|Cari Lightner, 13, was killed by a drunken driver a few hours after this photo was taken in 1980. Her mother Candace went on to found Mothers Against Drunk Driving|
It was good to hear Sam Kinison again.
The maniacal scream, that wicked giggle.
“Such a moral push, isn’t there in this country?” the comedian says on a 1988 album. “To try to get us to behave.”
And here let’s leave out a few obscene gerunds.
“Don’t drink and drive,” he sneers. “God, they have made such a big deal about this, haven’t they? It didn’t used to be such a big deal. You had a few drinks, you drove home. Now you’re a ....”
We’ll skip a pair of crude anatomical descriptions - “... child killer!”
The crowd whoops, ignoring that the one printable accusation is often literally true. Kinison explains the reluctant necessity of drunken driving: ”We don’t want to ... but there’s no other way to get our car back to the house. How are we supposed to get home? We’ve got to drink and drive.“
That neatly sums up the public attitude at the time. Laws were pliant. In Texas, you could legally carry a beer while driving.
Enter Candace Lightner, whose daughter Cari, 13, was run down by a thrice-convicted drunken driver in 1980. The group she formed, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, did not find drunken driving funny. It showed America what the joke cost, the faces of the more than 20,000 Americans whose lives were taken by alcohol-impaired drivers every year.
Attitudes changed. Laws changed. You can’t legally drive and drink beer in Texas anymore — open containers were banned from vehicles in 2001. Now driving drunk is a serious crime. No one is laughing anymore.
Where am I going with this? After the latest mass shootings, calls for common sense gun laws grew louder. They always do, after Parkland and Sandy Hook and America’s litany of shame. Then we go quiet again.
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