On the weekend I wrote a post making light of the Toronto Star's use of the word "tragedy" when the paper reported on the death of three people in a car accident in Muskoka. Included in the post was a joke about the accident getting more attention had there been a pet dog who died in the crash. After I posted, some anonymous coward left a comment that convinced me (much too easily) that keeping the post live wasn't worth my time. I deleted it.
Today the Star published another story reporting that the three people who died in the crash had disobeyed traffic laws in the past and the driver "was in danger of losing his license." Interesting that this was the Star's first story on the accident where the word "tragedy" was absent. Perhaps the reporters have finally decided to use some restraint when reporting; it's not their job to editorialize and use of the word "tragedy" is an expression of opinion.
For the families of the dead and the survivor, an accident like this is horrible but hardly a tragedy, which is something unforeseen. A pattern of broken traffic laws? Drinking before driving? Close to losing a license? This accident sounds more like an inevitability.
Before the Star slapped together the "Muskoka tragedy" headline, the last use I saw of the word "tragedy" in the paper referred to the Greek national team being eliminated from the Euro 2008 tournament. That headline also ran on the front page. How the death of three people can be equated with a soccer team being eliminated from a tournament I can't say: that's a question for the Star's loose editors.
I stand by my original assertion that the accident in Muskoka wasn't a tragedy. It's a horrible event, but bad decisions rarely end in a good consequences.