Out of my cold dead ramparts...
December 20, 2006 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Washington town has long tradition of firing cannon shots during football games. A cannon misfire maims student Brent Karch's leg. Folksy, compassionate response from townspeople? "Take away our cannon, and we'll "make sure the other gets blown off."
posted by krippledkonscious (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Partial Law at 6:24 PM on December 20, 2006

Wow. People suck.
posted by languagehat at 6:25 PM on December 20, 2006

You can play with your toy until it starts hurting people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 PM on December 20, 2006

I was there during the Texas A&M bonfire tragedy.
Rationally, they haven't held a bonfire again (except those that are not officially endorsed. Fix the problem, and you might continue the tradition. At this point, A&M hasn't claimed to fix it.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:34 PM on December 20, 2006

I hate that extra " in the post. And the dude's name is Brett, not Brent, dumbass!

posted by krippledkonscious at 6:44 PM on December 20, 2006

</self flagellation>
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:46 PM on December 20, 2006

I must have missed the part where one of the kids said, "Hey y'all, watch this."
posted by peeedro at 6:48 PM on December 20, 2006

"Callers and visitors told Karch they would 'make sure his other leg got blown off,' and that 'there would be retaliation' if the family cooperated in an investigation that could end the cannon tradition....Within seconds, medics and senior officers sprinted to his side. The team of emergency medical technicians standing by in the event of a football injury rushed Karch into a waiting ambulance.

The priority on the playing field, however, was the game, which didn't stop as Karch was carried off the sidelines to an ambulance, witnesses said."

Sounds like a great community. What are they thinking? The liability issues should preclude the practice to continue.
posted by ericb at 6:55 PM on December 20, 2006

Snarkfilter: Check out the (since removed) Wikipedia entry for Snohomish High School that was added following the incident.

posted by krippledkonscious at 6:59 PM on December 20, 2006

I vote they get the old cannon back, and all the town members have to take turns lighting it at games. Maybe if a few more of the idiots get blown up they'll finally quit with their stupid tradition.
posted by jacalata at 7:05 PM on December 20, 2006

kamikazegopher--I don't really see what parallel you are trying to draw. A&M reacted very strongly to the collapse of the bonfire and the 12 that lost their lives are very muchly honored--there was never any backlash against them, even though the bonfire tradition has been indefinately suspended. In fact, I would hazard nothing has ever brought the A&M community together like the bonfire tradegy did.

Also, as far as off-campus bonfire goes, it's held with the mentality that it keeps the tradition alive (as well as all of the sub-traditions) for when the University is ready to bring it back to A&M (though considering liability issues and the still-unresolved lawsuits over the collapse, this seems pretty unlikely, at least for the time being).

Personally, I think there's a big difference between 12 people being tragically killed, and a highschooler getting his leg injured.
posted by internet!Hannah at 7:05 PM on December 20, 2006

I thought only people in the South, where I live, are idiots like this. It makes me feel good to think that people are this small-minded, petty, and vicious everywhere else.
posted by jayder at 7:06 PM on December 20, 2006

"The Target Practice Parade is in the process of being planned to commemorate the October 6th incident. This parade will feature burning effigies of the student, his leg, and his family. The parade will throw out KY jelly to the children, and incorporate a hundred goat processional."
(from that wikipedia entry)
posted by peacay at 7:08 PM on December 20, 2006

This simply adds to the tradition -- now, whenever the home team scores, they must maim a student.
posted by boo_radley at 7:18 PM on December 20, 2006

Stupid is as stupid does.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:29 PM on December 20, 2006

I live nearish to Snohomish. I'm actually slightly surprised that it's as "Friday Night Lights" as it apparently is out there.

The whole "get hyper-enthusiatic about high school sports if you're older than 17" has always eluded me, but then again there are people my age (old) who still have stickers for their college on their cars...dunno. Glory days...

