I wasn’t planning any expository posts for Infinite Regress yet, but one of the early reviews raised the issue of liability insurance for Whitehall School <grin>.
The short answer is that there’s no such thing.
The long answer is a little more complicated.
The Allied Lands have a greater understanding of the truth that ‘shit happens’ than the Western World. Life is not a bed of roses, they believe; one is born into danger and never leaves it until one dies. From the merest slave to the highest nobility, they all know that death can come at any moment, that the wheel of fortune may roll over and crush them at any moment. Something modern medicine would laugh off, in our world, would be fatal to them. Even the most powerful magicians know are unable to safeguard themselves completely.
Our world has adopted a ‘compensation culture’ that is steadily stripping the joy from life. We believe that all possibilities can be accounted for – and, when something goes wrong, someone is at fault, someone can be made to pay. A person who suffers a relatively minor injury (or the relatives of someone who winds up dead) can, with the help of an unscrupulous lawyer, wind up independently wealthy for life. On one hand, this leads to schools banning childish games like tag; on the other, this leads to a reluctance to admit responsibility for anyone (or even that mistakes were made) for fear of being made to pay for it.
This is stupid because there is no way you can remove the risk from life. There’s no way you can educate everyone about every risk, no way you can allow for natural human stupidity and rebelliousness, no way you can cover for every possible accident. A person may do everything right and still wind up dead or injured. And sometimes there’s no one who can be fairly – justly – blamed.
Whitehall is, to some extent, a military academy in the middle of a war zone. And the subject it teaches is immensely dangerous – Emily came close to killing someone after a few short weeks of training. The staff and students accept that things can go badly wrong, that students can and do get hurt; the school is not going to be shut down because of a handful of deaths or injuries. Their perspective on such events has more in common with the schools of 1900 than it does with 2016. And parents, recognising this too, have never withdrawn their children in vast numbers from the school.
That’s not to say that there won’t be questions asked if a student – or several students – wind up dead. There would be an inquiry. Truth spells would be used to make sure the facts – all of the facts – were gathered. But there would be no punishment for honest mistakes – or random accidents. If a student decided to defy instructions and wound up dead, no one would demand his tutor’s head on a platter. Even the youngest students at Whitehall are of an age, in the Allied Lands, where they are expected to be responsible for themselves.
Whitehall did suffer from reduced enrolment in the wake of Shadye’s attack on the school and the Mimic’s rampage. No one would have cared – much – if Shadye had marched his army up to the gates of Whitehall, but a near-successful attack on the school concentrated a few minds. At the same time, like I said, risk is part of life. And the important detail, as far as many parents were concerned, was that the school survived and Shadye died.
And no one in the school – at least, no one still living – can reasonably (by their standards) be blamed for the problems it faced.