Sunday, September 11, 2005

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Who uses it: Lawyers
What it means: Latin, "The thing speaks for itself." The common law of torts uses this phrase to describe accidents that were obviously the result of negligence, although it's not necessarily clear whose negligence.
How to use it: When you don't need to explain something. My friend Jen gave me this example: "I come in the living room. Grace (her four-year-old) is the only person in the living room and a picture is knocked over. Even though I don’t know exactly how it happened, it clearly happened. Res ipsa loquitur."

Negligence in preparations for and responses to Katrina? Res ipsa loquitur. The line for resignations should be forming on the right, starting at ground level and reaching high, high up into Washington -- but later, not now. Right now, everybody just needs to keep working at this, until the families are reunited, the bodies are recovered, and the toxic waste is removed from the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

I don't dare turn the Sunday morning TV shows on, because I'll put a shoe through the screen, and I'm a guest here. I have a hard-earned reputation for being a good houseguest, and Michael Chernoff is not going to wreck that for me.

One thing that has been really great is seeing the families of the 9/11 victims and survivors rallying to the needs of Katrina's victims. It's a precarious universe, and everything can change, through no fault of our own, in the space of a minute or an hour or a day. If I thought too much about that, I wouldn't be able to leave my apartment.

1 comment:

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

I've been using this phrase quite often since the Red Sox won the World Series. For a lifetime the only succor I've enjoyed concerning the Yankees has been spite, scorn, and bitter phrases about how they, well, suck (despite the evidence of World Championships to the contrary.) So now that my team has taken it all, I've felt no impulse whatsoever, at any time, to lord this over Yankees fans. Even at Fenway Park, the degree of anti-Yankee chanting has ebbed considerably. That's because the phrase that truly comes to mind whenever I think about the Sox winning it all, especially concerning any conceivable argument from the hated rivals, is:

res ipsa loquitur

What I can't understand though, is why the other Fenway bleacher fans don't join me in the chant when I shout it out at Yankee games in place of Yankees Suck.....