James Stewart was arrested yesterday and was apparently charged with “impersonating a police officer”. I’ll tell the facts as we know them here, and then I’ll deliver a little bit of perspective.
According to news articles, Stewart and his passenger were out messing around and used blue-and-red police-style lights to pull over a car, then stopped next to the car to “yell something” at the driver, and the driver presented a badge showing that they were an off-duty police officer.
Stewart fled the scene, and his passenger threw the lights in his luggage, as he was about to take a flight from Orlando International Airport. The passenger, his longtime friend Rado (the guy featured in his Rick James videos and whatnot), was charged with tampering with evidence.
Stewart has posted bail and was released today.
James Stewart is guilty of doing something very stupid. But he’s not guilty of doing anything malicious. He wasn’t planning on harming anybody, and he didn’t harm anybody. People all over the internet are freaking out and making character judgments against James Stewart, and it’s simply unnecessary.
Here’s some perspective:
In June of 2003, motorcycling’s golden boy Travis Pastrana made headlines when he went out in his Chevrolet Corvette and, as I understand it, tried to do a jump on a back road near his home. He tried to jump from one hump in the road to another, and in order to do it, he head to be going extraordinarily fast.
He crashed his car, and his passenger, Matt Bigos, was paralyzed. Bigos still suffers from paralysis, but he’s a cyclist now and the last I checked he was doing much better. He can walk and cycle, but he’s definitely not “back to normal” or anything like that.
James Stewart has not won lately, and that’s a big part of why this is such a big deal to so many people. (Photo: CoxMX.com)
While people did come down on Pastrana for it, it quickly went away. And only a few years later, Pastrana had a television show doing stunts like that and making money doing it in The Nitro Circus on MTV.
James Stewart’s mistake here isn’t even in the same zip code as Pastrana’s. And on top of it, no one was hurt, except for Stewart’s pride.
I also don’t think many people would really care about this at all if Stewart had been winning. If he had won the last four races, then this happened, many of the people who are giving him crap for it would shrug and move on. But because he’s not winning right now, which is unusual for him, he is being crucified. People are saying that this behavior is why he’s not winning.
Well, how do we know that? How do we know he wasn’t pulling stupid pranks (and that’s all this seems to be) when he was dominating in 2009? Or any other year? We don’t know. We only know about this because of the horrible luck of pulling over a car carrying two Florida State Troopers and one sheriff’s deputy.
And obviously Stewart hasn’t had much in the way of luck lately out on the track, either.
So, while I think Stewart will freely admit that he did something incredibly stupid, I think we all need to look at our own lives and think of the stupid stuff we’ve done, because for many of us, the only difference is that we aren’t famous, and we weren’t caught.
James Stewart is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy most of the time, as you can see here in this photo from Jacksonville. He did something stupid, but not malicious. There’s a big difference. (Photo: CoxMX.com)