This seems to be an occasion for wheeling out that horrible old saying: He died doing what he loved. He thought he had Justin Bieber set up for a shot. The photographer was swelling with delight and then — blam — not from a Ferrari but an SUV. Let's hope he never knew what hit him — to coin a phrase — and never knew that Bieber wasn't even in that car. He died doing what he loved! He had his peak of paparazzi ecstasy and then... annihilation. A consummation. It's over.
But wait! Justin Bieber wants to speak:
"While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim... Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves."Oh, Justin. Not every screw-up is an argument for legislation. Putting "meaningful" in front of "legislation" is itself meaningful, but what does it mean? 1. It means meaninglessness, an empty existential cry in the face of helplessness. 2. It means I would like to soothe myself with the fantasy that if the right laws had been in place, the bad thing that just happened would not have happened. 3. It means that we can express meaning through laws, that laws work as expression, quite aside from whether they have any effect on the bad things we would like to call bad.
Now, should we also get on Bieber's case for calling what happened a "tragedy"?
Tragedy (Ancient Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia, "he-goat-song") is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes in its audience an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in the viewing....Pedants love to say that the word "tragedy" is misused, but I think we may have encountered a correct use of the word. That correct usage seems out of place with the rest of the statement, with its angst about prayer, inspiration, and meaning. One suspects Bieber bumbled into saying something he wouldn't have meant to say. It's meaning without a mind that meant it. We witness human suffering and feel... good!
ADDED: The more apt term is poetic justice — "a literary device in which virtue is ultimately rewarded or vice punished, often in modern literature by an ironic twist of fate intimately related to the character's own conduct." The key is the self-contained logic of the story. It makes sense. There should be no call for legislation to find meaning. The meaning is already there. What happened is exactly right: poetic justice. The Wikipedia page I just linked has some examples, and since we were just talking about Wile E. Coyote, I enjoyed seeing him first on the list of poetic justice in TV and film: "Wile E. Coyote always sets traps for Road Runner, only to end up in the traps themselves." The phrase "hoist with his own petard" expresses the concept. Did you know it's from "Hamlet":
"For 'tis the sport to have the engineer / Hoist with his own petard." (Shakespeare, Hamlet (III.iv.226).)And did you know (again, from Wikipedia):
During the late 17th century, critics pursuing a neo-classical standard would criticize William Shakespeare in favor of Ben Jonson precisely on the grounds that Shakespeare's characters change during the course of the play.... When Restoration comedy, in particular, flouted poetic justice by rewarding libertines and punishing dull-witted moralists, there was a backlash in favor of drama, in particular, of more strict moral correspondence.