#72 – Strict Liability

There’s a principle in law called “strict liability.”  In layman’s terms it means that sometimes, when shit happens and you’re at the center of it you get blamed, even if it’s not your fault.  The theory can apply outside of court too, at a baby shower for instance. 

This afternoon Sophia and I attended a baby shower thrown by Donna Daniels, a friend of Sophia’s from church.  When we arrived, Donna’s husband Steve led us past a fenced enclosure housing the largest Rottweiler I’ve ever seen.  My wife, who’s obviously watched one too many episodes of the “Dog Whisperer,” asked whether the dog – one “Rufus” – was friendly, and if so whether she could pet him. Since the answers to both questions were “yes,” Sophia let herself into Rufus’ pen while Steve escorted me to the party proper. 

I don’t consider Sophia to blame for any of the subsequent events.  Inasmuch as Rufus outweighs her by a solid forty pounds, I can’t see how she could’ve prevented him from knocking her to the ground in his excitement at receiving a visitor.  And once she’d been unceremoniously dumped in the dirt, I certainly understand how an inadvertent profanity or two would’ve escaped her lips.  I can also appreciate the preoccupation that necessarily gripped her in those moments and kept her unaware of her surroundings. Frankly, I thought all her explanations (offered in the aftermath of the debacle) seemed believable and well-reasoned. 

But we’re talking strict liability here. Upon arriving at the shower, the church’s director of liturgy, along with his wife and five-year old son, caught the unexpected sight of Sophia on her hands and knees … mounted from behind by a slobbering canine busily thrusting against her khakis.  Adding to their “surprise,” the family overheard my wife spiritedly yelling at the animal to: “Get the fuck off me, you crazy cocksucker!” In that scenario, not even the best of explanations would do.

Rufus’ Twin Brother



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