Darwin gets another one.
November 13, 2000 10:49 PM   Subscribe

Darwin gets another one. And the average intelligence of the human race rises slightly.
posted by Steven Den Beste (40 comments total)
Speaking of which, can we lace every 50th cigarette with cyanide? Smokers want to die, let's put a winner in every carton!
posted by anildash at 10:54 PM on November 13, 2000

that's not actually funny.

re: drinking to death on the 21st bday -- that is so very sad and it could have happened to almost any one of us. you know it. i feel bad for him, for his family, and for his poor friends who are probably blaming themselves for not realizing how far gone he was. there is no reason to find joy in this type of tragedy. shame on you.
posted by palegirl at 11:36 PM on November 13, 2000

You know, a Darwin award usual entails an unusual death. Binge drinking is actually a frequent cause of death on college campuses and one surprisingly not publicized. As a college student, I have been witness and a participant in more than enough bingeing occasions to realize how lethal a situation can turn, so quickly.
posted by Zosia Blue at 11:50 PM on November 13, 2000

I've had my own problems with alchohol. It's not that simple. There is a point where you have to allow for people to learn from their mistakes. Of course, having friends look out for you helps. If friends keep giving you booze, shit like this can happen. I really hope I never get to a point where I make light of someone dieing like this. Life can leave us too quickly sometimes.

There was a point in my life where I was certain I was going to die. It puts things into perspective. I wish more people could live a life where each moment felt life a special gift.

Banality is quite different from finality.
posted by john at 12:15 AM on November 14, 2000

The article doesn't mention whether or not he had any kids.
You only get a Darwin award if you die before breeding.
posted by straight at 5:59 AM on November 14, 2000

re: drinking to death on the 21st bday -- that is so very sad and it could have happened to almost any one of us. you know it.

Yeah, I remember that time a gang of thugs held me down and forced me to down a shot. And then another. And another. Until I had downed 20. It really could happen to any of us, if we're dumb enough to pour a toxin down our throats in massive quantities.
posted by anildash at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2000

My God, the level of compassion and maturity expressed by Steven and Anildash are astounding. I'm glad you guys could drag yourselves away from pulling the wings off flies and torturing kittens to grace us with your witty and enlightening comments.
posted by Doug at 9:34 AM on November 14, 2000

Yeah, they seem like weird guys.
posted by Mocata at 10:17 AM on November 14, 2000

A binge-drinking death is admittedly stupid, but also sad. Poking fun at it is admittedly stupid, but also sad.
posted by highindustrial at 10:37 AM on November 14, 2000

darwin moves in mysterious ways.
posted by quonsar at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2000

"It could have happened to almost any one of us"? Is it really true that most people are dumb enough to drink to such wretched excess? That's a sobering thought, no pun intended.

Like some others here, I find it pretty hard to feel compassion toward people who kill themselves through their own stupidity. I mean, it reads as if it was this guy's own idea to try to down 21 shots, and by definition he was sober when he started. That's just dumb.
posted by kindall at 10:46 AM on November 14, 2000

[Doug] the level of compassion and maturity expressed by Steven and Anildash are astounding.

Oh, c'mon, the guy drank 20 shots of hard liquor in 10 minutes. That's like pointing a loaded gun at your head, pulling the trigger, and expecting to survive. Yeah, it's pretty stupid, and I don't see why pointing that out somehow shows a lack of compassion.
posted by daveadams at 10:50 AM on November 14, 2000

You are right, anytime any kid does something stupid we should be thankful when they die.

No one ever learns from their mistakes after all.
posted by john at 11:09 AM on November 14, 2000

Dave, you honestly don't see how mocking a dead person for making a mistake somehow shows a lack of compassion? Or think it strange that Steven thought this was so astoundingly interesting, that it was so funny that this person died, that he posted it here with a smarmy comment for thousands of people to see?

And then you have Anildash, who suggest poisoning cigarettes because, ya know, smokers want to die.

posted by Doug at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2000

Another moral lesson from Steven, the guy who reminds us that "prostate cancer is no laughing matter." Apparently nice distinctions can be drawn between types of tragedy, though. Or maybe it's just easier to laugh at people who, since they're dead, can't hit back.

