The sentencing last month in Howard County, Maryland of illegal alien Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano to just 10 years in prison for the drunk driving deaths of two young people was a reminder of how that crime is still not taken seriously. Not only was the killer a previously arrested unlawful foreigner, he was massively drunk, with a blood alcohol level of four times the legal limit. [Illegal immigrant gets 10 years for killing two in crash, By Mike Santa Rita, Columbia Flier, May 29, 2008]
One of the victims was Corporal Brian Mathews, a Marine home on leave from Iraq. He was in a car stopped at an intersection with his date Jennifer Bower when Morales-Soriano`s car plowed into them on Thanksgiving night, 2006.
The case received more attention than many because of the unpleasant irony: a Marine had survived the carnage of Baghdad but was killed by a drunk driving illegal alien at home.
The killer could have received 20 years jail time but the judge decided to halve that. State`s Attorney Dario J. Broccolino preferred the longer sentence, saying "The drunk driver is often more dangerous than the hit man." (Man to Serve 10 Years for 2006 Crash That Killed 2, by Raymond McCaffrey, Washington Post, May 29, 2008)
At this point, let me make a disclaimer. As a boomer, I grew up in wild and wooly times, when following the Golden Mean meant ingesting a variety of legal and illegal substances. I can remember when it was no big thing to drive drunk, a practice that was accepted throughout society. Furthermore, as a frequenter of a cop bar in San Francisco, I know that the thin blue line has been wobbly itself not so long ago, when extreme drinking was sanctioned as a necessary stress-reliever in a very tough profession.
I therefore admire the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization for creating a complete reversal of attitude across society in very short order. There`s no other turnaround of public opinion that`s comparable. MADD`s campaign of showing the victims of drunk drivers was brilliant, and highly productive when combined with lobbying Congress and state legislatures for tougher laws.
Of course, it helped that Americans are reasonable people, because of their culture, and appeals to responsibility are effective.
There`s no question MADD`s efforts have saved many lives by changing behavior. People still drive drunk, but at lower levels and most people know that it is an irresponsible and dangerous practice. (Safer cars have helped greatly also, and for that we can thank Ralph Nader.)
For example, CBS reported in 2002, "The nation`s alcohol-related traffic death rate has dropped by more than half during the past 20 years, a government study shows." (Drunk Driving Death Rates Drop, But..., Dec. 18, 2002). The report also noted that regional differences in the incidence of alcohol-related traffic fatalities had been "widely disproportionate."
(For a general statistical picture of roadway deaths 1994-2006, see the government`s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). For alcohol-related data in 2006, see this chart, which shows 41 percent of crashes had an inebriation component. )
Knocking down drunk-driving deaths by half in 20 years is genuinely spectacular, and MADD deserves a lot of credit.
But like many other organizations that began with the best of intentions but went off track (from the Sierra Club to the churches), the Mothers have gotten full of themselves. And worse, they have forgotten their original goal of cutting down on drunk driving.
Founder Candy Lightner started the group in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk-driver who was given a minimal punishment for the death. But Lightner broke with the organization in 1985 because of its growing trend toward attacking all drinking. She was quoted in the Washington Times in August 2002 as saying, "It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever want or envisioned... I didn`t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving."
With its success and high profile in the do-gooder community, MADD has accrued a large bank account. A financial report for 2004 showed an income of $52,670,137. Maybe the message against drunk driving needs an ongoing educational campaign, since the behavior has not died out and is not likely to. But MADD now has to maintain its relevance to keep the millions rolling in.
And how best to accomplish a timely upgrade? The Mothers chose to embrace diversity, while doing a little two-step about the relation of culture to behavior.
On one hand, MADD`s list of official policies includes: "MADD supports continued efforts to eliminate racial profiling and enforce drunk driving and underage drinking laws effectively and without prejudice."
That`s probably vague enough to be accepted by La Raza. MADD`s 2002 Annual Report listed La Raza President Raul Yzaguirre as a member of its Board of Advisors.
On the other hand, the Mothers must grapple with very insistent cultural factors if they ever hope to reduce Hispanic drunk driving. Unlike Americans, who merely enjoy slugging down their beverages for the fun of it, Mexicans and their southern brethren cling to excess drinking as part of their identity. Males regard being a hard-drinking guy with a hollow leg as a macho attribute. The ideal of machismo promotes the idea that consuming a lot of alcohol equals masculinity.
