Thanks to the personable young British Formula One racer, Lewis Hamilton [whose shenanigans in his Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 “road car” two days before the Australian Grand Prix cost him a slap-on-the-wrist fine of “just under 300 pounds” for “acting like a hoon”], those of us in the Northern Hemisphere have learned a new epithet, that we can hurl at “aggressive drivers” who set off our limbic system alarms with their risky moves. Mystery shrouds the derivation of this Antipodean term [which originally referred to any “young person who engages in loutish, antisocial behavior,” but has more recently become a “semi-official term” for street drag-racers, as in “Australia considers anti-hoon legislation”]. I have two theories. One, that “hoon” is merely a contraction of “hooligan.” Two, that it comes from the objective case of the Gaelic word toin [as in the Irish imprecation, Pog ma hoin], and so originally meant “ass.” [As in “Quit acting like a hoon, you silly ass!”] Not all that farfetched, considering that the First Wave of “immigrants” to the Land Downunder were predominantly Irish. [If you don’t get the quotation marks in the previous sentence, look up meaning 4 of “transportation” in Webster’s, innit.]
Anyway, here is Fionbharr [Finn to his friends], a San Francisco rescue, to keep not-so-solipsistic-Seamus company in the new place. If Finn were, indeed, writing a blog, it would seem to be coming right out of his hoin, now, do you see?
Back to Hamilton, though, who serves as Formula One’s “ambassador for [its] global road safety campaign and has given speeches in Westminster [Parliament] on the subject.” Through his lawyer, he issued a statement to the Australian court [and the rest of us], that he had suffered “embarrassment, humiliation and distress as a result of the episode.” We’re going to consider if Hamilton has truly “owned his wolf” in a moment; but here’s how it played in court. “Magistrate Clive Alsop said he would not convict the 25-year-old because he was ashamed and remorseful. However, he added that Hamilton’s behavior was unacceptable. ‘This isn’t about somebody’s character, this about somebody in a responsible position behaving like a hoon.'”
But, do yah see, now, Magistrate Alsop, in my book [well, blog], “character” is exactly what this is about? It’s all very well to acknowledge that having one’s car impounded two days before the Oz Grand Prix is “embarrassing, humiliating, and distressing.” That’s being sorry you were caught. It does not address the question: “What got up my nose, that I decided to violate the rules of the road [and the core values of the road safety campaign for which I am a high-profile spokesman]?” As with all the grabbed-from-the-headlines cases I cite, I realize that once the accused has “lawyered up,” the odds of such public self-disclosure lengthen considerably. But we, the mere readers of the story, can ask the up-your-nose question on their behalf [and vicariously, on ours]. For unless “out-of-character” behavior is understood, it is likely to recur.
As with the ponytaail-yanking soccer player in the post “In Hindsight,” perhaps the question does get asked and answered, in private, after the news media have cleared off. Having served a 2-game suspension, that young lady is back playing for the Lobos. Maybe she has done her “wolf work,” and has figured out how, in that aggressive sport, to avoid acting like a Red-Card-level hoon.
As for my boy Hamilton, he won the Belgian Grand Prix yesterday, by “driving safely and keeping out of trouble.” Even though Chris Rock laments that “There is no rehab for stupid,” there may be rehab for acting like a hoon. Let’s hope so, anyway, since we’ve all been there, if we’re honest with ourselves.