This kid Kim was a student in a course I teach (not my section, someone else's). He wasn't stupid. He wasn't, in fact, much of a drinker, and probably didn't have enough experience with drinking to know how dangerous a thing he was doing. What he was was a kid, insecure and a little too eager for the approbation of his peers. You can laugh at him, or pity him, but you should reserve some anger for the "friends" who goaded him into doing it. Nobody looks forward to drinking 20 shots in 10 minutes--"Oh boy, can't wait to see how sick I get!"--they do it because their friends are sitting around chanting "Go! Go! Go!"

I teach college freshmen--some of them this kid's friends--and have ample opportunity to see how poor their judgment is and how little real life experience they have. I talked to my students and tried to convice them that I would be sad if any of them died. They were shocked, and spooked, and of course some of them were laughing nervously about the whole thing. But a lot of them aren't honestly sure what the problem is. I pray that none of them will ever be the dumbasses that pour 20 shots for a friend and then drag him to the back bedroom to die.

I can't deny that this is evolution in action. But to think that much stupidity was eliminated from the gene pool because a kid died is a mistake. The genuinely, deeply, dangerously stupid people are still alive and wondering why he had the bad grace to die at *their* party. Case in point: one of Kim's friends, when asked about this, said: "I think students do look out for other students, but this was a party. Everyone was having fun, and it was a complete accident." I can't help thinking Darwin's aim was a little off.

posted by rodii at 11:51 AM on November 14, 2000

I mourn when someone dies before their time because of mischance (e.g. Ernie Kovacs) or undeserved violence (John Lennon) or disease (Jim Henson). Had George Harrison been murdered I would have mourned for him, and I am very glad that the murder attempt failed.

I cried for both Lennon and Henson. (I was too young for Kovacs.) Neither should have died when they did. Neither deserved the death they got. And I cried for Zappa.

When someone is old and has lived a full and satisfactory life before they die, I don't feel much pain. When someone like Friz Freleng died (at age 98) it's hard to be really sad. He had a full and productive life and got more out of it (and left more behind) than almost any of us will. It was too bad, but it wasn't really a tragedy.

When I hear of someone who does something spectactularly stupid and dies because of it, I have no sympathy at all. Another example is the older woman who died jumping off of El Capitan with a borrowed parachute which didn't open. (All true skydivers know this: You always pack your own chute. She should have unpacked and repacked the chute before using it.) I felt extreme sympathy and sorrow for her husband who had to watch his wife die that way, but I feel no sympathy at all for her.

In a sense, every death is a tragedy. But in a different sense, every death is inevitable. All of us will die, but not in the same way. I do believe that deaths deserve different degrees of sympathy and sorrow and mourning. If someone invites death, they shouldn't be surprised if he comes calling. Each of us is responsible for ourselves. If we take stupid chances, we should expect tragic results.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:33 PM on November 14, 2000

And posting mean-spirited barbs at dead kids comes in where, exactly, Steven?
posted by Doug at 1:06 PM on November 14, 2000

It's so easy to be judge and jury, Steven.

A very good post, rodii. Kids, (especially male ones) around 21 are very lucky if they don't die from doing something stupid. Alcohol and immaturity are often factors.

I would recommend everyone laughing should try looking back over their own lives. The one who can claim to have never done a stupid or risky action should cast the first stone.
posted by lagado at 3:39 PM on November 14, 2000

I was 21 not too long ago, and I don't consider myself terribly luck to have lived beyond it. In fact, I'd consider it being terribly unlucky to not have lived beyond that.

Actually, I doubt I'd be considering much at all.

People react to different deaths in different ways. While I agree posting a thread calling the kid stupid here was most certainly not someting that was thought through very well (it's almost certain to get the poster some flak) going completely opposite isn't a great thing either.

If you were to call a 21 year old guy a kid, he'd probably take serious issue with that. At 21, regardless of whether or not a person's in college, or living with their parents, or working or any combination of themeselves, that person is an adult. Ask any court of law in North America.

If this "kid" had turned around and killed someone there aren't many people who would plead for mercy on his behalf, but because he did something exceedingly stupid, this person deserves our respect?

