"Men occasionally stumble over
the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has
---Sir Winston Churchill
A Short History of MADD
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has had one hell of a run. Their success rate is the envy of the activist community; their lobbying for tougher laws and public awareness is largely responsible (or so they will tell you) for reducing alcohol-related traffic deaths since 1982 by a whopping 37 percent. Okay, they give a little credit to the maturation of baby boomers, safer vehicles, airbags and mandatory seatbelt laws.
They have captured every flag they initially set out to capture. They got prison sentences for repeat DUI offenders. Flying in the face of the Constitution, they pressured the government into establishing sobriety checkpoints where you could be stopped by law enforcement officials with no probable cause whatsoever. They got the prosecutable definition of a DUI lowered to a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .12, then .1, and now, through a federal program that blackmails states by withholding highway funds, they are driving it down to .08. They fought hard and they won again and again.
So, are they ready to declare victory and pack it up, patting themselves on the back for a job well done?
Uh, no. The thing about large and powerful organizations (much like those transitional military juntas that end up hanging around for decades), once they get comfortable with the wealth and power, they are very reluctant to fade away. Its a natural instinct, among beasts and businesses alike, to try to survive as long as possible and, like a shark, MADD instinctively understands that once they stop moving forward, they will surely die.
So where are they moving
now? Ill tell you in a minute. First, lets backtrack twenty years.
Their intentions were goodat least in the beginning. MADD was founded in 1980 by California realtor Candy Lightner. That year, Lightners 13-year-old daughter Cari was killed by a drunk driver with four previous arrests for drunk driving, including one only two days earlier. She was angry, and rightfully so.
Through MADD, I found a way to deal with my anger, she wrote in her memoirs, a way to address a serious social problem that had taken my daughter from me.
Due considerably to Lightners aggressive campaigning and public appearances, MADD grew rapidly in its first five years, enjoying many successes, including raising the national drinking age from 18 to 21. By 1985, it had 364 chapters, 600,000 members, and a budget of $12.5 million.
Then something happened. In October of 1985, MADDs board of directors, largely salaried male executives at that point, fired Candy Lightner. They claimed she was making strange demands of the budget, she claimed it was a coup detat by radical prohibitionists who had infiltrated the organization. Disturbed by the shift from attacking drunk driving to attacking drinking in general, the founder of MADD has since joined the liquor lobby, declaring, I worry that the movement I helped create has lost direction. The .08 legislation ignores the real core of the problem. If we really want to save lives, lets go after the most dangerous drivers on the road.
Having their creator turn on them (much like Dr. Frankenstein turning on his monster when he realized hed put in a defective brain) sticks in MADDs craw to this day, but their working to fix it. When she was in power, Lightner was unequivocally hailed as the organizations founder. Since she went over to the other side, however, MADD has, in a very Orwellian way, been slowly editing her out of existence. Presently MADD says she was just the mouthiest of a group of Californian women who created the organization.
Lightners successor, Norma Phillips, was not so concerned with the defective brain of MADD so much as its body. She rapidly transformed MADD into a massive multi-layered bureaucracy, hiring legions of salaried state coordinators to watch over the volunteer-led chaptersand keep the money rolling in. The chapters were required to adopt standard bylaws and pay higher annual dues. Chapters that didnt follow the rules had their charters revoked and their bank accounts taken over by their state headquarters. This new order was put in place, MADD chairman and CEO Robert L. Beck explained in 1988, because they needed to fix a middle management problem.
No longer a decentralized grassroots movement, the new MADD structured itself along the lines of a corporation. To keep the machines cogs spinning, they needed lots of grease, and they didnt care how they got it, enlisting boiler rooms to raise money through aggressive telemarketing. The fact that only 28% of the donations they wrung out of the public was actually going to anti-drinking programs didnt bother them in the least. They shrugged off criticism from watchdog organizations like the National Charities Information Bureau, who said . . . organizations should be spending 60 percent on programs and no more than whats reasonable on fund-raising, and the Non Profit Times, who listed MADD as one of the highest spenders on fundraising and the lowest in funds spent on programs.
By 1998, MADD had an annual budget of $42 million. Pension plans were put in place. Salaries and benefits exceeded $9 million per year. The Frankenstein monster had kicked its creator out of the castle and had mutated into a powerful and ruthless giant, still somehow beloved by the local villagers. No longer led by volunteers, but rather salaried executives, it started approaching its goals in much the same way a corporation does. Where an idealist will go home after winning a war, a mercenary will prolong and seek out conflict, so long as he continues to get paid. But the money would only continue to roll in if the public perceived there was still a need for war, and a huge part of MADDs budget and manpower is dedicated to keeping that perception in place.
MADDs core statement, the one that gets the most attention, the one that is most repeated by the media, is this: Drunk drivers kill 16,000 Americans a year. Its an impressive statement. It gives the impression that crazed drunks are swarming the roads, seeking out innocent victims to plow into, laughing maniacally all the while. With so many homicidal maniacs loose, an organization like MADD seems entirely necessary and even noble.
