By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – According to a blog item in yesterday’s New York Times, 16 people have died so far this year in Yosemite National Park, close to three times more than the average.

Three of those deaths, notes the Times, came “when hikers went around a guardrail with a warning sign and waded into water that swiftly carried them over a cliff.”

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

“Many of these people aren’t used to nature, and they don’t fully understand it” a Yosemite park ranger tells the paper.

She says she regularly sees people hiking barefoot on slick trails along a thundering waterfall, and visitors regularly ignore signs that explicitly warn of potentially fatal danger.

Concludes the Times blogger: “The more rangers try to bring the nanny state to public lands, the more careless, and dependent, people become. If people expect a grizzly bear to be benign, or think a glacier is just another variant of a theme park slide, it’s not the fault of the government when something goes fatally wrong.”

I couldn’t agree more.

But don’t try to tell that to the lawyer who is suing Yosemite for millions on behalf of the family of a man who ignored warnings not to get too close to mountain goats in the park and was fatally wounded by one of them.

Here, we see the appalling convergence of two troubling trends in our culture – stupidity, manifest in the actions of hikers who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t bother to learn before taking risks that ignore extensive warnings; and entitlement, a state of mind in which these fools expect to be taken care of by others and are surprised and litigious when it turns out they needed to take care of themselves.

You can spot those unfortunate trends at the heart of many of our current problems – budgetary, political, social, cultural.

People want what they want but don’t want any responsibility for the consequences of grabbing it.

God gave us brains.

Why are so many of us so reluctant to use them?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (28)
  1. Justin says:

    Couldn’t say it better myself Jon!

  2. foamy says:

    EXCELLENT column Jon! You hit the nail on the head about both the entitlement culture that has become pervasive in society AND the rotten money-hungry lawyers that would seek to suck money out of a bankrupt government to pacify a family who lost someone because of sheer stupidity. I can’t wait to check back later to see if anyone actually disagrees with you. They just might be the next one mauled by a goat.

  3. KathyD says:

    Nicely said, Jon. Entitlement, stupidity, too many lawyers and not enough “real” cases, and also a victim mentality that has swept this nation. You have to wonder how far this will go before or if it ends.

  4. Paul says:

    This is where….if we change the system to make the losing lawyers pay for the winning lawyers’ legal fees and costs….these types of lawsuits would end immediately.
    Most, if not all, of these lawyers take the cases on a contingentcy basis and hope for a settlement that the other side pays instead of a long protracted law suit. Basically they shake the tree and see what falls out. They are also the first ones paid from any award and/or settlement.

  5. Willow says:

    What can we expect when a woman who places her “hot” cup of coffee between her legs while driving, gets burned, sues, and wins the lawsuit. We have to many judges awarding stupidity. Until that ends, we will continue to hear of these kind of ridiculous lawsuits. Sadly, this family will probably win their case. People do this sort of thing because they know they can win, and live quite nicely for the rest of their lives.

    1. cc says:

      to be fair coffee should not be so hot it takes off layers of your skin, and mcdonalds should pay your hospital bills if that is the case. just sayin.

  6. brat says:

    This no different than the nit wits who go hiking in the mountains in January with nothing more than a windbreaker and a cell phone. Many states are charging huge recovery fees when they have to put people at risk to rescue these nitwits.

  7. justsayin' says:

    With respect to this article: Yosemite National Park needs more mountain goats.

  8. Maureen McCabe Haughey says:

    John Pinette hit the nail on the head:

  9. emom says:

    JON , This is so true on so many levels… I had submitted something similar on this topic about a year ago , on frivolous lawsuits,,,, MAYBE NOW SOMEONE WILL LISTEN. Hhhmmmmm. Any way’s I see this very thing every where I go,, I mean how much does the government, or a business need spell out dangers to the public. I mean,,, You go to the zoo, signs every where states DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS, DO NOT CLIMB THE FENCE, DO NOT GO PAST THE FENCE, DO NOT TAUNT THE ANIMALS, but every year some Whacko does just that and then sues them.. Yeah brilliant aren’t they,, How about taking for granted that something is unsafe, with out even taking a second thought to their own safety,, I mean, knowing if something is safe before venturing to do it,, NOPE once again , clueless, People using a product in ways it was not intended to and thus well you guessed it STUPIDITY RAINS AGAIN,, Have you looked at the instruction books that come with your items that you purchase, they are starting to look like mini novels, first page in HUGE PRINT , CLEAR AS DAY, any bigger and it might assault you ,,, the don’ts of said product.. And finally yes, I have heard about the fools hiking in the parks, straying of the paths CLEARLY MARKED AND STATING DANGERS, but once again, yup you stated it, ENTITLED FOOLS believes its for some wild and crazy notion that it some how does not apply to them,, they are smart , nothing will happen they are careful,,, Yet they don’t listen and well get hurt or worse killed and thus someone decides to sue the hell out of someone,, OH BUT WAIT there’s more,,, it does not stop there, they find a money hungry, out for gold, low life slime ball lawyer that will look under every slippery moss covered rock, under the bug infested logs, and dig thru the mole tunnels just to find a very tiny piece of evidence that someone was truly at fault , instead of looking at the truth right in front of you the facts, your stupid brainless idiot client threw caution to the winds. And got hurt or killed. Yeah they don’t teach RATIONAL BEHAVIOR, COMMON SENSE, PRACTICAL THINKING, SMARTOLOGY, THINKING WITH SAFTY IN MIND, CAUTIONOLOGY 101, no , god forbid anyone ever thinks of others , they more likely think of the FAST BUCK, NIT PICK THE INSTRUCTIONS, READ BEYOND THE FACTS, THROW CAUTION TO THE WINDS, CAPITILIZE ON A POTENTIAL GOLD MIND , TAKE ADVANTAGE, ABUSE AND USE, BLAME GAMES, THEY FIND SOME EXCUSE THEY HAD NO IDEA,,, and the list goes on & on,,,, I mean how stupid does one have to be to put a cup of hot coffee between their thighs with out the lid and drive away, I mean it brings the meaning of HOT STUFF to a all new high,,,, (CHUCKLING) FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS You know they are becoming more and more popular than they should be, When will the judges start to see these practices as time consuming.. I remember one (thankfully the judge threw it out) where a mother tried to sue a fast food restaurant for making her already obese child more obese,,,, it was so laughable, that it made head line news. More judges need to do more of throwing cases out because of the frivolous facts,, In this case, YOSEMITE has signs everywhere, as does YELLOW STONE, and still people go past them , over fences, and off trails and continue getting hurt or killed,,,, I mean ,, how much info do you need to know that the bubbling water at Yosemite park is DANGEROUS, EXTREMLY HOT, AND CAUSTIC.. I mean what will it take to stop you from doing something stupid… your own demise, OH WAIT I KNOW ITS SIMPLY DARN , It’s their GOD GIVEN RIGHT, that nobody should not be able to tell them they cant do anything, that its our freedom of rights that are being hampered so I will exercise my rights to IGNORE THE WARNINGS on account I DON’T BELIEVE THEM… see now was that so hard to admit,,,, people line up over here and follow the dope on a rope………. LOL

