I live in the West. The real West. Montana. The kind of state that said speed limits aren’t real until the federal government mandated it and even then, if you buy the cop some lunch he’ll let you skate by. It’s the kind of state where you’re born with pride, not because of anything particularly impressive but because you are in a state that is rugged, inventive, and outrageously beautiful.
A lot of people here don’t think the rules or laws apply to them. They do what they want, how they want, when they want. If they get caught doing something forbidden, it isn’t their fault, it’s the fault of the state for having a crappy law.
When I moved here in 2009, my Montana-born friends told me that having an open container in the car was perfectly legal – so long as it wasn’t within reach of the driver. (Apparently the front seat is “out of reach”) My friend from Butte (Butte, America is famous for having a highly radioactive mining pit – now disused – that is a mile wide and a mile deep) has told me time and time again that if you’re drinking anything besides coffee and beer you’re not a man. The representatives to national politics bring bolo ties and big belt buckles with their big personalities to Washington. The governor has a “VETO” brand for legislation.
Drinking and Driving? It’s practically a state past time here.
I can go downtown Missoula and identify how far my friends have been drinking by which sidewalk their pickup truck is impeding on. There’s a systematic bar crawl here, and drunk driving laws sure as hell aren’t going to stop people from driving their overly loud truck (or “Rig”) the half a block to the next bar.
The West is weird like that.
Oklahoma, while further south, is somewhat similar I’d imagine. I’ve never been, and the closest I have come to wanting to visit is reading things about Tulsa at the Art of Manliness (great blog!).
Drinking and driving is a culture that is tough to dispel. Blackmon has spent a lot of time in Oklahoma and I guarantee that, like my friend from Butte, there’s a bit of pride about being from a western state. Pride borne down from the community. It’s a harsher place to live than California or Virginia. It’s a more barren area. When you live in a place like Oklahoma, damnit you deserve a drink.
Tack on the fact that he was returning to the state where he went to college and high school and having a few beers too many with your friends is just a great idea. Going to a bar (or two or three or four) is a part of the college culture. Some of the best friendships are forged in the dingy corners of that bar you don’t remember. It’s an experience going out, and when you have those experiences and meet up with people you used to do that with, it’s tough not to do it again. College students, well they’re invincible apparently. Drunk driving is almost a natural byproduct of drinking for those students aged 18-22.
I’m not saying drinking and driving is right (it’s definitely wrong). There have been numerous other players who have driven drunk. There have been numerous people who drive after having one (or five) too many. There are players that struggle with addictions. There are numerous things about Justin Blackmon’s situation that aren’t new the NFL scene. But maybe these are just growing pains.
DUIs are serious, they can negatively affect other peoples’ lives in a very harsh way.
Maybe, just maybe Justin Blackmon is leaving a drinking culture and will grow into a man in Jacksonville.
– Luke N. Sims
Disclaimer: My apologies if I have offended anybody that lives in Oklahoma or Montana. I do not intend this to be a commentary on the communities of those states. My perception of the actions in college towns in Montana and my lack of knowledge of Oklahoma’s culture ensure that my comments may not be accurate. If you do have some insight, please share it with me in the comments as I would love to learn more.
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims