Stupid Does Not Excuse Stupid

April 17, 2014

heal“Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

I think everyone’s heard that before. You broke your mom’s vase as a kid playing ball in the house, then lied about how it happened. Mom inevitably finds out, and you’re in worse trouble than you would have been had you fessed up.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

It seems pretty simple.

Yet, judging by the various news stories floating around my feed lately, that idea seems to be lost on more than a few people.

Like the video of the angry Floridian who, after tailgating and making rude gestures at a woman, speeds up, cuts her off, and crashes. Her response was to film the whole incident and get out of her vehicle, laughing and filming as his truck lay on the side of the road. (This video has since been marked “private” on YouTube.)

7ef1e582bebaf78872a185f86dfdb40dOr the video of an angry man who, when a women’s careless driving while texting almost causes an accident, gets out of his car, opens her car and wrestles her phone away, smashing it to the ground.

Or the latest viral video, a kid taking a video of himself as a train is about to pass closely behind him (dangerously close, as far as I can tell) who gets kicked in the head my the train engineer as they pass.

In every one of these situations, someone was doing something ill-advised. Stupid, even. Angry tailgating, texting while driving, hanging super close to a passing train; these were all moves of the not-too-bright.

But the reactions weren’t exactly brilliant acts either.

The woman filming the angry tailgater WHILE driving could have caused an accident.

The man smashing the texting woman’s phone could have led to an even more violent situation.

The engineer bothered by the kid standing too close to the tracks could have caused him serious injury.

It seems rather obvious that no one here was acting with any bit of wisdom, but what I found more disturbing were the amount of people in my social media feed cheering these people on, as if they were in the right.

“That kid needed a kick in the head!”

“Serves that tailgater right!”

“Can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to smash another driver’s phone!”

Is “two wrongs don’t make a right” antiquated because too many people don’t see their actions as wrong?

I mean, it seems obvious to me that in the moment the people involved didn’t think that they were wrong in their reactions, but what about all these people on the digital sidelines applauding?

Granted, I’m not saying that those comments are on par with the actions taken, but the prevalence of those attitudes are not comforting.

So, maybe we need a new saying.

Stupid does not excuse stupid.

Sure, you’re mad at someone else’s actions, and maybe rightly so. But does that justify what you do next?

Getting out of the car and yelling at some texting fool might make you feel better in that moment, but is it worth the risk you take? Does that person have rage issues? A gun? Is your moment of emotional release worth escalating the situation?

Can you imagine what would have happened if the train engineer’s kick to that guy’s head caused him to stumble toward the train? What if the kid died? What if the engineer’s pant leg got caught on something when he kicked the kid, pulling him off the train, injuring them both?

And sure, I’m a worrier, and I always worst-case a situation in my head, but I’m not being unrealistic. Here in Florida we have a guy on trial for murder for shooting another man in a movie theater. Why? An escalation over someone texting through the previews.

Maybe we all need a little reminder that just because it feels good, just because it MIGHT even feel like justice in the moment, answering stupid with stupid doesn’t benefit anyone. Neither does cheering it on.

...except in this case.

…except in this case.



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  • Reply Lauralynn Elliott April 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I agree with you 100%. For instance, I can understand the woman being angry because she got cut off, etc., and maybe feeling kind of vindicated for just a moment when his vehicle crashed (because we all have human feelings that we sometimes can’t help). But I think I would be out of my car and rushing to see if he was okay. Being angry with someone shouldn’t mean you don’t care what happens to them. You’re right. Stupid does not excuse stupid. Thank you for this post, because maybe it will make us all a little more mindful of others and what our actions can mean.

    • Reply Amber West April 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

      I agree – I can’t say that there wouldn’t be part of me thinking “that’s what happens when you drive like a crazy person” when the guy crashed. But I’d also be using my phone to dial 911, not film and laugh. (Admittedly, I would NOT get out of my car to check on the dude. If he was an angry driver and is okay enough to get out of the car, I’d be afraid he’d blame me for his crash and bad things would ensue.)

  • Reply MonaKarel April 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been too disgusted to write. And I LOVE the stupid fish. It’s so appropriate for some of the people I encounter. Happy days!

    • Reply Amber West April 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

      Thanks, Mona! (And welcome to the blog :))

  • Reply Par April 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Hear, hear!

    • Reply Pat April 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Pat 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca Enzor April 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    *applauds* So true!

  • Reply Brett Jonas (@BookSquirt) April 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    So true. My Dad has a similar saying: “You can’t fix stupid.” Stupid people are always going tk do stipid things. 🙂

    • Reply Amber West April 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Hopefully more people will think before they cheer on that behavior.

  • Reply Sonia G Medeiros April 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Two wrongs definitely do not make a right in my book. Neither do ends justify means…but that’s another rant LOL. I get the desire though. Of course, I’m a writer so I do have satisfying ways to get revenge without actually harming someone. I’m not admitting to anything though ;).

    BTW, I love the look of your blog! It’s been awhile since I’ve been by and things look pretty awesome. 😀

  • Reply Brian T. Ronk April 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I was thinking the same thing about the tailgating one. Did think the same about the recent train one until I saw this: http://imgur.com/gallery/xEqaUQA

    Looks like the conductor may have saved that kid’s life.

    • Reply Amber West April 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      I hope that’s what really happened with the engineer. What that doesn’t change is all the people cheering him on when they thought he was doing it for a less positive reason.

  • Reply tomwisk April 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    As the great Ron White said “You can’t fix stupid”

    • Reply Amber West April 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      I’d like to think you can…and I definitely think you can keep from being a part of it. 🙂

  • Reply karenmcfarland April 17, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Couldn’t agree more.Amber. 🙂

  • Reply The Regular Guy NYC April 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Awesomly well put! You pretty much said what many of us think! Stupid does not excuse stupid is so true!

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