The people who deserve our respect are the people around him, who knew him, who miss him, whose daily lives are affected by this, not this chuckle-headed dead guy.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry for anybody who knew him, who cared about him, and for anybody who feels sorry for him. If 21 year olds want the respect an responsibility of being an adult - and believe me, they do - then they have to act with a degree of responsiblity and respect themselves and others.

People know that alcohol is deadly. I grew up in the same time-period as he did, and I've seen more than my fair share of educational films and public service announcements about the dangers of alcohol.
posted by cCranium at 4:18 PM on November 14, 2000

Ok, eCranium, don't feel sorry for the guy. But I just can't help but find this a bit disturbing. I mean, first, and unfortunately, lots of people die from alcohol poisoning. That this story was seen as newsworthy I highly doubt. It was definately intented to poke fun at the dumb guy who drank too much. It's kind of disturbing that people use this kind of stuff to feel good about themselves. And weird thar they would do so in public.
posted by Doug at 5:54 PM on November 14, 2000

hi guys. i'm 21. i know a ton of 21 year olds, and i've been to a ton of 21st birthday parties lately -- it always involves the birthday boy [or girl] drinking to excess. it's the way things are done in our society. turn 21, and spend the night booting in the WC. [although there are exceptions to the rule -- i'm one.]
posted by palegirl at 6:24 PM on November 14, 2000

Is it possible to change your MeFi login name to "Mud"?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:58 PM on November 14, 2000


Who said anything about respect? You're welcome to laugh at him, mourn him, dismiss him, whatever. I'm sure there'll be more to your response, though, than just firing up Metafilter so you can say "hey, lookit the retard!" in front of all the other smart kids, which is what this item amounted to.

Some poor schmuck did a clueless thing and paid in the extreme for it. People do that every day. Some people do it fast, some slow. Ha ha, well fuck them, they "invited death."
Go, Darwin, go!


(No offense about the "kids" thing. I hear what you're saying. My experience as a teacher of college students tells me that they're not very different than 16-year-olds in the aggregate, and, at least at this place (Michigan), they don't have much in the way of life experience outside studying and partying. But I realize they don't feel 16--and I realize they're not all the same. I'm not trying to belittle anyone, or to give poor dead Kim a pass on responsibility.)
posted by rodii at 8:01 PM on November 14, 2000

(Oops, I'm being waay too harsh here. I apologize.)
posted by rodii at 8:07 PM on November 14, 2000

I think the thing that got him was those 21 shots he had a few hours prior to the celebration - to see if he really could do it.

(just feedin' the fire...)
posted by paul at 8:10 PM on November 14, 2000

I just thought it was funny they were taliking about how an "engineering major" died.

but the kids alright right?
posted by Satapher at 8:33 PM on November 14, 2000

I was 21 not too long ago, and I don't consider myself terribly luck to have lived beyond it. In fact, I'd consider it being terribly unlucky to not have lived beyond that.

sure, of course, all the best and everything. i'm only talking about statistics and young male adults on average. i can personally vouch for doing a few stupid things so maybe i filled your quota.

i'll bet you still pay more for your car insurance though ;-j
posted by lagado at 9:18 PM on November 14, 2000

i hate to make personal attacks here, but steven seems to post links and comments in an attempt to make him look smarter than the rest. this one takes the cake--not only pompous but heartless.
posted by brittney at 9:51 PM on November 14, 2000

This isn't the first time SDB has made a seemingly heartless comment. Doesn't always put himself in the other person's shoes.
posted by xiffix at 4:36 AM on November 15, 2000

Dammit kids, personal attacks are unnecessary. If you have a problem with Steven, take it outside of MeFi.

Where the hell's the bouncer when you need him (or for the politically correct:her)?
posted by Avogadro at 5:57 AM on November 15, 2000

I didn't mean to imply that I've never done anything stupid. I gladly admit my humanity. The loaded gun analogy made above is almost perfect for this situation.

At some point, this person decided to take the 21 years of life experience he had, and the years of being told that alcohol is a drug, alcohol can kill you, and throw it all out the window, saying fuck the consequences.

rodii: I don't think you're being harsh at all. You have more right than anyone else to argue for sympathy for the guy, his death has directly affected your life, to a far greater degree than anyone else in who has posted in this thread.