Apparently quantity matters:
"Bobby Dunn, who counsels Spanish-speaking DWI convicts in Johnston and Wilson counties, said his clients are often young men far from home with money in their pockets for the first time. Many were too poor to have cars in Mexico, so they have little experience behind the wheel.
"They also see drinking as a way of showing their manhood.
"`The magic number is 12,` Dunn said, or `un doce` in Spanish. `If you can drink 12 beers, you`re a man.` [Hispanic DWIs rooted in immigrants` culture, By Marti Maguire and Kristin Collins, Charlotte News & Observer, April 1, 2007]
As a result of the macho-drinking-identity connection, trying to convince Hispanic men that they are too drunk to drive and should hand over their keys to a designated driver is a cultural loser. A real-life example was the death of 6-year-old Bryan Mendoza when his father insisted on driving the family home from shopping even though he was blotto drunk.
As an example, consider a 2003 special report from the Austin Statesman: A troubling trend: Hispanics and DWI. It opened with an eye-opener statistic: "Of 3,007 drunken driving arrests in 2002, 43 percent involved Hispanic men, even though they make up only about 11 percent of Austin`s driving population."
The article further noted a 2001 stat from California, that 48 percent of drunk driving arrests were of Latino males, although that group comprised only 21 percent of the state`s drivers that year.
And the prevalence is central, driven as it is by the heavy cultural baggage. In Mexico, drunk driving is normal. A few educational PSAs are not going are not going to solve this behavioral Gordian Knot. Mexicans are terrible drivers in general: the capital city racks up 1500 deaths to drivers and pedestrians yearly. Those from remote villages often didn`t drive at all in Mexico, and they certainly didn`t study driver ed.
Another measure of MADD`s bad faith is how it attacked the new group Mothers Against Illegal Aliens and threatened it with a lawsuit because of MAIA`s name: MADD warns off foe of illegal aliens (Washington Times, October 27, 2007).
Michelle Dallacroce, president of the Phoenix-based advocacy group, received a certified letter Oct. 10 stating that MADD owns the rights to the name "Mothers Against" and giving her 10 days to stop using it.
It`s not like there aren`t dozens if not hundreds, make that thousands, of groups of various sizes using that phrase—from Mothers Against Methamphetamine to Mothers Against Blogging (!) and Mothers Against the Draft.
Funny how MADD apparently has no problem with Mothers Against Jesus. But a group trying to protect America`s law and borders is a threat.
There`s no danger of anyone with an IQ over 60 getting the two Mothers Against organizations confused, so what`s behind this kabuki dance?
MADD very likely wants to reaffirm its diversity cred with its friends in La Raza et al. Hispanic enemies of American sovereignty certainly don`t want the message that their culture has a problem with safe and sober driving, because anyone can become the victim of a traffic crash caused by a drunk driving illegal alien. It`s one minority group that`s open to all.
In the same way that Mexicans are the worst possible immigrants overall (i.e., uneducated, too admiring of criminals, and corrupt to the point of bribing teachers for good grades), they are also the worst possible new drivers to have sharing our roads.
By not insisting that the border be closed to illegal Mexicans, MADD is essentially saying, "Welcome, new drunk drivers! Please sign up for our program."
MADD`s baseline message has been one of prevention: if more people are convinced not to drive drunk, then there will be fewer deaths in alcohol-related traffic accidents.
Therefore, if the Mothers genuinely cared about stopping the roadway carnage, they would have to insist on keeping out the thousands of new potential killers arriving daily.
But MADD doesn`t, and its integrity is questionable as a result. Border security and workplace enforcement are obviously part of any comprehensive program of preventing drunk driving deaths.
It`s a no-brainer.
MADD`s apparent view that alcohol-prone foreigners as fodder to be processed into responsible drivers some day is immoral. MADD tacitly accepts the collateral damage of dead Americans killed by drunk driving illegal aliens who haven`t yet received the Good News from MADD.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. After all this trash talk about alcohol, Brenda recalls Ben Franklin`s saying, "Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy."