Yes, Ernest Hemingway, the rich really are different from us. They eat better, they drink better, they travel better, they look better, they even die better. But one thing they don't do better, apparently, is felonious property destruction with a motor vehicle.
This week, as you've heard, former UFC light-heavyweight champion, and certified rich person, Jon Jones got off with a slap on the wrist for his role in a hit-and-run last April in Albuquerque that left a pregnant woman injured. Jones had driven through a red light in a silver SUV and crashed into the woman before running off into the night. He quickly turned around, though, ran back, and pulled a large handful of cash out of the car and shoved the cash into his pants before running off again. Jones then went on the lam for 24 hours before finally turning himself in to police.
This is how you can do a hit-and-run when you're rich and secure in the knowledge that you can afford a good lawyer and that your fame will afford you some leeway in court: a rented SUV, indifference to the health of your victims, running off into the night, immediately returning to the scene of the crime to grab the money (the money!) you left behind. There was an almost sublime sense of entitlement to Jones' actions that night, entitlement that can only come from being rich and famous and young all at the same time.
On the other side of the MMA hit-and-run spectrum you have a guy like John Kerry. Kerry is a 26-year-old British journeyman mixed martial artist who has never headlined a UFC card, never appeared on an American nighttime talk show, and never made millions of dollars. That doesn't mean, however, that John Kerry can't crash vehicles into other vehicles if he wants to. Kerry may not be rich or famous like Jon Jones but, like Jones, he is a free man of the world, free to live and die and to fuck up his life in whatever way he sees fit, no matter how bizarre.
Earlier this month in the Bulgarian resort town of Sunny Beach, a vacationing Kerry took a bunch of anabolic steroids and other drugs and drank too much alcohol and proceeded, high as a kite, to hijack a forklift from a local warehouse. Before police could get to him, Kerry had crashed into two cars, spearing one with the fork before coming to a stop. Kerry wasn't done yet, though. He emerged from the forklift with a foot-long metal wrench and started threatening police before hitting himself repeatedly with it and running off. The police officers pursued him into a nearby gas station, where they evacuated staff and customers. Soon Kerry emerged from a kitchen holding two knives. Only then was a special police tactical unit able to "neutralize" Kerry and take him to a hospital to get treatment for his self-inflicted wrench wounds.
A hospital spokesman told the press that the combination of chemicals in Kerry's system had "effectively blown a fuse in his brain. It left him completely out of touch with reality."
Given Jon Jones' history with cocaine and alcohol, and the fact that he disappeared for a full day after his hit-and-run incident, there's no way to know the state of his brain or how in touch with reality he was that night, but it's safe to say he probably had a sense, no matter how far gone he was, of his place in the world and his ability to skate around whatever legal consequences might be coming his way. Not so much for Kerry, who crashed that forklift into those cars and banged that wrench into his head with the knowledge (however bleary) that fame and fortune would not be saving him. No, he went on his rampage with an air of proletarian, devil-may-care purity. Howling at the moon as an act of self-actualization: I am here. I am unapologetic. I won't be running off. I am alive. If Jon Jones' collapse of April 26 was the lashing out of a young man who, despite all the money and success in the world, still didn't know himself, John Kerry's rampage was something more poetic and self-aware: a yawp in the night, a refusal to go quietly, a small act of defiance, a claim to identify, a felonious thrill full of existential meaning.