Is bad judgment becoming commonplace — or is there still hope? An honest father in Minnesota may provide the answer
From war and civil unrest to global recession and record-setting natural disasters, it’s increasingly fashionable to predict that Judgment Day will soon be upon us.
Wrong tense. It’s here, and always has been. It’s called decision-making in everyday life.
But for whatever reason, good judgment and common sense now seem to be the exception. The good news is that this provides endless fodder for columnists.
Here are just a few examples from this week that are representative of where we are going as a society (and no, there won’t be any mention of Congress, presidential candidates or government at any level, since their daily bad judgment could fill volumes, and is, unfortunately, an accepted — and expected — part of American life).
But hope is not lost, for as the Texas (Rangers’) star falls, the sun is shining in Minnesota.
Texas Rangers Strikeout
Last month, Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone attempted to catch a ball thrown into the stands. Tragically, he leaned too far over a railing, lost his balance, and plunged to his death. According to the Rangers, the railings exceeded the required height (the same level as Stone’s waist), and there appears to be no negligence that contributed to the man’s demise — except his own.
Stone, who by all accounts was an upstanding citizen, had a serious lapse of judgment. Sure it’s exciting to catch a Major League ball, but it’s just a baseball. So because of that mistake, innocent as it was, he leaves behind his wife and small son.
(And one other point here: most media reports repeatedly refer to the fan as “firefighter” Stone, which is totally irrelevant. He fell as a fan, not a firefighter in the line of duty. Damn near all other professions would not “merit” being mentioned, nor should they. That misnomer only serves to obscure the real lesson).
But in an even worse display of judgment, the Rangers decided to memorialize Stone by placing a life-size bronze statue of him and his son at the home plate entrance to the ballpark.
Why would they do such an incredibly idiotic thing, one which only serves to sanction a wholly avoidable mistake and reward bad judgment?
Rangers President Nolan Ryan explained: “We feel that this statue will be a most fitting tribute… It will not only serve to honor Mr. Stone’s memory, but also to recognize Rangers fans and baseball fans everywhere.”
Ryan should stick to pitching, because that may just be the dumbest rationale possible.
So the best idea to honor fans is a statue of someone whose bad judgment caused his death? With that precedent, what’s next? A suicidal baseball fan who jumps off the upper deck in order to get an even bigger memorial?
With that kind of minor-league thinking, no wonder the franchise went bankrupt.
Too Busy To Help
As the motorcycle rider was traveling on Interstate 476, the car in front was exiting the highway. But upon seeing the exit ramp clogged with traffic, the motorist crossed over a median to re-enter the highway — without looking. The maneuver was both illegal and dangerous.
Not seeing, or caring, that the motorcyclist was in the lane, the motorist cut him off, forcing a crash. So powerful was the accident that the bike traveled at least 200 more feet — minus the driver, who lay in shock, bleeding profusely on the highway — before slamming into a concrete barrier.
The motorist never stopped.
Even worse, at least three drivers who witnessed the accident slowed down, almost to a stop, gawked at the motionless motorcyclist, and continued on their way. Guess the barbeque or ball game was a lot more important than potentially saving a person’s life.
And as far as “not wanting to get involved,” that’s rubbish because Pennsylvania has a Good Samaritan law that protects passers-by from liability lawsuits. Unequivocally, there was no excuse not to help, and simply calling 9-1-1 doesn’t cut it. We’re not talking about a fender-bender, but a life in jeopardy.
To the elderly couple that did stop, stabilizing the victim and placing themselves in harm’s way by entering the highway and directing traffic, a tip of the hat.
You know the saying about those folks being the Greatest Generation? Nothing could be truer. Thank you for your service— again.
Minnesota “Twins” — and the truth — win
But just when you think the world’s gone completely mad, with Truth, Justice and the American Way out the window, a story emerges that rekindles faith in humankind.
Seriously. That’s not hyperbole. What just occurred in Minnesota is nothing short of remarkable, and as far as I’m concerned, America has a new hero.
Pat Smith is the father of twin 11 year old boys, Nate and Nick. They bought three raffle tickets for the chance at $50,000 — but to win, the contestants had to shoot a hockey puck through a 1 ½ inch by 3 ½ slot from 89 feet away. Never going to happen, right?
Except it did.
Here’s the catch. Nate’s arm had been in a cast, so he told his father to write Nick’s name on the ticket. But Nick, figuring he’d never win the raffle (let alone the contest), wasn’t at the hockey rink for the contest.
Nick’s name was called, though, and Nate, who had just gotten out of the cast, made the winning shot. As identical twins, who would ever know that Nate was the actual shooter even though it was Nick’s name that was called?
No one. And the Smith family would be $50,000 richer, which, in this economy, goes a long, long way.
What transpired just didn’t sit well with Pat Smith, though, and he informed officials that Nick hadn’t taken the shot. In other words, he told the truth, full-well knowing that the prize money would likely evaporate.
How many of us would do that? Undoubtedly, we’d like to think that we would. But when placed in that situation, with bird-in-hand ($50,000, to be precise), and a clean “getaway” virtually assured, reality is such that the number would be small.
Smith took the high road — and the correct one. He believed his good judgment would teach his family the meaning of right and wrong, and that honesty truly was the best policy.
“You’ve got to do what’s right,” he said, adding, “You don’t want to teach kids to lie no matter how much money is involved…we wanted to set a good example for the kids.”
The American dream, unique in the world, is founded upon honesty, trustworthiness and that which is under constant attack — morality.
Mr. Smith, not only did you succeed with your kids, but you set an example for the entire nation. And you can’t buy that — not with $50,000, nor with 50 million.
It is a priceless lesson, and one for the true record books.
And to think — all it took was good judgment.
An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”
Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
September 2, 2011 at 9:47 am Comment (1)