The Mess

I don’t usually watch the news, but last night my husband had it on while I was cooking supper. I overheard a story about a woman who had met a man through the website She followed the “internet safety” rules and met him in a public place. She says that he followed her home after their second date and raped her. Now she’s suing to make them screen their members.

I’m not in any way discounting the tragedy or trauma of her experience, but her response of immediately blaming someone else really bothers me. Oh, did I mention that “After the alleged assault, the woman went online and found that the suspect had been convicted of several counts of sexual battery”? Why didn’t she take a few minutes to do this BEFORE the first date? is a dating site, not a background check service. There are any number of those out there. And sexual offenders are listed online, even without paying for a background check.

Trying to cross-check their database against each state’s sexual offender database would be a horrendous task, however. You’ve got to consider possible duplicate names, wrong addresses, and the fact that according to this October 2010 article, as many as 100,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. are AWOL. They either give false addresses, claim to be homeless or don’t update their whereabouts at all. The only realistic option is for each woman to check her state’s database herself (and Googling someone isn’t a bad idea, either) before meeting a stranger for a date.

I am NOT saying the victim deserved to be attacked or that she is to blame. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. The alleged rapist is the only one at fault here, not the victim, and not the website. I am saying that we need to stop pointing the finger when things go wrong and step up and take some personal responsibility for our decisions.  Why is a lawsuit the first reaction to everything that goes wrong? This is just the latest example. Have you ever read the instructions for your hair dryer? The first thing on the list is “Do not use in water.” Really? Seems like a no-brainer, but companies have to treat us all like idiots because one idiot *did* use the hair dryer near or in water (a bad idea for more than one reason, obvious to everyone except the one person who did it) and sued the manufacturer. Here are two lists of examples of frivolous, finger-pointing lawsuits, one at Huffington Post and the other on a personal injury site.

Let’s try taking responsibility for our own choices and quit blaming others for our own bad decisions.