Thursday, March 17, 2005

Do Not Cry for Rachel.

ASSUMPTION OF RISKS - AVALANCHES, ALPINE TERRAIN, WILDERNESS TRAVEL, WEATHER ETC. I am aware that wilderness skiing involves risks, dangers and hazards in addition to those normally associated with downhill skiing. Avalanches occur frequently in the alpine terrain used for wilderness skiing and may be caused by natural forces or by skiers. I acknowledge and accept that the Operators and their staff may fail to predict whether the alpine terrain is safe for skiing or whether an avalanche may occur. The alpine terrain used for wilderness skiing is uncontrolled, unmarked, not inspected and involves many risks, dangers and hazards in addition to that of avalanche. These may include, but are not limited to: ice and snow cornices; trees, tree wells and tree stumps; creeks; rocks; boulders; forest deadfall; holes and depressions on or below the snow surface; cliffs; variable and difficult snow conditions; crevasses; snowcat roads and road banks, fences, and other man-made structures; impact or collision with other skiers; the failure to ski safely or within one's own ability or within designated areas; negligence of other skiers; and NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE OPERATORS OR THEIR GUIDES AND EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING THE FAILURE OF THE OPERATORS OR THEIR GUIDES AND EMPLOYEES TO SAFEGUARD OR PROTECT ME FROM THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS OF WILDERNESS SKIING. Skiers may become lost or separated from their skiing party or guide. Communication in the alpine terrain is difficult and in the event of an accident, rescue and medical treatment may not be available. Alpine weather conditions may be extreme and can change rapidly and without warning, making travel by helicopter or snowcat hazardous.

Now you may assume Rachel Corrie is a skier. Wrong. Rachel Corrie was a young American woman who went to Israel to serve as a human shield and was killed when a bulldozer smashed into her. The operator claims he did not see her and the Israeli Defense Force ruled the death an accident. Her parents are now suing Israel and wait for it. . . Caterpillar for her death. You say okay, but what the heck does the opening paragraph have anything to do with an accidental death in Israel?

The above paragraph comes from a disclaimer people have to sign before they go on a guided backcountry skiing expedition. Even routine on-piste skiing comes with the implicit acknowledgement of the fact that skiing is a sport that can endanger life and limb that skiing can be hazardous. Why does anyone think the situation Rachel Corrie put herself into is any less dangerous than extreme skiing? She knew what was going on where she was and she chose to accept those risks and unfortunately (I detest what she stood for but her death was definitely a bad thing) she was killed.

According to Bryan Smith over at Sanity in Mad City the Capital Times editorializes that a Google search of Rachel Corrie turns up some people who do not have a very high opinion of her. And yet, while searching the Internet for information about Rachel, I was stunned at the cruel campaign of vilification and blaming-the-victim that abounds there. The idiocy in this statement is staggering. Rachel Corrie put herself in front of a bulldozer intent on destroying a home (searching for weapons smuggling tunnels) in what is essentially a war zone where the combatants walk around in civilian garb. I do blame the victim in this case, after all dangerous situations are . . . dangerous!

The Capital Times astonishment of the Rachel's vilification is nothing more than an act. Would they be astonished to find all the hate sites targeting President Bush? No, some of the Capital Times' writers probably run a couple of those sites.

Don't cry for Rachel Corrie she knew what could happen to her in that situation.