Here’s a very sad story. Several American college students went to Haiti on a mission just before the earthquake struck. The students were staying at the Hotel Montana, which pancaked during the earthquake. The students (or their remains) have not yet been located. One of the fathers of the missing students was quoted recently as stating, “[w]e know our daughter was there and we want them [presumably, the U.S. military] to find her!,” as he pounded the table.
‘Puter sympathizes with the grieving parent. How horrible it must be to (probably) have lost one’s daughter in a disaster. But this parent’s reaction is rationally unacceptable.
Look, your daughter chose to go to the poorest country in this hemisphere. The CIA Factbook puts it thus:
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country’s widespread deforestation.
‘Puter adds unhelpfully that if there were fourth-world countries, Haiti would be one. Further, Haiti is one of the most politically unstable governments in the world. Again, the CIA Factbook states:
Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.
So you and your daughter decided it was a good idea to pack her off to an absolute hellhole of a country. ‘Puter doesn’t particularly care for what purpose you determined it was a good idea to go (help the poor, work at an orphanage, etc.). It is apparent to all sentient beings that Haiti is a desperate, dangerous place. Going to Haiti in the best of times entails very real risks to life and limb. You can choose to go, but you accept personal responsibility for the dangers associated with the trip. Now that a danger has occurred, you can’t back away from your responsibility for your poor choice. The fact that the tragedy that happened is not the one that is immediately apparent does not absolve you from the consequences of your bad decision.
Perhaps more galling is the father’s ill-conceived notion that the United States military and any other rescue organization should drop what they’re doing and look for your his daughter first. How arrogant. What about the tens of thousands of suffering Haitians they’ll have to travel by to get to the Hotel Montana? Do they somehow deserve less consideration than your daughter? Heck, they’re still alive and needy, whereas chances are that your daughter is dead. Are the American taxpayers required to foot the bill for an operation designed exclusively to rescue your daughter (or free her corpse) from the foreseeable consequences of her poor choice?
‘Puter’s chalking this father’s quote up to his indescribable grief at (likely) losing a daughter. But it’s important to point out the problems with his logic so that, hopefully, others may avoid his daughter’s fate.
[UPDATE: On rereading this post, ‘Puter realized it may seem as if he were kicking the father while he was down. That’s not ‘Puter’s intent. ‘Puter intended to point out the irrationality of voluntarily entering into a dangerous situation, then (1) complaining about a negative outcome and (2) expecting others to bail you out. ‘Puter decided to leave the post up, unedited, but to add this disclaimer to (hopefully) make his intent clearer.]