Roger Ebert is in hot water with Jackass fans over a comment he made on Twitter: “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” And the hysteria was on…never mind that Ebert was absolutely right, Jackass fans behaved…like jackasses. What of Dunn’s friends that night? Why did they let Dunn get behind the wheel of his car, putting the lives of innocent people at risk? He did, in fact, take another life that night, Zachary Hartwell.
Dunn’s blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit; toxicology reports are due that will reveal if alcohol and excessive speed were the only factors.
Sure, it is a shame that Dunn has died. Of course he had friends and they grieve but had Dunn or Dunn’s drinking buddies that night, taken one single moment to consider the consequences of Dunn’s getting behind the wheel of his car, no one would be grieving, no one would be typing incomprehensible Tweets and blog responses.
The hard, hard, cold reality of this is that Dunn is responsible for his own death and for the death of Zachary Hartwell but so too, are Dunn’s friends responsible. Nobody is unaware that more than two drinks, two beers, two glasses of wine will put you over the legal blood alcohol limit. Legal blood alcohol limit. Legal limit doesn’t mean that you are stumbling down, pissing on yourself, wasted. Legal limit means that the law says you are not allowed to drive, whether you or your friends think you are King of the Bar. It doesn’t matter if your equally immature, irresponsible buddies think that your ability to hold your booze in mythical. You are in violation of a law that even children understand.
Dunn is dead, Zachary Hartwell is dead due to Dunn’s hubris. In addition, Dunn and his friends are, at worst, responsible for murder, at least, manslaughter. Hartwell wasn’t behind the wheel, although he should not have taken a lift with Dunn; Ryan Dunn is responsible for Hartwell’s death.
At what point does society wake up and assign blame where it belongs? Only when the perpetrator in one of the great unknown? Dunn’s drunk driving, his use of excessive and illegal speed would have been used to, metaphorically, lynch a lesser known person. Fame makes one immune from truth? From responsibility. It would seem so, look at all the “celebrities” who manage to skirt the law with their abuse of privilege.
Dunn’s death is a tragedy to his friends and family. Hartwell’s death is a tragedy to his friends and family. It could have been far worse, Dunn could have taken other innocent lives with him. He was a drunk driver, an irresponsible driver with no regard for anyone but himself that night. I don’t think anyone could deny the Dunn family their right to grieve but the facts are there, Dunn killed himself and someone else, through his own actions but then again, he was also killed by his friends in the bar that night. The ones who should not have let him behind the wheel of that car, if he was beyond the legal limit. They didn’t need a breathalyser, they were aware he was beyond the legal limit.
Dunn’s friends were jackasses that night. And Ebert was, partially, correct in his assessment of the situation, apparently jackasses do let friends drink and drive.