Friday, Febuary 1, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 84



Individuals decide their own actions

John Moon

Have any of you ever seen those "Truth" commercials that promote anti-smoking by bashing the tobacco companies? I love the one
where the "Truth Agents" stack fake body bags outside a tobacco company's headquarters. The viewer sees the evil tobacco executive looking down at the thousands of body bags his product fills. It plays on the emotions of just about everybody who sees the body bags and knows someone who smokes.

It plays on reasons by amazing the viewer with statistics about people killed by smoking-related diseases. What it doesn't play on is a
sense of individual responsibility for one's actions.

These ads show the evil of the big tobacco companies. They show corporate executives who know for a that their product causes
cancer, birth defects, emphysema and a myriad of other health problems. What none of these ads say is that when someone takes a
first drag, there is not a tobacco executive holding a gun to the smoker's head. Oftentimes, smokers actually make the decision to
smoke on their own. This is just one example of our culture of excuses.

The current trend is to take a mistake we have made and then flip it around on someone else. It puts up a smokescreen, so the issues
become confused. This involves emotional appeals like body bags piled around a tobacco corporation.

This culture of excuses even goes into the courtroom of America. In some rape cases the defense will say that the woman who was
raped dressed too provocatively, basically implying that she had it coming, that the rape was her fault. They imply, "You can't blame a
guy for getting turned on, can you?"

When the Columbine massacre occurred, the question that followed the initial shock was "What kind of music did these kids listen to?"
Marilyn Manson turned out to be the answer to that question, so the deaths of 13 people became his fault.

Then the lawsuits started rolling through the courtrooms. What has not been brought up is the fact that these obviously sick children
were in their garages for sometimes 10 hours per day building bombs and sawing down shotguns. If my brother were in the garage for
10 hours I'd probably inquire about what he was doing. So my question is, where were the parents?

It's so easy just to flip things around. Most people are probably focusing on what lousy parents Mr. and Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Klebold
were, completely missing who's really to blame ­ the ones who pulled the trigger.

Individuality means an individual chooses what he or she does. I am not part of a group collective. I am not a drone. I am one person,
who makes his own decisions and answers to them accordingly.

I don't hurt someone and then say, "The (insert scapegoat) made me do it." I throw the punch. I say the words. I write the column. I am
responsible for whatever outcomes my actions may bring.

Moon, a sophomore communication
major, can be reached at

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