Kyle Johnson
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Bad Ohio State Fans Defend Bad, Drunk-Driving Quarterback

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I think that we can approach something like a universal agreement that driving under the influence of alcohol is an indefensible thing to do—it’s dangerous, irresponsible, reckless, inconsiderate, etc. It’s not quite a universal agreement, however, because there exists a pocket of people willing to defend drunk drivers—the caveat being that the drunk driver is Ohio State starting quarterback J.T. Barrett and the defenders are members of the most rational and tolerable fan base in all of sports.

Barrett, 20, was arrested on Friday, October 30 after attempting to avoid a DUI checkpoint near Ohio State campus. He subsequently failed a breathalyzer test by reportedly blowing a 0.099. Barrett was not only drinking under age, but he was well over the legal limit for an adult (.08) and almost five times over the legal limit for underage drivers (.02). The result: a harsh, harsh one-game suspension and probably at least a little bit of tongue-clucking. Oh, and he gave up some of his scholarship, meaning he’ll have to pay for summer school next year. That’s really going to weigh him down whenever he signs his multi-million-dollar NFL contract the following year, huh?

One would think that this whole fiasco would be enough to bring the full fury of a betrayed fan base down on his head, particularly with Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller—both of whom have proven their mettle as starters—waiting in the wings. One would be wrong in this assumption because, as I stated, Ohio State fans are among the most lucid people you’ll ever meet.

For evidence of this lucidity, one need only look at the Sunday edition of the Columbus Dispatch’s “The Mailbox,” where some incredibly intelligent people had some scorching hot takes on the public perception and punishment of J.T. Barrett. Intelligent people like James Schulze of Lewis Center:

Editor: First of all, any negative talk about J.T. Barrett is that crap that comes from the south end of a north-facing male bovine. I am old enough not to give much for political correctness.

Second, this happened on an off weekend when athletes can at least be students for a weekend and relax and have fun.

Third, underage drinking and a blood-alcohol content threshold of 0.08 are artificial limits set by a cowardly Ohio General Assembly more interested in federal highway funds than what was right for Ohio.

J.T. did not rob, steal, murder, lie, cheat, deceive or any other low-life actions. He was enjoying time off. For someone who spends that much time in the limelight, can they not be given a little time to themselves?

From what I hear from people in the know, J.T. and his teammate Cardale Jones are both stand-up people. I would trust either with watching my grandkids all the way up to quarterbacking my team to a national championship.

As for this issue, it is a mountain made from a molehill. A one-game suspension is all it is and all it needs to be. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you’ve returned from fetching the salve you no doubt needed after reading that hot take, let’s summarize: saying negative things about a person who sees fit to drive drunk is the result of political correctness, because all athletes get drunk and drive on weekends, and the real villain here is the Ohio General Assembly somehow because the legal drinking age is an “artificial limit.” Thoughts? This guy sure has ’em!

But wait, there’s more! What does B. Belinky (known to their friends as “Blinky,” no doubt) have to say about the matter:

Ray: I can’t believe local law enforcement arrested J.T. Barrett for slightly over 0.08. There was no apparent danger, no boisterous or risky behavior, no bad driving reported. And how accurate is a breathalyzer, anyway, when you’re right at the minimum level?

Besides, some think checkpoints aren’t constitutionally legitimate, as they impinge on one’s right to privacy.

Whether he’s a football player or just another college kid, law enforcement needs to use better judgment. Fight real crime and arrest clear alcohol overages, not the marginal ones!

Let’s address Blinky in a few short bullet points:

  • J.T. Barrett is a minor, so what he blew was a bit more than “slightly” over the legal limit
  • Even if he were an adult, a difference of .02 is not really all that slight when it comes to BAC
  • While I’m no expert on breathalyzer functionality, I’m fairly certain that the minimum level would be set at .00 BAC in almost all models
  • With relation to the notion of “risky behavior”: what, precisely, is riskier than operating a vehicle with a BAC nearly five times the legal limit? And, for that matter, since when was “boisterous…behavior” an offense worthy of arrest?
  • Some do indeed think that checkpoints are not entirely ethical; however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 25 years ago that a “degree of intrusion” presented by these checkpoints is outweighed by the gravity of drunk driving (see Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz), and the state of Ohio reaffirmed the legality of checkpoints with State v. Bauer (1994)
  • Driving drunk is a real crime with pretty significant consequences. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 12,480 alcohol-related crashes in the state of Ohio in 2014, of which 7,160 resulted in property damage, 5,049 resulted in injury, and 271 resulted in at least one fatality

To be fair to BUCKEYE NATION™, two other letters to the editor ostensibly called the one-game punishment doled out to Barrett a joke, with Jason Homorody hitting the nail on the head: “OVI is a serious crime. It is like firing a gun in a crowded area. You might just barely hit someone with a bullet, you might kill someone, or the bullet may hit no one.”

One other, Joseph L. Williams, wondered which was the greatest threat to safety between Barrett driving drunk or people texting and driving. The correct answer: they’re both incredibly stupid things to do.

It was announced earlier today that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will allow Barrett to start against Illinois under one condition and one condition only: that he has a good week of practice! Way to take your player to task, coach! Justice has been served.

News Source: Columbus Dispatch (Via: Deadspin)