Ryan Dunn: A "Good" or "Bad" Person? Life isn't that Simple

What defines a person's character?

Are there two broad categories of people-good and bad?

Do we employ a litmus test when judging people?

Last week, a reckless amount of alcohol and speed, led to a fiery automobile accident which claimed the lives of former Jackass star Ryan Dunn, as well as his friend Zachary Hartwell. Dunn was the driver who fatefully indulged in excess, Hartwell played the role of wrong place wrong time wingman.

Before the smoke had cleared, before all the "evidence" had been presented, the always "in session" jury that is the public, had began deliberating its verdict, its judgment on Dunn. Of course, as often is the case, the jury was hung, with opinions residing on opposite sides of the spectrum. Depending on who you ask, Dunn's death was either a tragedy, a sad case of a talented individual taken too early, or a hasty but fitting culmination to a irresponsibly led life which was perpetually flirting with disaster.

Well, who has it right?

Life isn't always so simple, so black and white. Ryan Dunn did live a life of excess, he did at times behave as though he was invincible, as though he was immune to the laws which man and nature have demanded we follow. He drove drunk, he drove fast, he paid the ultimate price. Zach Hartwell did as well.

But is Ryan Dunn a bad person?

To blindly lament his death, while not considering the circumstances under which it occurred, while not acknowledging the poor judgment which ultimately served as his fatal disease , is to erroneously allow these deaths to have happened in vain, is to condone, albeit indirectly, such mindlessly impuslive and reckless behavior.   

However-myopia can be just as dangerous as blindness. To lazily, and moreover self-righteously, condemn and vilify Ryan Dunn, is to celebrate a narrow minded view of the world, of people. Simply, it's wrong.

You know what else is wrong? Drinking and Driving. It puts one's self at risk, and worse-it put's the lives of others at risk. Speeding does the same. So does eating and driving. So does texting and driving.

Have you ever done any of those?

I have.

I'm not proud of it, nor would I dare make excuses for such behavior , for it is inarguably inexcusable.

But am I a bad person?

Do I deserve to die?

Apparently many would answer yes to both of those questions.

What defines Ryan Dunn?

Do we conveniently place him in either the "good" or "bad" person category?

Life isn't all or nothing.

Ryan Dunn was a flawed person, with a family, with a girlfriend, with friends-all of which he loved and loved him, who drank and drove, who made millions of people smile and laugh, who tragically killed his friend, and who from what I could see, was a pretty good guy.

Do you find that description hard to swallow? Too complicated-with attributes which seem incongruent, which don't fit neatly into the title of "good" or "bad"?

That's life.

Sympathize with their loved ones, recognize the tragedy.

Understand why it happened.

It doesn't have to be one or the other.

Be Good Friends,



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  • Without judging the person, I think we can all judge his judgment and actions by taking a look at where he is right now. Nuff said.

  • In reply to MySportsComplex:

    Andy, you're right. His judgement and actions on that day (and presumably on a number of days) leave little for debate. The question is does that define his person, who he was? I don't think it does. Good people make mistakes which are not premeditated, which are not malicious in intent; it's just sad some of those mistakes end up defining them-or killing them, or worse case scenario-killing someone innocent of any mistake at all.

  • In reply to MySportsComplex:

    I think it is just a sad story. Is what he did stupid and reckless? Yes. Does it make him a bad person? No. I really doubt that he got in that car with the intent on killing himself or his friend. I used to hear stories of how my uncle would drive down a winding back street with his friends blindfolded. Stupid of course but it didn't make him a bad guy. He could have killed himself or others but stupid actions don't equal deliberate actions. Another example is of a friend of mine who got drunk at his brothers house and they got into a fight. Somehow a gun got pulled out and they started wrestling with each other. The gun went off hitting my friend in the neck and killing him. Was the brother a bad person because he killed his own brother? No. It was just a bizzarly stupid moment in time that could not be taken back. I obviously did not know Ryan Dunn personally, but he seemed like a guy with a good heart that wanted to bring joy and laughter to those around him. That is how I chose to remember him.

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