Now You Know Why Mom Said, “Don’t Jump on the Mattress”

There are negligent dischrges and then there are grossly negligent discharges. We stopped counting when our number register overflowed trying to add up all the things that had to be done negligently for this accident to happen:

CHICAGO (CBS) – A 5-year-old girl jumping on a bed was injured by a bullet early Saturday when a gun beneath the mattress went off, police said.

The incident occurred at about 12:22 a.m…. The child was jumping on a bed when a weapon discharged, apparently from underneath the mattress.

See Girl Jumps On Mattress, Causing Gun To Fire And Hit Her « CBS Chicago.

This may be a rare case where the passive voice is justified, briefly and locally, in talking about a gun that “went off.” Because there was no human agent actively operating the gun. But there was an idiot whose gross negligence set this mishap up.

First place, someone had to violate that Chicago gun ban that keeps everybody safe, except for the hundreds of murder victims that the Mayor, who loves him some ban, doesn’t care about because they were dumb enough to be born black and poor and live in bad neighborhoods, while he was smart enough to be born rich and Jewish and never has to see a bad neighborhood.

As he would no doubt say, [something that Cee-Lo Green famously sings] them.

But snark aside, somebody put a loaded gun. Under a mattress. Round in the chamber or in the cylinder, under the hammer. Protected by nothing. Without a manual safety engaged.

Then this mental giant had to turn a five year old loose in the room with the unsecured gun.

Then said brainiac had to allow the kid to use the bed for a trampoline. (“Hey what do we care. It’s a furnished Section 8 rental, to us it’s free!”). After midnight.

The good news: the wound was in the ankle and the girl will live.

No one appears to have been charged. The authorities in America’s capital of Third World corruption reserve that treatment for transiting tourists.

2 thoughts on “Now You Know Why Mom Said, “Don’t Jump on the Mattress”

  1. Graeme Wood

    “Went off” is not passive voice, but active. (If “go off” were a transitive verb, we could say “the gun was went off,” and that would be passive.)

    I make this nitpick-y correction only because this blog is a smart and literate one that seems to appreciate fine distinctions. Also because the guys at Language Log are wild animals when it comes to this stuff and will conduct one of their scorched-earth Passive Voice raids against you if you keep it up.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Thanks, Graeme.

      You are correct, because “the gun” is the subject. So our problem is not with “passive voice” literally, but with the meaning of the sentence that imputes agency to an inanimate object. We should probably rewrite the sentence to say something like, “This may be a rare case where the passive voice is justified, briefly and locally, in talking about someone who ‘was injured’ by a gun that just ‘went off.’” Still not quite there but gives us some cover for the “passive voice” quip.

      Note to self: self, compartmentalize thy gun-expert and grammar-nazi-wannabe tendencies, lest an authentic grammarian tune thee up.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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