“The word ‘accident’ is to be banned from the new edition of Britain’s Highway Code, which is published by the UK Department of Transport. Instead the words ‘collision’, ‘crash’ or ‘incident’ will be used to describe events that once were known as accidents.
This adoption of new terms for everyday events does not only have linguistic significance. The banning of the A-word is a consequence of a broader cultural outlook which insists that nothing happens accidentally these days and that there is always someone to blame.”
It’s funny how our sense of morality and perception of reality careen around crazily in contemporary culture. On the one hand, we’re as confessional and self-blaming as sinners in a tent revival meeting (witness various politicians and celebrities tearfully decrying their follies and vices). On the other, we’re madly looking for someone to blame (the spectacle of frivolous American litigation comes to mind). Unmoored from the restraints and responsibility demanded by the religious orientation we used to have, yet unable to come up with a coherent alternative, it’s as if we’ve collectively imbibed a psychedelic drug that results in strange but earnest beliefs and all sorts of public policy wackiness. In the piece we link to, British sociologist Frank Furedi muses on the strange thinking behind recent changes to the Traffic Code and what they say about our times.



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