…is it the action or the result?

Every day thousands if not millions of us will drive around blatently breaking the law by driving too fast, or not paying enough attention, or are over the drink-drive limit or whatever, yet nothing happens on those journeys so we in effect get away with it.

Does that mean what we are doing isn’t bad?

Every night on the news we hear of people who have done something similar to the above scenarios, but who weren’t so lucky and something bad has resulted from their actions - in the case of driving a car too fast it usually ends up with an accident of one sort or another in which someone (often not even the guilty driver) is injured or even killed.

Obviously the outcome here is much worse, but does that then make the initial action of driving too fast a worse crime than that committed by someone who drives at the same speed but doesn’t have an accident?

It shouldn’t really make any difference what the outcome is if the action is the same, yet our society seems to place a great importance on what the end result is whether we intend to or not and I’m not sure that is right.

Take the speeder in our example above.  If he is caught by the police driving along a road at 100mph, then they will likely stop him and either offer him the chance to accept an on the spot punishment or give him the option of going to court.  If he goes to court then it would be up to someone else to determine his punishment after hearing his case.

This would most likely result in some sort of fine coupled with either penalty points on his licence or a driving ban for a period of time.

Now imagine he had driven past the police and before they could get out to stop him, another car pulled out in front of him which he hit and the other driver was killed in the collision.

That would obviously result in a court case at which the driver could expect to receive a lengthy jail sentence as his actions resulted in the death of another man.

But his actions were exactly the same in both cases - he was simply driving too fast to avoid the car in the second scenario, the same as he was in the first - so is it fair that he is punished differently in each case?

The natural reaction is that of course he should receive a more severe punishment having killed a man, but is it not fairer to punish people for the actions they take?  The action the man took was to drive too fast, not to kill the other driver.

Of course things will not change, and the punishments will continue to be different for each crime - and perhaps that’s right enough, this was just something that came into my head recently.

In fact it came about after watching the Arsenal game at the weekend where their player Eduardo suffered a simply horrific injury following a clumsy tackle from a Birmingham player.

The tackle has prompted a huge outrage apparently, but had it not resulted in the severe injury for Eduardo, I doubt very much that their would have been much comment on it.

We see bad tackles every week in the game and nine times out of ten the player who is fouled walks away unhurt, but with the player suffering a career-threatening injury this time suddenly the tackle has been viewed in a different light.

As with the driving scenario outlined above, the tackle would be the same no matter whether the player was injured or not, but it was the outcome which seems to be determining how the action is viewed.

Hopefully in this case with the passage of time, everyone will calm down and see a bit of commonsense.