Update: So the man at the centre of this has been found not guilty of all charges. See story here.
As I said below, I still have some sympathy with the Senator who was acting in a way he thought best. However, perhaps the best course was to have called the police.
Decades ago, a national UK newspaper, The Express, ran a ‘Have a Go’ campaign – the idea was to encourage people who saw wrongdoing to do something about it.
It was probably before the word vigilantism was invented and it was designed, as far as I understand, to take a stand against petty crime. It was where the phrase ‘have a go hero’ was originated, at least in the UK.
You could not do it now. Human rights, armed police, armed criminals etc would be allow it. The courts would probably prosecute you for denying the rights of a fellow human being ….. but that’s another story.
So, was Senator Jeff Baron being a ‘have a go hero’ when he allegedly tackled a person he believed to be too drunk to drive? Or was he overstepping the mark and doing what his former colleagues should be doing?
I have some sympathy with the Senator. He apparently saw a person he believed to be intoxicated get into a car and attempt to drive. Readers of this blog will know my thoughts on road safety and DUI.
Presumably, he acted out of emotion and perhaps an ingrained sense of duty (he was a police officer once.) But judging by media reports, it all got a bit ugly and very public – in the parking lot of a popular bar with local security personnel and the duty bar manager as well as the alleged drink driver all involved.
So was he right to confront someone he believed to be a drunk driver and did he set a good example? Was he right to ‘have a go’?
Reluctantly, I have to come to the conclusion that the answer is no, at least not in the way he did it. He should have called the police, reported his suspicions and let them deal with it. (And I know what the majority of the people reading this will say. Again, that is another story.)
He may also have raised his suspicions with the bar staff and asked them to stop serving the person. He might also have raised it with the security staff. He might also have put out a press release at a later date explaining what he saw and condemning it.
But above all, the Senator is there is put laws in place. He is not there to personally enforce them. While his actions may have been well-intentioned, they were misplaced. It was not a time to ‘have a go’.
Mr Baron, I know you read this blog. I’d like to hear your thoughts.