In Austin, Texas, during SXSW, an automobile driver drove his vehicle into a crowd of people killing 2 and injuring at least 23.
Naturally, this has become an opportunity for people to shriek about SXSW getting “too big!”
Is SXSW too big? There are arguments to be made. But this accident isn’t an argument in favor or against. This incident was caused by a driver attempting to evade police doing DWI checks. The presence of crowds provided opportunity for more injury — but the culpability for this was not the crowd, or the festival. The individual at fault — and yes, innocent until proven guilty, but the initial evidence is compelling — was the person responsible.
This isn’t dissimilar to the facts of several pedestrian fatalities in Dinkytown in 2011 — the sidewalk being filled with pedestrians didn’t cause injury, the driver driving on the sidewalk caused injury.
It’s extremely trendy in many circles, ranging from interactive to music, to ponder if SXSW is too big, not cool enough, too mainstream. And that’s perfectly okay, because interactive, especially, does enjoy navel-gazing and justifying its own coolness.
But this isn’t an argument against festivals, festival size, or crowds. It’s an argument against bad drivers, which can happen even in small density situations. It may be an argument for enhanced traffic calming during festivals (although the DWI screening may have been a part of that).
But let’s not blame victims for congregating or having a good time.