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Blog: The Blame Game

(originally written 1/30/12)

This game is not a game you can find at Toys R Us, or here online. The games featured there are fun, by most accounts.

The Blame Game does not come in a box, or a can. It is not on the back page of a newspaper, it is not a segment on The Price is Right.


It isn't really a game at all, so do forgive me if you were planning to buy it for your kids. Or yourself.

This blog targets the recent CalTrain suicides along the Peninsula.


For those of you who do not live in the Bay Area or who have been gone so long they may have forgotten what it's like, the Peninsula is the stretch of cities along the lower portion of the SF Bay, covering San Jose up to San Francisco. About 70 miles or so in my estimation.

CalTrain, which is basically BART without the murderous cops, covers the entire stretch. And well, I might add. (Note: Without CalTrain, I wouldn't have attended ANY Giants games the last couple of years because driving to AT&T Park is JUST...TOO...PAINFUL. And, as for parking, let's just say it would probably cost less to adopt and house a kangaroo than to park at AT&T)


Sadly, over the course of the last three years, almost 40 people have died on CalTrain's tracks, and at least two others have been near misses. Most of the dead and each of the near misses have been people intending to die by train.


Yet, according to the carping of a small but vocal minority, CalTrain could have done more to prevent these tragedies.


Like what, levitate?


Listen, if you die on a train track by ACCIDENT, you deserve it. A railroad track is for trains. Not trains and people. There is a reason why there are no sidewalks on railroads. If you do not know you belong OFF the tracks, or if you are on the tracks and DO NOT PAY ATTENTION for oncoming trains, excuse my bluntness, but you deserve to die. Because people devoid of that basic intelligence do society no favors by existing. There are plenty of useful people whose minds could be absorbing the oxygen those idiots are wasting. I have never once even entertained the thought of walking on an active train track. Trains have nowhere else to go but on tracks.


People do. So if you choose to dilly-dally on the DESIGNATED SPACE for a group of steel cars weighing hundreds of tons traveling at 70 MPH...sorry, but you weren't going to make it far in life anyway. Clearly.


Accordingly, while I am sympathetic to those who are in such emotional pain SO DEEP that the only way they feel they can escape is by taking their own life—I truly am—that does not necessarily mean it is anyone's direct fault.

CalTrain has already emptied a Brinks' truck or two on the suicide issue with fencing, signs, and suicide prevention number postings along its' entire length. Aside from that, I don't know what else a reasonable person can expect from them. Are their employees supposed to knock on neighborhood doors conducting happiness checks?


It just seems to me that whenever someone loses their life unnaturally, accidental or not, the first reaction by the public—namely public officials desperate to have their face on camera and names circulating in the papers—is to point fingers and play "The Blame Game". It's seldom the sole responsibility of the "victim"—even when it is! JFK Jr's death is an example. An almost 40-year old man flies an airplane he KNEW he wasn't yet qualified to fly, crashes it, and it's his instructor's fault (according to the media in the days after). 

Three young adults taunt and provoke a tiger into mauling them in the San Francisco Zoo. It's not only the zoo's fault, but also the tiger's??? As Katt Williams so famously said, the tigers were doing what tigers do. They were no more wrong for that than a spider is for trapping a fly in its' web!

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock knocks down way too many after a game, gets behind the wheel, and crashes into a parked tow truck—dying in the process. But his family sues the bartender, the tow truck driver, and—I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP—the driver of the stalled car that the tow truck came to assist!!!


Not that I’m here to talk about the past.


There is always SOMEBODY TO BLAME. Even when there is NOBODY TO BLAME but the victim.

Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, after one of the 2010 deaths: "We've heard about what they're already doing (to prevent suicides). But what they're doing is not enough."


Apparently, CalTrain is supposed to be responsible for the emotional health of people who don't even ride it.
I will reiterate that these deaths are tragic—especially the handful of teens who used the train to kill themselves in Palo Alto. My point is: blaming CalTrain for a suicide is the equivalent of blaming the divorce attorney for your spouse leaving you.
There were a lot of factors that made your spouse want out. He/he just used the attorney to make it happen.


If CalTrain tunneled its' entire railroad, like certain portentous "leaders" of local communities are lobbying them to do, maybe no one else kills themselves on the tracks. Instead they will just turn to guns and pills—bringing them inside their homes/schools where others could get hurt as well. 


There are those people who, no matter what anyone does or says, are in so much pain that they won't let anything stop them from killing themselves. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to stop them unless you killed them first, like those misguided federal agents on South Park. 


The best way to prevent suicide is to love the people in your life and monitor them closely—especially if they are going through troubling times. 


That is up to parents, relatives, friends, doctors, teachers, pastors and coaches.
Not CalTrain or any other private businesses.
So don't blame them.

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