April 9, 1998

The consumption of alcoholic beverages predates the beginning of recorded history. We drink for pleasure, to relax, to socialize and as an aid to digestion. Alcohol also sharpens the mind and improves the reflexes, as every honest drinker will attest. Contrary to this understanding, some radical groups have argued that driving an automobile while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and should be prohibited. Their theories, based on seriously flawed research, fly in the face of common sense and every-day experience. They cite only the most extreme cases in an attempt to bolster their arguments and to discredit a time-honored, universal human tradition. Their so-called research does not examine the effects of alcohol in isolation from myriad other factors that influence driving safety such as moral character, maturity and driving skill. They only quote the statistics that suit them. They consistently and deliberately overlook the fact that the overwhelming majority of drunk drivers arrive at their destinations without mishap.

What have these do-gooders accomplished? Are the roads any safer these days? I doubt it! And the police (who should be out there fighting crime) are kept busy testing blood alcohol levels of honest, law-abiding drivers. It is hard to imagine a more egregious violation of personal liberty and privacy. The content of one's blood is one's personal business; not the state's. And what one does in the privacy of one's car should be of no concern to law enforcement as long as the rules of the road are obeyed. If this cancer of runaway governmental intrusion into the private lives of citizens is not curbed, there is no telling where it will lead.

The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, intended that government should stick to the job of arresting and punishing criminals, not harassing honest, decent drunk drivers who aren't bothering anyone and are doing only what past generations have done. Society has managed very well indeed before all the bleeding hearts, do-gooders, abolitionists, psychobabblers and radical social theorists popped out of the woodwork and started passing judgement on other people's behavior. Those of us who drive drunk responsibly had better stand up for our rights before bureaucrats armed with search warrants are demanding to inspect the entire contents of our kitchens and threatening to confiscate our car keys.

Below are some of the responses to "Drive Drunk Responsibly" I received soon after the mailing. I've deleted authors' names. JR
very cute. Unfortunately, I fear it is much too subtle for even our audience, much less general consumption. I predict a flurry of outraged posts rejecting your "assertions" and even (shudder) one or two hearty agreements. Let me know how it comes out.
I liked this quite a lot. You're a fine writer, Jordan! Thanks for including me in your mailing.
Surely, you jest!!!
Well done. Do you want me to post it on the listserv?
[Intro on listserv post] I received the following clever letter from Jordan Riak, and thought you might enjoy it.
love it, Jordan!
Jordan: Great analogy, etc., etc. Thanks!
I'm confused. What does this have to do with violence in education? This seems to be another issue, about which you feel strongly, but I suspect that there are people on both sides of this issue who are with us on corporal punishment. I hope that you will manage to keep the two separate -- perhaps on different web sites. (If I sound passionate about this, it's because my wife has lost a close relative, and her best female friend lost her son, to drunk drivers. Both were in their early twenties; both were driving at safe speeds on clear days during the daytime; and in both cases the drunk driver was going the other way and simply wandered over the line and hit their car, killing them instantly.
Jordan, Do you want a response to this or what?
This is absolutely hilarious...totally funny. What do you think of sending a number of this type arguments to US News and World Report?...Never know if ridicule will work or just upset them into printing more of the same. My check is in the mail! Happy drinking!
I hope that this was some sort of JOKE. Not a good one, IMHO. My uncle was killed by a drunk driver. If this is the sort of message you wish to relay, you can take me off your e-mail list.
That's a great analogy, Jordan. I just hope no one takes it literally!
Very clever.

The analogy is especially meaningful for me right now. Four months ago, my grandfather was killed by a drunk driver -- while walking across the street.

He would always ask me when I'm going to be a doctor.

The second week in May I will take my last medical school exams, ending my classroom training and beginning my work in the hospital, taking care of patients. If this is a doctor, then that will be the week I make the transition -- the same week my grandfather's killer goes on trial for manslaughter. As the trial comes to an end during the summer, I will be doing that which a doctor does. A sick coincidence I suppose.

I hope that wasn't too depressing.

