Lawmakers blame philosophy for recent spate of trolley deaths
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned their attention to philosophy this week after Monday saw what appears to be the nation’s third trolley-related homicide since April. Members of both houses of Congress raised the prospect of legislation to regulate the violent content found in much contemporary moral philosophy, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill to study the effects of violent philosophy on children and adolescents.
The proposal comes in the wake of the death of Amtrak employee Charles Shubin, who was killed Monday when a runaway trolley was diverted onto the side-spur to which Shubin had been tied by unknown individuals. Two trolleys involved in similar incidents in April turned out to have had their brake lines cut.
The latest activity from lawmakers comes just two weeks after a Senate bill introducing new trolley safety regulations died in committee. The bill encountered stiff opposition from industry lobby groups such as the National Railroad Association. “Trolleys don’t kill people,” said NRA spokesman Lane Stone, “moral philosophers kill people.” Speaking at a press conference last month, Stone continued: “If violent individuals didn’t have access to trolleys, they’d just do the same thing with light rail, streetcars, or even aerial trams.”
Lawmakers this week singled out Call of Duty for particular criticism. “Call of Duty is a non-stop parade of violence,” said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), taking aim at John Price’s recent study of deontological ethics. “Torture, murder, infanticide; involuntary euthanasia and unwitting organ transplants; intricate, morbid scenarios that ask the reader if he could do this or that to save his own life – it’s like one of those Saw movies but without the R rating.”
The legislation proposed by Sen. Alexander calls for $2 million over five years to allow the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the relationship between the consumption of violent philosophy and violent behavior. It is unclear whether the bill will garner the 60 votes needed to pass in the chamber.
[Inspiration for the headline came from here.]