And I know no one means offense when referring to him as a kid, I'd probably do the same thing, but regardless of his innocence and inexperience, he knew that alchohol is a drug, and in any other situation he'd be considered an adult.

And in defense of Steven, while he's made many a comment or post I disagree with, he's also made many a comment or post that I do agree with. He's a prolific linker, and he shares things he finds interesting, amusing, whatever with us, and I certainly don't want him to stop.

There's 2000 of us here. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you're guaranteed to find viewpoints and opinions and stories that you couldn't care less about or that you vehemently oppose. That difference is what makes MeFi such a great place to hang out.

I've been exposed to far more viewpoints and thoughts and opinions since I've been reading MeFi then in any of the years I spent playing around on Usenet ('cept maybe alt.folklore.urban, there was lots of wacky stuff there :-).

That disparity should be encouraged, and we should all do our damndest to argue our points, but that can all be done without personal attacks. If you don't like someone, that's fine, but disagree with a purpose.

Proove them wrong, don't browbeat them and make them go away. If everyone who disagrees leaves, then the great conversations die, and that's no fun at all.

(eep. Apologies for the Blog Nicely screed. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:22 AM on November 15, 2000

xiffix: Are you sure that was the post you wanted to link to? What is heartless about a 10 year old pledging to come to the aid of people who are being robbed or murdered?
I always read and follow Steven's links and comments, he is one of the most interesting people here. He hates Mac's without reason and is occasionally off color, so much the better.
I don't feel anything about the dead kid. He made his "mistake", and he paid for it. A few months back there was a thread about some kids who beat a delivery man to death with a brick to steal food. I was supposed to believe that was a "mistake" too. People are always saying that any of us could make these mistakes. These are not mistakes, they are deliberate actions that end in death. At 21 years old I expect everyone to have a reasonable knowledge of what can kill them, and what actions they take that might kill others. There is a minimum standard we need to expect from each other. If that kid had not killed himself, If he stumbled out and drove around and killed someone else, I would consider it murder. I consider this suicide.
This story reminds me of another I know about a teen who snuck into the polar bear cage at the zoo. His friends said his dying words were "RUN! It's biting me hard". Still cracks me up. I could not have made any of these mistakes, because I have never been so careless. Another story, my mother always told me growing up, "Never kill yourself, everybody will laugh at you if you do." I have observed that my mother was correct.
posted by thirteen at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2000

You don't learn not to play with fire until you get burned. And you don't learn to respect the effects of alcohol until you puke your guts out after a teenage bender. That's why I've said here a few times that by treating alcohol as taboo, and by setting the age limit to 21, you create an atmosphere that encourages ridiculous overindulgence like this.

But I'd like to know the number of deaths from alcohol poisoning in France, Spain, or Italy, where teenagers drink in moderation with their parents. I'd imagine it's a fraction of that in the UK, USA and northern Europe.
posted by holgate at 9:07 AM on November 15, 2000

I suppose this has a lot to do with some people being closer to certain issues then others. If you are at all sensitive to this, it's natural to begin to think ill of those that make light of such things. It's a reaction on the gut level.

I generally have had the perception that stupid people killing themselves can be humorous. I've visited the Darwin awards site many times. I may just differ in the degree of stupidity involved. I can imagine that such a thing would end up making me seem cruel if held to a different situation.

The mud does wash off eventually.
posted by john at 11:14 AM on November 15, 2000

yes, I have a few of them etched into my remaining neurons.
posted by lagado at 2:52 PM on November 15, 2000

shoulda used preview:

And you don't learn to respect the effects of alcohol until you puke your guts out after a teenage bender.

yes, I have a few of them etched into my remaining neurons.
posted by lagado at 2:53 PM on November 15, 2000

Being prolific and a contrarian doesn't necessarily make you interesting.
posted by highindustrial at 3:19 AM on November 16, 2000

Being prolific and a contrarian doesn't make someone interesting to you, highindustrial. Different strokes and all. :-)
posted by cCranium at 5:32 AM on November 16, 2000

Fair enough and true, cCranium. :)
posted by highindustrial at 7:34 AM on November 16, 2000

of course, I have to defend the interesting factor of being prolific and contrarian, 'cause, well, I am. :-) So it's definetely a biased argument.
posted by cCranium at 8:12 AM on November 16, 2000

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