Last week, I wrote one of my most read Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog posts in the last four years, thanks to a Twitter link from the authors of Freakonomics. I love Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics to the point where I would put the Twitter link on my bio if it would not make me so obviously pathetic.
Anyway, the subject of the post was the ignored risks of pedestrians and alcohol which cause a remarkable number of deaths and injuries (and car accidents) every year in this country. To underscore this point, I read as I do every Monday, Norman Chad’s syndicated column in the Washington Post. At the end of his column, he does a little question and answer:
Q: Re: Colts punter Pat McAfee. Have you ever been arrested shirtless, soaking wet and reeking of alcohol? — Brian King, Carmel, Ind.
A: Too much is made of public intoxication; in a simpler America, I believe you should be allowed to walk home drunk. Plus punting’s a part-time job with Peyton Manning’s Colts — I wouldn’t begrudge McAfee a midweek cocktail.
People should be allowed to walk home drunk? Now imagine if he had said the same thing about drinking and driving. I think the blogosphere would probably explode. Norman Chad must apologize to the families of everyone killed in a drunken pedestrian accident. He should be suspended from his job at ESPN and his column should be taken down for three months. He should be made to write 1000 times, “I will not make light of the serious public health issue of drunk pedestrians ever again.” Norman Chad should be caned.
No, wait! That is the idiot’s reaction, trying to beat an apology out of another public figure, particularly from a humorist who is just uninformed like everyone else on the real risks caused by drunk pedestrians. We need the public to pay more attention to issues that matter and less to the useless apologies beaten out of people who are trying in good faith to be honest or harmlessly funny.
But this is a teachable moment (yes, I’m sending my $2 to Obama for the copyright) about the associated risks of pedestrians and too much alcohol. I’m not saying we need a national movement running television commercials – an important issue does not have to be the most important issue – but it is a serious public health problem we need to take seriously. There may not be the same moral imperative to stop pedestrians as there is to stop drunk drivers but there needs to be enough public awareness so that someone like Norman Chad (and his editors) feels compelled to pass on a laugh to help save lives (and to avoid the risk of a public backlash).