitent, but we in society
can't allow such behaviors to creep back into the main stream, which they
might if we failed to impose harsh penalties.

Whew.  I had more to say on that than I thought.


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