The only problem is that
statement is a flat-out lie. And they know its a lie.
Lets examine the statement. First off, they get that statistic from their longtime co-conspirator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who puts it like this: 16,000 Americans each year are killed in alcohol-related accidents. MADD consciously took the term alcohol-related and twisted it into alcohol-caused.
What does alcohol related mean? It means someone involved in the accident had a measurable (not necessarily illegal) amount of alcohol in their system, or there was evidence of alcohol near the scene (an old beer can under the seat will do). They are not saying the someone with alcohol in their system caused the accident or was even driving or even inside a motor vehicle. But somehow it is always the drinkers fault. Sober drivers never get into accidents, so its gotta be the drinkers fault, right? Heres some of the methods they use to arrive at and further inflate the number:
1.) A measurable amount of
alcohol means anything above .00 percent, up to and including a sip of beer or cough
2.) Drivers impaired by drugs, be it aspirin, cough syrup, crack or heroin, are often counted as drunk drivers.
3.) If a pedestrian is involved and has a measurable amount of alcohol it is considered alcohol-related.
4.) If the accident is a sober drivers fault (i.e. a sober driver runs a red light and crashes into a driver who had a beer after work) it is alcohol-related.
5.) If the residual presence of alcohol is found (an empty beer can) it is considered alcohol related, even if tests prove no one has any alcohol in their systems.
6.) The NHTSA arbitrarily adds 9% to all the alcohol-related statistics it receives from the states. Why? Because they feel like it.
7.) If a passenger has alcohol in his system, it is considered alcohol related.
8.) To further inflate the numbers, The NHTSA just started using what they call the Multiple Imputation Method to inflate alcohol-related statistics even more. The method automatically assumes that anyone involved in an accident who was not tested for BAC (probably because they were obviously sober) could actually have been drunk, and the numbers are jacked up by a set percentage.
So, are drunk drivers responsible for 16 thousand deaths a year? No. Why doesnt MADD tell the truth? Because if the truth got out people would start to wonder what the hell MADD is screaming so hysterically about. Then the money would stop rolling in. And theyre not about to let that happen.
According to the painstaking research of Stephen Beck of Drinkers Against Mad Mothers, only 500 innocent Americans are killed each year by drunk drivers. As many Americans are killed in railway accidents each year. [Other researchers have put the number at about 2,500, still way below the NHTSA's 16,000 number.--getmadd.com]
Of course, one is too many, but is that number suitable justification for the mass hysteria sweeping the nation? Does it justify the one and half million arrests for drinking and driving each year?
According to the NHTSA website, for every one of those arrests there are from 772 to 2,000 incidents of impaired driving, says Beck. Using the low figure of 772 and a low number of arrests, simple math tells us that 1.5 million arrests times 772 incidents equals 1,158,000,000 arrestable, impaired driving incidents per year.
The billion-plus number of arrestable, impaired driving incidents per year (if they were sugar cubes) would form a line longer than 9,000 miles. The number of fatalities caused by drunken drivers, if also represented by sugar cubes, could be held in your hands.
How could a billion and half events of what MADD calls Americas most frequently committed violent crime happen each year?
Easy. Its all about definitions and thresholds. Make putting your hands in your pockets a crime and the numbers will be very impressive indeed. With the BACs low and getting lower, its very easy to rack up those numbers. An irony Beck brings to light is each year 3,000 people in jail on drinking and driving charges kill themselves while incarcerated. In other words, the number of suicides each year greatly outnumber the innocent deaths caused by drunken drivers.
Another of the Mothers most popular lies is: At .08 BAC, a driver is 16 times more likely to be involved in a crash than if he had consumed no alcohol at all. Former MADD President Karolyn Nunnallee goes on to say that many people are dangerously impaired at even .05 BAC. Thats the level most people will have after one beer on an empty stomach.
Where does MADD get those alleged facts? Only they seem to know. Neither is even remotely true. Dr. H. Laurence Ross, a professor at the University of New Mexico and author of Confronting Drunk Driving, says the potential of alcohol to impair drivers and cause accidents is directly proportionate to the amount consumed. According to Dr. Ross, adoption of the .08 standard has the potential to increase by 60 per cent the number of motorists arrested for drunk driving but without any concomitant decrease in either fatality or accident rates.
Accident statistics show
that impairment of driving ability seldom takes place until BAC levels exceed .10. A BAC
of .08 or less means there is little enough alcohol in his or her system that it is
extremely unlikely to appreciably[*] affect coordination, reaction times,
vision, or judgment in a normal person. Fewer deaths occur in accidents involving drivers
with BACs between .08 and .09 than involving those with BACs between .01 and .03, which is
So does lowering the BAC and putting more people in jail going to make the roads safer? No. The NHTSA tried to twist the figures but the federal governments in-built watchdog, the GAO (General Accounting Office) took them to task for their lies and they had to backtrack, finally admitting lowering the BAC in such states as North Carolina did not have any noticeable effect on alcohol-related crashes. It did succeed in putting a lot more Americans in jail for having a beer after work, however.
