January 17, 2012

Annals of Childish Behavior™

In a post a few days ago, I quoted José Ortega y Gasset's observation that modern culture had been possessed by "childishness," a condition in which individuals and nations behave like spoiled children who believe they are entitled to everything and obligated to no one. I noted then that this sort of behavior also extended to corporate executives who "skirt safety standards for the sake of profit."

The following is from a January 17 report in the New York Times on the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy:
Cruise passengers are supposed to attend a safety briefing within 24 hours of boarding.

“We have never had any drills,” [passenger Emily] Lau said. “We were asked to go for a safety meeting, and it was nothing but a sales pitch for excursions.”
 A later report from the Times added that the accident had been caused when the Costa Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, tried to show off the $450 million vessel to residents of the island of Giglio, where he struck a reef. The captain then abandoned ship before all its passengers had been evacuated, apparently unaware that fatalities had occurred.

Captain Schettino subsequently explained that his early exit from the foundering liner was due to an accident: he'd slipped on deck and fallen into the water. Transcripts from a telephone conversation between Schettino, floating in a lifeboat, and a coast guard commander revealed that the captain refused to return to the Costa Concordia as the evacuation continued because, he said, it was too dark to see anything. To that the irate coast guard commander replied, “Do you want to go home, Schettino? It’s dark and you want to go home?" An Italian newspaper columnist characterized the captain's explanation as "the cry of a child." 

Photo credit: The Daily Mirror

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