Our moral sense should keep us from deadly behaviour

Letter to the Editor
Vancouver Sun Forum

Monday 13 September 1999

Justice went astry when Julia Campagna walked out of court a free woman even through her speeding car crashed into a parked vehicle and killed the two teenage occupants: Kimberly Brooks and Monique Ishikawa (Judge frees U.S. woman over fatal border crash, Sept. 3).

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Thimersingh M. Singh reasoned speciously when he ruled that Ms. Campagna was mentally unstable because she suffered from delusional symptoms caused by the drug Xenadrine, whe was taking to lose weight for a marathon.

What renders us responsible moral agents is the fact that we have not only a conscience and a moral sense (the capacity to distinguish right from wrong) but also control over our behaviour with respect to moral decisions and their long-term outcomes.

Ms. Campagna, of Kirkland, Wash., was irresponsible and, therefore, criminally culpable because she failed to exercise sound judgment by wilfully disregarding the warning on the diet-drug label not to drive while under the influenceof the drug.

Ms. Campagna knew that she was having hallucinations and that driving a car under such circumstances could put innocent people at risk. She had a choice and should have been responsible for her actions.

Being drunk, stoned or delusional is not a justified excuse for criminal negligence, but rather a cop-out.

Sympathy goes not to Ms. Campagna but to the parents of the two teenagers who were killed at the Peace Arch border crossing on May 30, 1998. Contempt goes to our bleeding-heart lawmakers who confound sympathy with responsibility.