  10. DevilsAdvocate says:

    While this is very true, I also think that there should be more severe warning signs, perhaps even skull and crossbones (if not fencing off an area entirely) if there is a true danger to life and limb.

    Part of the problem is that many people are not conditioned to take a simple “No Swimming” or “No Climbing” sign seriously, especially since it is often used to simply restrict access to private property or enforce a city ordinance. Many people don’t care about violating the rules in that case, and may even get a thrill/rush about doing so.

    Unless you want to vigilantly enforce a simple “No Trespassing” sign and throw people in jail for violating it, you need something more for the average Homer J. Simpson to truly “get” the message before they end up risking life and limb over a cheap thrill. (I’m also sure the “Caution Well” sign Groundskeeper Willie put up after they rescued Bart from the well that time was enough to keep everyone away, too!)

    1. "POLTERGEIST " (the mountain goat) says:

      I was thinking an electric fence but that probably wouldn’t work because some idiot would undoubtedly put their tongue to it to see if it were “ON.” ZZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!

      1. big mistake... says:

        Hey Hon! Are those carrot sticks still in the lunch basket? Grab the camera! I’m gonna go pet the sheep!

  11. Alexis MacLean says:

    Love you Jon!

  12. Ron says:

    As someone else said, you hit the nail right on the head. I saw this type of behavior
    in Yellowstone when a tourist tried to get a close up of a grizzly with a point and shoot
    camera.Unfortunately there was a ranger there to stop him.

  13. FireGuyFrank says:

    I also wanted to chime in with, “Jon, you hit the nail on the head…:, but I missed and smashed my thumb.

    After a string of expletives, I was able to call for help — my lawyer.

    But seriously, folks, maybe — just maybe — people will get it when the person(s) and/or family(ies) of the pathologically stupid get the bill for the search and rescue.

  14. somewhere over the rainbow says:

    My significant other works in a park system during the summer collecting parking fees, assisting visitors, that sort of thing. One hot summer’s afternoon my partner was putting an orange cone out blocking the entrance as the lot was full. At that point a big, black Mercedes(with N.Y. plates) pulls up to the cone, the dark-tinted drivers window goes down and the driver states: “What are you doing? I know there are spots saved for V.I.P’s. People like me don’t wait!” My partner responds: “Sorry sir, the lot’s full. You’ll have to wait.” Mr V.I.P. goes off on my partner like there’s no tomorrow. At that point my partner goes over to the driver’s window, stares this guy down and states: “What don’t you understand about ” full,” The “LL or the “FU.” The New Yorker turned his car around and left. Good, life’s too short to take any _ _ _ _.

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      I love it! And on so many levels! LOL

    2. Ron says:

      Good for him more of should be like that.

  15. JohnC says:

    In Switzerland, if you get into trouble hiking or mountain climbing, and the rescue squad has to come and get you, you pay the cost of the rescue unless you had purchased insurance from the government. Running a twin-turbine engined helicopter ain’t cheap. Common sense says we should do the same thing here. On the topic of lawsuits: Until jurors apply some common sense in frivolous lawsuits, the lawsuits will continue. When a lawsuit is unsuccessful, the plaintiff should be required to pay the legal fees of the defendant. That’s common sense too. Unfortunately, it would seem that common sense is not common. See THE DEATH OF COMMON SENSE by Philip K. Howard.

    1. Ron says:

      New Hampshire does that

  16. Ajay says:

    As ‘Irene’ approaches New England this weekend, I have to wonder how many rescues local safety units will do along the New Engand shoreline.

  17. sick of it says:

    I was going to say something , but emon used up all the words !

  18. sick of it says:

    oops i meant emom noe emon sorry

  19. sick of it says:

    i cant type today !

    1. Hmm... says:

      is that you Joe?

  20. Ken Lynch says:

    You missed a major point!
    You overlooked (intentionally?) the fact that we have a highly permissive legal system where judges (lawyers) allow attorneys to proceed with these ridiculous cases in the first place. That is the real problem. The legal profession taking care of its own. There is a reason that this country only has 5% of the worlds population anf 70% of the worlds lawyers. Perhaps you left that point out intentionally

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