whited sepulchre at livejournal dot com

In a group of people I’m sort of peripherally connected to, some very bad stuff just happened. One person was driving drunk and crashed, causing one other person to die and a third person to be seriously injured. From the reports I’ve seen it appears that the driver may have also fled the scene perhaps because of a suspended license. It’s a bad business in a lot of ways. Because these people were connected to LJ and other message boards, there’s been a tremendous amount of traffic of people talking about the incident, and mainly about what attitude to take to the driver.

The messages have the tone of finely tuned outrage that one only sees on network bulletin boards. Loads of “I have no sympathy for anyone who would” and “Bitch deserves ____” and “mend my bleeding heart for a convicted felon” and lots of other Two Minutes Hate.

A lot of this is understandable, because a drunk person who kills and injures and flees isn’t admirable. This is why this person is now facing criminal prosecution, financial ruin, social isolation, and a mark of shame on her record for life.

Oddly it appears necessary for everyone in livejournal land to get their hate on also and call for her to rot in hell, be raped in prison, etc. Even more oddly, at least one thread I read degenerated into an argument over whether one of the victims was an “LJ Superstar” or not.

To judge by the people calling loudest for her crucifixion, every dissipated hipster in Northern California has suddenly acquired John Ashcroft’s moral vision. Someone who has committed a serious crime is a nonhuman who is to be consigned to Hell, via an endless prison term, which they hope will include cruel and unusual punishments. There’s no harsher judge, it seems, than a libertine who finds that rare excuse to moralize. There goes the idea of prison as rehabilitation. Bring on the guillotine!

I’ve known drunks and drug addicts, and some of them have done terrible things, worse than manslaughter DUI. Remarkably, they’re still human, and some are good friends. I’d rather have them than the Livejournal Pillory Team around if I do something that stupid and awful some day.

22 thoughts on “whited sepulchre at livejournal dot com

  1. That whole situation sucks.
    I’ve clearly been reading the wrong message boards – I haven’t seen a whole lot of that.
    But it proves once again that revenge is not an admirable desire.

  2. Online, people LOOOVE to pass judgment and be self-righteous in ways they’d never dare in a face-to-face conversation. The relative anonymous nature of online communities allows this. Nobody here knows what kind of bastards we TRULY are, underneath the icons. Everyone here is perfect and without fault, right?
    It does get pretty old.
    Sorry about your friend and the tragedies ensuing her poor choice. It sounds like there is lots of heartache all around.

  3. I saw that stuff and was very surprised. I mean, it might be that the vocal minority thing is at work here, but it’s reaaaaally hard to tell. I’ve done my share of stupid things, and yes, some of them were ridiculously illegal. I just have the good fortune of not ever driving a motor vehicle.
    I find it very strange when people automatically exert their powers of Cranky before those of empathy and understanding for the whole situation. There but for the grace of God and all that jazz. This isn’t a “I drowned my whole family including dogs and goldfish because the people on my favourite soap didn’t get married”. It’s big massive accident drunken horror time. It could happen to anyone, given the right set of crapulent circumstances.

    1. accident?
      “It’s big massive accident drunken horror time. It could happen to anyone, given the right set of crapulent circumstances.”
      no…it couldnt happen to anyone. it could happen to a person who made a decision to drive drunk and then made a decision to leave the premises of the disaster that followed as a result of said bad choices. i dunno how that is an accident.
      driving drunk is a choice. leaving the scene of a collision is a choice.
      is the person who makes these decisions inherently bad, or a monster? dunno. depends on if you feel that a person is the sum of their choices or not.
      but several of the comments here have the same words: accident. circumstances. mistake. maybe for the people who were killed or hurt. but the person driving–that person, who i assume is an adult, made an active choice. they are not some sort of victims of a grand set of circumstances.

      1. Re: accident?
        Yes and no.
        It’s an accident because the drunk driver who crashed did not intend to crash, or to kill anyone. That’s what makes it different from murder.
        It’s true that drunk drivers choose to take unacceptable risks and that therefore they are more severely punished than other people who crash their cars and cause deaths.
        Driving too fast is a choice. Driving really tired is a choice. Driving on ice is a choice. There are a load of rotten choices one can make driving that might kill other people. All of them are shameful lapses of judgment and ethics and should be treated as such.
        My point was that “drunk” driving for some people opens up this torrent of justified hatred and moralism and allows them to treat the criminal as a nonperson. I think that’s more than the circumstances call for.

