The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten wrote a very funny column a couple weeks ago, in which he gets schnockered in a driving simulator and documents the results.
Recently, he discussed the process by which a column making light of drunk driving might get approved, and offered an interesting insight into the kinds of topics that are still a bridge too far, even in an age where presidential candidates admit to doing "a little blow."
When I first proposed the idea to [my editor] Tom the Butcher, he was very concerned about one possible result: What if I continued to ace the test, well into staggering drunkitude?
"Well," I said, "I can make that funny."
"I'm sure you can," he said, "but I will not publish it."
A spirited and enlightening conversation ensued, the details of which I cannot go into here for reasons of propriety. In essence I was arguing for the transcendence of truth, and the Butcher was arguing for the transcendence of moral and civic responsibility. Both arguments had merit, but he had rank.
Fortunately, Weingarten's driving after a bottle and a half of wine on no sleep and an empty stomach was…well, I'll let the test administrator tell it: "You ran off the road after a curve. You crashed into a bus. You killed a pedestrian. You had a frontal collision with a car driving in the opposite direction in the other lane. You killed a bicyclist. As the test ended, you were beginning a dangerous maneuver that might have caused a rollover if it had continued."
All's well that ends in a fiery crash, I always say. But seriously, would it have been a public service to spike the column if Weingarten had slept well, eaten a big dinner, and been more or less OK after a few drinks?
More on the ever-falling acceptable blood alcohol level here.