Consider it: a 120-pound woman with an average metabolism will reach the .08% BAC threshold if she drinks two six-ounce glasses of wine over a two-hour period. Two glasses of wine. Two hours. This is the modus operandi of MADDs violent criminal. In the states that have already passed .08 legislation, she will face arrest, fines, mandatory jail, loss of license and insurance rate increases of 200 to 300%.
MADD does confess its
very difficult to detect a driver who is at .08, as they probably wont be driving
any differently than a sober driver, so theyve put forth policy statements declaring
it will be necessary to put more roadblocks into place to catch these dangerous criminals.
Which is wholly ridiculous. Its the only legal circumstance I can think of where someone is arrested and imprisoned for presenting the mere possibility of committing a crime. Its akin to the police randomly stopping and testing lower-income people for hunger. If they are hungry, theyre arrested for shoplifting, because theres a possibility a poor hungry person will steal a loaf of bread from a nearby supermarket.
Another lie MADD likes to shill is they have no interest whatsoever in de facto prohibition of alcohol. Sift through the Official Position Statements page of their website, however, and youll think youve accidentally clicked into the Anti-Saloon Leagues homepage. They have broadened the scope of their anti-alcohol crusade to include: higher taxes on alcohol, reducing access to alcohol for the community in general, prohibition of drinking while playing golf, banning alcoholic drinks from having fancy or fun labels, the ability to sue bars, liquor stores, breweries and distilleries for damages sustained from one of their customers, a ban of alco-pops, forcing bars to close earlier and uniformly, a ban on happy hours, the curtailing of beer ads on the air and banning them entirely from billboards, and etcetera.
None of which has anything to do with driving, unless youre talking about golf carts. Making the roads safer is no longer their goal or function. Make no mistake; MADD is now marching toward one thing and one thing only: total prohibition of alcohol. Dont believe me? Check out these quotes:
consumed your first drink, youve lost that ability to make a sound judgment.
Penny Wagner, MADD Chapter President
Lowering the legal
[arrest] standard will be a deterrent for light drinkers as well as heavy drinkers. There
is no safe blood alcohol level, and for that reason, responsible drinking and driving
means no drinking and driving.
Catherine Prescott, former President, MADD
After drugs and tobacco, I think the next frontier will be-it has to be-alcohol. and While a lot of attention is paid to the serious problems of repeat offenders, we dont want to overlook the casual drinker. If you chose to drink, you should never drive. We will not tolerate drinking and driving-period.
Karolyn Nunnallee, while President of MADD
If .08% is good, .05%
is better. Thats where were headed, it doesnt mean that we should get
there all at once. But ultimately it should be .02%.
Steve Simon, Chairman, Minnesota State DUI Task Force
We may wind up in
this country going to zero tolerance, period.
U.S. Senator and MADD lackey Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
MADD has never had a
problem with the truth. Why would they when theyre able to ignore and twist it at
will with no one willing to call them on it. At some point they decided the truth was no
longer important, they believe their cause so grand, so righteous, so profitable, the
facts can be distorted as much as they like. If the public is deceived, well its for
their own damn ignorant good. They adopted the Marxist maxim that the end always justified
by the means.
Imagine a vigilante group created in the Old West to hunt down and hang horse thieves. Well call it the Cowboys Against Horse Thieves. The group was widely supported and grew very large and rich, but then something terrible happened: they started running out of horse thieves to hang. So they decided they would change what the public perceived to be a horse thief. Someone who stole a bicycle, they declared, was actually a horse thief. Someone who looked at someone elses horse funny was actually a thief and should be strung up. Hell, anyone who road a horse was probably in some way a horse thief. And as long as all these evil horse thieves are running around, the CAHT has stay in business, protecting the public.
How are they getting away with this sinister nonsense? Theyre powerful. Theyre a sacred cow with an aura of untouchability. What politician is going to call what the public perceives to be a well-meaning group of tragedy-stricken widows a gang of frauds and liars? Thats why the president of MADD is always selected from members whove had a loved one killed by a drunk driver. The perception of MADD as an organization of victims must be maintained.
Will MADD ever go away, even if they succeed in bringing on a dark new era of prohibition? Not if they can help it. The only thing we can hope for is, as their position becomes more and more radical, they will finally be revealed as not a well-meaning group of social advocates, but a fraudulent gang of liberty-squashing fascists.
When that happens well have a victory drink. Providing, of course, we know a reliable bootlegger.
* [appreciably is a subjective term. getMADD hopes the reader does not assume that a driver with a BAC of .08 has the same mental and physical state as one with a BAC of .01 or zero.]
Sobering and well researched article from "The Modern Drunkard," August, 2002.---www.drunkard.com
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"Permanent good can never
be the outcome of untruth."