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.)
Or 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.