It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of the Georgia Sports Blog, for more reasons than the fact that Paul Westerdawg is directly responsible for my entry into the Dawgosphere. Even when there are areas of disagreement between that weblog and this one, we generally are operating from similar premises and regard highly one another’s views.
However, Quinton McDawg made a grave error when he wrote this:
Here's my standard for arrests: If I and most normal, reasonable people have done it, then the player has embarrassed the program and should have to sprint up and down the stadium steps at 3:00 PM all summer until his guts spew from his orifices. But, no suspensions. If myself and other reasonable, normal people haven't done it, you miss time or get the boot. This standard is simple and removes the relative moralistic and political grandstanding of state legislatures and discretionary local law enforcement. (It also places me in sole control of arrest punishments for UGA athletes.)
Most people have driven a car tipsy, if not outright drunk. I'm not saying that's right because it is exceedingly wrong. But, it's not an uncommon thing. I've done it, even if I'm ashamed of it. So, DUI: RUNNING. While I've been tempted to stomp someone into unconsciousness, often in Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge, I've never actually done it. So, BYE-BYE. Minor in Possession: RUNNING. Shoot an AK-47 off in a parking lot: BYE-BYE. Suspended license: RUNNING. Dealing grass: BYE-BYE. Smoking grass: RUNNING. Dropping a keg on some dude's head: BYE-BYE. Kicked out of a Bossier City strip club: RUNNING. DUI with a twenty-something girl in the car and red panties on your lap: BYE-BYE (but man, I wish I could say RUNNING.)
The sentiment expressed in the first paragraph basically is sound, but the position taken at the start of the second paragraph is wrong, and dangerously so. To his credit, Quinton admits this, but his admission does not prevent him from reaching his morally mistaken conclusion.
While I will admit to leading a more boring life than most, even in my teens and twenties, I do not concede that "most normal, reasonable people" "have driven a car tipsy, if not outright drunk." Even if that premise is true, though, commonality does not justify leniency, at least as long as the following facts remain facts:
1. On average, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes in US
2. Each day 36 people die and almost 700 more are injured in vehicle crashes that involve a drunk driver
3. The total cost of alcohol related crashes is roughly $51 billion
4. In 2006, out of 1,746 fatality that included children one out of six was killed by an alcohol impaired driver
5. Half of all teenage fatalities is due to drunk driving
This type of behavior is exceedingly dangerous and exacts an enormous toll on life, limb, and property. While reasonable people can and do disagree over the best way to address this problem, minimizing the offense using an "everybody does it" rationalization is irresponsible.
The unfortunate part of Quinton’s posting is that he missed it by that much. He draws his line reasonably, with one exception. When people possess alcohol prior to turning 21, drive on suspended licenses, get tossed from strip clubs, or smoke marijuana, they do not put other people’s lives in jeopardy in the absence of extenuating circumstances. Some of those activities can lead to more dangerous behavior, but, alone, they do not put others at risk.
On the other hand, the safety of others is put directly in peril by stomping people into unconsciousness, discharging a semiautomatic weapon in a parking lot, drug trafficking, dropping a keg on someone’s head, and driving under the influence of alcohol, with or without an e-mail correspondent’s underwear in your lap.
In short, Quinton drew his line reasonably well, but he put DUI on the wrong side of that divide. While Quinton was right to denounce drunk driving as wrong, it is not enough for us to pay lip service to that exceptionally risky behavior. Driving under the influence needs to be punished like the serious offense that it is, even if the offenders are Bulldog-born and Bulldog-bred, and even---no; especially---if that criminal misconduct is common.