Dear Jordan:
I am so very sorry that you sent this email. I am a very firm believer in not getting behind the wheel of a powerful piece of machinery while under the influence of alcohol and/or mind altering drugs. That you can support something like this, after all your good works, is beyond my comprehension.

Even the most minute amount of alcohol can alter one's judgement. As a nurse and concerned mother, I've seen too often the effects that alcohol has on ruining and destroying lives. Yes, it is our right as an American citizen to choose whether or not to consume alcohol. However, it is not our right to get behind the wheel of a guided missile and subject innocent people to our impaired reflexes and judgement. It is plain stupidity and recklessness to do so.

At this point I decided I had better own up. I sent the list a brief clarification reassuring everyone that I had not traded my computer for a rifle and was not at this moment marching off into the woods, pockets full of ammo and food bars, to do a Custer's-last-stand in defense of my rights. Below are some of the responses that followed. JR
Well, I feel better now. I did wonder about the message. I thought is was satire, but, heck, these days, who knows!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for the clarification. I was worried there.
Dear Jordan:
Yes, to understate, I don't really think satire is your forte. Stick to doing what you do best. Best!
I thought it was a scream, and passed it along to friends as great satire. Hope everyone else enjoyed it too.
Hi, Jordan.
Yeah, I was a little concerned. You didn't really offend me, but the message did sound pretty nuts. That's pretty good that the Academy of Pediatrics now discourages parents from spanking.
Is this supposed to be funny? What does this have to do with the anti-Corporal Punishment Petition I and my colleagues have signed on to?
Whew!! Since I don't know you even slightly, I'm glad to know that I haven't signed on to sponsor a campaign of the lunatic fringe.
I have just read your "clarification" and appreciate it. However, it's best that you think through carefully what you send out via email. Your drunk driving "satire" was stupid, tasteless, offensive and, I am sure, hurtful to many. You can say what you want to friends and "those who know you," asyou put it. However, you are involved in an important project and people like me are willing to sign on to that project. You have to submerge your "satirical self" when you are involved in something like this. Otherwise, you only hurt an important cause. Please don't do anything like this again.
I've lost loved ones to drunken drivers and I wasn't the least offended by your satire. Unfortunately, it is too typical of a real alcohol, tobacco, and spanking mindset out there, and that's why some may have taken it as sincere!
I got it Jordan--although whenever you do things like this you take a chance on people taking it literally or not getting it. You might want to open with an introduction next time--like "what would it be like if we used pro-hitting arguments to support drinking?" I've done the same with pro-slavery arguments out of the Bible--and the sad thing is these were also actually used to support slavery.
And a marvelous satire at that. So was my smoking one. Was anyone really offended??
LOL! Love the concept of trading a computer for a rifle! I know I"VE been tempted sometimes!

I'm planning to write a similar satire, only on the positive side of things, by taking a chapter from "Customer Service for Dummies" and substituting "child" for "customer". Everyone "gets it" re customer rights, but not children's rights!

Dear Jordan:
Thank God! You really had me worried. I thought you had gone off the deep end for sure! Thanks for clarifying.
thanks for the clarification, I thought you were "jesting" but your later response made me wonder. I have appreciated the No Spanking booklets more than you can believe. The Dad I was talking about has begun to back off. I gave him the information and gave him time to "save face" since he wasn't "legally" abusive. One step at a time... Thanks again for your help etc.
I knew what you were writing. I say again, Good Job. Keep up the work. Peace to you and yours.
Did you acutally have readers that didn't catch it?????? Whew!!! .... <:(
Hi Jordan!
I doubt if you will get this e-mail. For some reason or the other I am blocked from e-mailing you. Think about "WHY" people drive drunk. I bet in a public opinion poll 100% are victims of corporal punishment!
I hope you didn't take too much flack over the "Drive Drunk Responsibly" I think you illustrated a good point, and in a funny way. Anyhow, just wanted to tell you that. I know sometime you only hear from people that don't agree with you, and that even something that was intended to be funny yet illustrate an important point can be misunderstood. Well take care.

I found your "satire" offensive to a serious degree. I don't think there is anything humorous about drunk-drivers.

Your credibility has been damaged, even if you claim it was a joke.

Please remove me from your mailing list.

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