Just the other week the small group of friends I drink with was abuzz with the “schadenfreude” of a couple who had moved away but kept up to speed with the island by religiously enjoying the Honolulu Police Department’s weekly posting of DUI arrest mugshots. While there is nothing wrong with that, when one of our own group of friends got DUI’d & had his mugshot posted, this couple linked it on their Facebook page along with some rant about drunk drivers being idiots & “when will they ever learn.” It was pointed out, in subsequent discussion, that she doesn’t even drive while he has been known to drive drunk on a regular basis. However their both being in a different state gives them immunity, & therefore, apparently, the right to feel morally justified in deriding, humiliating, & patronizing a (former, I suppose, now) friend. “Why would they do something like that?” I had asked in shock, when I heard about it. “She seems to be the kind of person who delights in the misfortune of others,” someone said, sadly.
I ended my friendship with these people a couple of years ago for no particular reason other than it seemed that we were simply not on the same page any more, & now I can see that we’re really not on the same page. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good about closing a book. I’m so glad I didn’t have to stick around for the rest of the story.
But apparently my ex-friends were at the forefront of a brand new trend. They always were ultra cool, super hip. DUI Wednesdays popped up on Facebook & people have been joining it by the dozens, including many people I know & like. Mostly people who don’t drink very much or at all. Of course. So now, these are people I know, like, but have just that much less respect for.
Now, I know the mission statement behind DUI Wednesdays. It’s there to help. And maybe it will, although there’s no proof that it will. But one thing is guaranteed: anyone who joins this group & joins in ridiculing, condemning, & humiliating anyone who gets mugshotted for DUI will feel SUPERIOR. They will feel cool.
For some, lowering yourself is worth it. To feel cool.
I’m not saying that drunk drivers shouldn’t pay the price for their actions. Frankly, drunk drivers should consider themselves lucky if they only get arrested for DUI. That’s the best possible thing that can happen to them. If they killed someone else on the road, they would be wishing they had just been pulled over & had their license taken away. Drunk drivers should even feel lucky if all that happens to them, beyond just (“just” as in “fair”) prosecution, is that they are made fun of by a horde of assholes who have dehumanized them to the point of urging each other to find their individual Facebook profiles & harrass them, or posting their photos & making lewd comments & then congratulating each other.
The drunk drivers are just a bunch of pictures, effigies, toys. They’re not people, at least not to this group. They’re targets. And target practice is FUN.
This group is not humanitarian, nor is it for the improvement of society. It’s for self righteous folk to belittle & humiliate the vulnerable. It’s something people always want to do but don’t because it wouldn’t be nice. But these drunk drivers? They have no rights! They are less than people! They aren’t even human!
DUI Wednesdays is about its membership. It says more about its membership – the people jeering & harrassing & condemning – than it does about the actual targets. The people who have suddenly found a way to be part of The Cool Kids because they don’t drink, or they don’t drive, or they do but they haven’t been caught, & they’re here to spit on those who have because it proves that they are better than someone.
I know really nice people who joined this group. They’re nice, but they have no character. They don’t think about the consequences of their actions & what it says about them. They just know that their friend invited them to join & it’s cool. And that is how 99% of the people out there are. We are so entitled to our superiority.
I’ve gotten out of bed at 3:30am (when I had a day job, btw) to pick up a drunk friend so she wouldn’t drive. More than once. I’ve stayed out until 4am babysitting someone who wouldn’t give me his keys because I didn’t want him to drive. I’ve driven or followed people home countless times because I wasn’t sure if they could drive, or I’ve hosted after hours card games at my own house (which was near the bar) so people could sober up before driving home, even, once, at the cost of my own safety (but that’s another story). And I have never once argued or hesitated when someone told me to give them my keys; in fact, I am usually the one offering my keys to someone because I know that I shouldn’t drive. The last time I asked someone else to drive, we actually had access to a breathalyzer & I scored a .05.
I have never been DUI’d & the single time I was put through a sobriety check I blew a 0.0. I had spilled wine on my shorts earlier that evening & the cop smelled it. I have a friend who, realizing he was drunk & shouldn’t drive, pulled over into a parking stall on the side of the road, put his car in Park, reclined his seat & took a nap. He was being as responsible as he could. Unfortunately, he left his keys in the ignition to keep the AC on, & HPD used that as an excuse to haul him into the station. He wasn’t anywhere near .08 but it was just an example of the lack of sufficient doughnut shops in that area.
When someone I know gets a DUI I feel sympathy, but I also feel glad that it wasn’t something worse. And then I feel a little responsible, because we should all police each other. We shouldn’t be pushing that last shot if someone doesn’t want it. We shouldn’t turn a blind eye when someone looks too drunk to drive. We shouldn’t – like my ex-husband’s friends – fill a person up with liquor until he can’t even say his own name, then decide it’s time to go home… & leave him there.
There is nothing wrong in seeing the mugshots & laughing at them. I saw one when they first began being published & I laughed. I thought it was hilarious that some of them were smiling. There is nothing wrong with finding these pictures funny. There is nothing wrong with the voyeuristic enjoyment every Wednesday.
There is something wrong with making a Facebook group to unite the Holier Than Thou in a concerted effort to humiliate these people. It doesn’t make their crime any less criminal. It makes us criminal. It brings out the worst in us; the need to prey on the weak & spit on the helpless. Argue as much as you want that these people CHOSE to do something wrong; that has nothing to do with what YOU choose to do. Who you are. What you are.
I’m not impressed with people’s choices.
If that makes me uncool in your book, it doesn’t really matter to me. It never has.