Saturday, January 29, 2011

Drink driving - as funny as being punched in the kidney while watching Schindler's List

Cultures change slowly, but they do change. Sometimes, even more rarely, they can be changed from without by a deliberate effort.

One of the cases where this was done was in Australia with drink driving. Traditionally, drink driving was viewed as a bit of a laugh - a kind of blokey, she'll-be-right type affair where everything was kind of funny as long as you made it home okay and avoided the cops.

Some time during the 80s, the government began a concerted public relations campaign to de-legitimise it, much the same way that smoking used to be publicly acceptable everywhere and is now largely shunned. They ran a series of quite effective campaigns with the slogan 'If you drink and drive, you're a bloody idiot'.

The idea was to get  people to view drink-driving for what it is - an activity where in expectation you kill people because you were too cheap to pay for a taxi.

Which, when viewed in that light, is disgusting. Saying that you didn't kill anyone this time is like saying that playing an involuntary game of Russian Roulette with the general public is okay, as long as it landed on an empty chamber. If you actually kill someone while drunk, I'd charge you with murder.If you crash or get picked up, I'd send you to the slammer for at least some period of time, no matter the excuse.

As you can perhaps tell from my attitude, the campaign was largely effective. Australians generally now view drink driving as not something funny, but something that makes you a scumbag.

Which is why it's strange to see people who clearly don't think that way. Witness Ludacris, in his song 'Move, Bitch':
"I'm D.U.I., hardly ever caught sober,
And you're about to get ran the fuck over."


It's bizarre to me that he would think this makes him sound cool. I take it as given that rappers are generally a) dumber than a bag of hammers, and b) about as good role models as the hobo down the street. But I do expect them to have a sense of what makes them sound cool - after all, appearing cool is their main job description. Since Ludacris is fairly successful, I'm guessing he probably has his finger on the pulse of public opinion better than me. If so, so much the worse for public opinion.

I guess you've got to do something to make yourself sound like a big man, especially when you're only 5'7". Little Man Syndrome claims another victim.

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