A Matter of Character

A Matter of Character January 20, 2012

Brian Downing is the father to a precious baby girl.

Brian Downing is the husband to his college sweetheart.

Brian Downing is a proud University of Alabama alum.

Brian Downing is the cousin to Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.

Brian Downing is a graduate of Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. (Russell County), which is just across the Hooch from where I grew up.

For the past ten years Brian Downing been employed by Hibbetts Sports, but on Wednesday, Brian Downing joined the list of millions of unemployed Americans.

Brian Downing was fired after a video showing him acting the fool went viral.

Brian Downing unzipped his breeches at a Krystal’s Restaurant in the French Quarter and used his wanger to dry-hump the ear of a passed out LSU fan.

In criminal terms, Brian Downing sexually-assaulted the unsuspecting and never-awake LSU fan. That he did so in the presence and to the cheers of dozens of Bama fans speaks none-the-better for any of them. That he did so in a public restaurant and was never stopped says nothing good about the management or employees of Krystal’s. They ought to be fired as well. They should be kicked out of the university. Every single one of them. Every employee. Every onlooker. Every one who posed for photos with the passed out man. Or that put trash on his head. Or poured water on him. Or took videos of him. They all deserve the head-shake-of-shame and a citation.

It was his cousin, Sheriff Taylor, who, after recognizing Brian Downing on that video, called his cousin and told him to get his sorry ass down to the jail, right this minute. When Downing arrived, Sheriff Taylor chawed on his ear a bit, and then sent him packing to New Orleans, where he was charged with felony sexual battery and a misdemeanor and booked into the Orleans Parrish jail. He’s out now after somebody posted his $10,000 bail. I’d wager his wife did it just so she could chaw on his butt herself.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing humorous about what Brian Downing did. It was shameful. It revealed an appalling disregard for humanity, and is a testament only to the ways in which we humans can debase ourselves and others.

That dozens of others stood by, some with cameras in hand, and cajoled him on as Brian Downing straddled a man who was completely unresponsive speaks all kinds of things about us as a people. None of it good.

That this took place following Alabama’s rout over LSU in the BCS Championships excuses nothing. Lots of fans enjoy their football without imbibing. Thousands of people will drink with moderation. And there are those, even the drunk ones, who would never, ever do what Brian Downing and the Bama fans at Krystal’s did that day.

This isn’t a matter of imbibing.

This is a matter of character.

Brian Downing has none.

And neither do any of the witnesses who cheered him on that day, or who failed to intervene on behalf of the man being sexually assaulted.

Sheriff Taylor, who has the character his cousin lacks, told reporter Tim Chitwood of my hometown paper, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, that there are lessons for all of us in Brian Downing’s behavior.

“I mean, you think? Is there a lesson here?” Taylor said wryly. “I mean, boy, you go thinking that you’re going to have a good time and that you’re going to enjoy and celebrate the university’s great win, and the next thing you know, you’re facing a potential sex-offender registration for the rest of your life.”

Taylor said it shouldn’t matter that someone’s photographing what you do in public: “It’s about not doing that to begin with. That’s the issue.”

Our moral character.

There was a time in this country when people who lacked moral character were our social outcasts. They were vilified, and rightly so, for their criminal behaviors or for acting the fool. Today we give them their own TV shows and/or make them Internet celebrities. I bet Brian Downing has already been approached by the porn and/or entertainment industry with a lucrative contract.

From this point on the name of Brian Downing ought to evoke the head-shake of shame.

But shamefully, we don’t do shame in America any longer.

That old Roman playwright Plautus, regarded for his sense of humor, once said, “I regard as lost that man who has lost his sense of shame.”

And what of the nation of people who has lost their sense of shame?


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  • Gloria

    You are absolutley right Karen. No excuse for this type of behavior – NONE!

    • Lynn_brewer


      Great piece and oh so true – did you happen to see the comments on some of the sites that his wife was standing next to him?

      • Sherwood8028

        You know it really troubles me that so many keep fixating on the one doing evil and now, another who supports him?

        I started to ask, why the article was even appropriate, but since it it overlooked what – to me, ought to be obvious, we seem to continue our interests in evil and not what is good and decent.

        Perhaps, someone might explain it to me.

  • Karen, I agree with you. As a new orleans resident, I am honestly happy that this was caught on tape. The number of tourists that come down here and act like this is appalling and some attention needs to be paid to it.

    However, please review the video. A Krystal employee does intervene as soon as they can see it. The counter is off to the left of the video, and with the number of people in there, it was not possible to see at first.

    I am tired of hearing tourists say that new orleans is a cesspit or garbage pile… because we take pride in our city… it is out of towners that act like this that cause the problems.

    • And regarding your comments about New Orleans, you are not reading anything of that sort in my post. I’ve been to New Orleans a number of times. I’ve been a guest of the folks at Fort Jackson and the literary community. I have always enjoyed myself in New Orleans, with the exception of the visit in the wake of Katrina where the folks at Fort Jackson took me on a tour of the devastation. This isn’t about New Orleans. Or about the University of Alabama. Or the Saints. This is about the lack of moral character and how shameful it is that our society has bought into a theology that says anything goes, there’s never any reason to act ashamed, as long as you are being entertained.

  • Butterfly2222

    What happened to people following the Golden Rule. I just can’t believe the direction that our society is going.

  • Jim Martin

    You are right. There is not a lot of shame left in this culture. This story illustrates it well. What is shameful is now seen as funny and is the stuff of too many reality shows.

    I suspect that some think that having a sense of shame reveals that a person is a prude. In fact, it may reflect that a person still has a grasp on what it means to be human (in the best sense of that word).

    • That’s a myth feed to us by the sex & entertainment industry that we’ve bought hook, line and sinker.

  • Sherwood8028

    While Brian was actively engaged in an unspeakable act, thousands if not millions of others were busily involved with caring for others, their nation or the world. We hear about the Brians, but far too little about these others.

    Therein is a very good explanation of why sin – sells!

    We remain – a perverse generation.

  • Sharon O

    wow that really is sad. He made a poor choice that will follow him the rest of his life and can you even imagine his wife’s feelings? Not only embarassed and deeply hurt but how does one deal with that type of image? I am glad he has to pay for that decision but also the whole room should pay too, as you said, on lookers are just as guilty. Wouldn’t that be a restaurant violation too?