Somebody out there could have prevented this. Somebody could have taken his keys, disconnected his alternator, or flattened his tires. Somebody should have had the guts to tell that idiot that it was not going to be alright, since he was too preoccupied with his own "freedom" to care. Now it's too late.
I am saddened by the loss of Walton County Sherriff's Lt. Darren Hester and the severe injury of his wife Jamie as I write this. I am angered beyond words that he met his demise because of a DUI driver. I am annoyed that just beneath the Patch story about the tragedy is a happy story about a beer festival. The State Patrol hasn't released the results of the driver's blood-alcohol content tests or the results of the other drugs he was tested for. Still, "Yay, beer!" doesn't sit real well with me at this moment and it just seems wrong to have those headlines so close together.
Alcohol. It's the most popular mind-altering drug on the planet. Involved in roughly half of all fatal accidents in the country. Assessable. Socially acceptable. Legal.
It should be legal, just like firearms. But why do people own firearms? I think it is safe to say that every gun owner will agree that personal protection is the main reason. Most will agree that the bad guys shouldn't be the only ones with the guns. Here's the underlying truth behind that statement: We arm ourselves against other people who have guns. We do not trust everyone out there with a firearm to not abuse that right. The right to bear arms does NOT include the right to impede the freedom of others while brandishing your weapon.
This is true of alcohol, as much or more so. I hear a lot about the freedom of alcohol; I hear very little about the responsibility of it. Your judgement is impaired when you drink. You are unable to make sound descisions on the most basic of things, including but not limited to: driving, parenting, walking, ability to determine the need for breath mints or gauge the attractiveness of members of the opposite gender from across the bar.
Did I just call you a bad parent because you drink? No, I said you're a lousy parent while you're drinking. Meant it, too. The statistics are staggering and the childhood memories don't lie.
So "responsable" drinking is nothing of the sort. There is certainly merit in moderation, but there is nothing responsable about rendering yourself useless with a mind-altering drug. It is simply removing yourself from any situation where someone might actually have to depend on you.
But, hey...if that's your thing, then by all means do your thing. Just try to do it in a manner that doesn't affect others. You want to drink yourself stupid, in the confines of your own home, or in some bar? Knock yourself out, but don't pretend that your decision to do so doesn't affect others around you. Indirectly or directly, one person's drinking will affect another person's life. It could be the people you should hold most dear, or some guy out for a ride with his wife. You can limit these impacts on others, but you simply cannot deny they exist.
When people kind of hold their nose to issues of "alcohol freedom," it isn't always about religion. In fact, it rarely is. It's just easy to give that label because this is a difficult positition to articulate. It's really about trust, or lack thereof. I do not trust drinkers to make good decisions, ones that don't affect others. Why should I? That this is a legitimate concern is self-evident and not debatable. There are far too many broken homes, shattered dreams and dead motorists to suggest otherwise.
Trust is not given lightly. Saying you can trust someone to practice moderation is not the same as trusting all. Drinkers as a demographic have failed miserably to earn that trust. Until there are less poor decisions made and less innocent people affected by them, beer drinkers, accept and deal with this truth. You want trust?