      2. Re: accident?
        Yes. I’ve seen people drive angry, and no one says “hey, that person is doing something morally objectionable”… but it is. People do stupid stupid things every single day.
        I find the “oh, well after the accident, they did X and X and X” really irritating and stupid, too. Have people not heard of shock? All the anger sounds like a grab for the moral high ground by people who are too caught up in themselves to notice that they’re just as fallible as anyone else. I find all this post-incident quarterbacking tiresome, and not helpful to anyone.

      3. Re: accident?
        the road to hell is paved with good intentions. she didnt intend to kill someone, but she did.
        the drunk driver who flew through the kitschbar parking lot last month and almost took off my friend darren’s legs didnt mean to total darren’s car, but she did. luckily no one was hurt. but if darren hadnt jumped out of the way, he would have lost his legs. explaining to him that she didnt mean to take them off…well. that probably wouldnt have gotten her too far.
        not saying that she’s a monster, or amoral. but driving drunk is not an accident. it’s a choice.

      4. Re: accident?
        Driving drunk is a choice which has been well documented to be hazardous. More to the point, it puts other, innocent, parties at mortal risk. Which is practical reason enough to punish it severely enough to make sure that any remotely rational person weighing up the choices would decide that it isn’t worth it.
        IMHO, if someone decides to drive whilst drunk, the penalty should certainly be more severe than killing someone in an accident whilst sober. I’d say that second-degree murder/manslaughter is probably a good balance.
        Aside: here in the UK, some genius recently decided to end his life, by parking his car on a train track and waiting for the train, and in doing so, killed six other people (including the driver, and an 8-year-old girl). It’s a pity that there’s no way to bring such fuckstains back to life to answer for their actions.

  4. Completely apart from your friend’s circumstances, the extremely common not-even-tacit approval of prison rape bugs the living shit out of me. What is wrong with people?

      1. Re: prison sex is funny, you see
        It’s part of the “criminals get off too easily” meme, which, in any environment, always sells tabloid papers and such. If Rupert Murdoch had a paper in Saudi Arabia, you can bet that it would have been screaming outrage about the lenient sentences handed down to evil, evil fiends by loony-liberal mullahs. (“This evil monster walks away to steal again with his remaining hand — justice has not been done”)
        And tolerating prison rape is a way to get around the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, which every law-and-order reactionary knows is a party killer. You see, it’s not the government that metes out the punishment here.

  5. hi, I’m random.
    Personally, I’ve only known the families of victims, rather than anyone responsible. And not once has anyone from the families wished any illwill against them. They’ve asked that they should be held responsible and they’ve asked for justice.
    There is no set way for someone to grieve, and there are ugly sides to the grief. Everyone will have their moment when they want to put the person responsible through a lot of pain, so they can feel the pain from everyone affected. But the name calling and threats in the end only puts more hate out there, and makes you sour. Its easy to spew that out on the internet, but I’ve found the time would be better spent appreciating the people you still have in your life, and supporting eachother to get through the grief.
    I agree, people just forget that they’re human. Accidents happen, and the person responsible could have been your mother, father, brother, etc. But I’m a stranger ranting on your journal. I’m sorry to hear about this accident.
    -manda

  6. i haven’t seen any of this (yet), but i’d agree with what you’ve said here. this wasn’t a purposeful act. yeah, it was stupid and it had terrible consequences, but it doesn’t mean she’s a “monster”. i generally have feelings like that for the ted bundys of the world (and people who talk in the theater).
    sometimes i spew vitriol about certain people needing to be tortured and what not, but it’s generally tongue-in-cheek. blah. i dunno. it’s too bad this happened, though.

  7. I ran across you post and wanted to let you know that was very well said. I know none of these people, but my heart cries for them since I have been a similar situation and I really understand the pain involved. But watching the reaction of people has made me feel almost bewildered. Thank you for an articulate and truthful post.

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