(Mind, I guess I would get to see 15, 16, and 17 year old girls wiggling saucily on the sidelines in skimpy outfits if I went to a game at the local high school. Hmm. Are they "sex objects" or "children?" I'm so confused.*)

* A good friend was a cheerleader in her high school. The had their names embroidered on their uniforms...on their butts. That's pretty much the answer right there (not that I wouldn't have all the names memorized fairly quickly, but, still, c'mon).
posted by maxwelton at 7:53 PM on December 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Reminds me a bit of "Jock-o-rama" by the Dead Kennedys (and alas, this exemplifies the sort of reason I despise jocks and this sort of war/game culture):
The star quarterback lies injured
Unconscious on the football field
Looks like his neck's been broken
Seems to happen somewhere every year

His mom and dad clutch themselves and cry
Their favorite son will never walk again
Coach says, "That boy gave a hundred percent
What spirit
What a man"

But who cares?
Games over-Let's go get wasted man
To the 7-11, to the liquor store
Let's party all night and party some more
posted by symbioid at 8:01 PM on December 20, 2006

From the linked article, his mother said "I never imagined this would happen on a football field."

Yeah, I know! Who would ever think that there would ever in thirty years be an accident with a bunch of high school kids firing off a huge old piece of artillery?

Seriously, these people dodged the law of averages for a loooong time. This kid was just there the night it caught up to them.

And fuck people who value high school sports more than people's lives.
posted by papakwanz at 8:08 PM on December 20, 2006

SWAC - School Wide Annual Club (meets semi-annually)
posted by infinitewindow at 8:09 PM on December 20, 2006

[...] the town is devoted to its traditions, including its beloved cannon, which students in the school's metal shop built after a previous cannon gave out in the mid-1980s. [...] The cannon was blown apart. Pieces of it landed 30 feet away, some even touching down in the end zone.
I think the lesson here is clear: a crappy half-ass cannon built in a podunk high school shop class by a bunch of 15 year-old amateurs should be ornamental, and not actually fired.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:21 PM on December 20, 2006

maybe we should sue the high school shop class. afterall...well, nevermind.
posted by brandz at 8:36 PM on December 20, 2006

heh peacay you missed the best part

A new tradition was started on October 6th 2006, deemed "ROTC target practice." The school's ceremonial cannon lets loose a volley at a random ROTC student's leg. Afterwards, the town's fine citizens spread cheer and wish him the gift of symmetry, threatening to blow off his other leg too if he raises a fuss about it. This new tradition has been met with the community’s full support.

From here
posted by jourman2 at 8:40 PM on December 20, 2006

I wish Texas A&M would fly some of the bonfire survivors up here to knock some sense in these idiots.
posted by dw at 8:46 PM on December 20, 2006

Seriously...wtf is up with insane passion for high school football?
Then again, most of the football players form my graduating class never left that craphole town, so maybe everyone lives out their glory before the long painful existence of mediocrity begins.

and you gotta love info from the wiki:

White: 90.6%
Sheep or Goat/Human hybrid: 6%
Asian or Pacific Islander: 0.9%
Hispanic: 0.9%
African-American: 0.8%
American Indian: 0.6%
Mouthbreathers: 78%

posted by zerokey at 8:48 PM on December 20, 2006

This was all over Fark earlier. I think a bunch of farkers found the myspace page of the guy and sent him a bunch of get well messages.
posted by drstein at 9:43 PM on December 20, 2006

I liked the:

Goat Wooing Club - Practices and competes with communities around the country in the art and science of traditional goat wooing. The categories include: Technology, Music, Tradition, Surprise, and Demeanor.
posted by FYKshun at 10:05 PM on December 20, 2006

FYI, the Wikipedia article was linked from Digg, Fark, and Something Awful. The article was relatively OK until this press coverage.

But, holy crap, they built an artillery piece in the metal shop? I take back all I might have said in defense. This was colossal stupidity.
posted by dhartung at 10:17 PM on December 20, 2006

This is what happens when you build guns without understanding them properly: USS Princeton and the Peacemaker.
posted by dhartung at 10:23 PM on December 20, 2006

"You'll shoot your eye leg out off!"
posted by kosher_jenny at 11:30 PM on December 20, 2006

The cannon has been fired multiple times per game, it's been used for over thirty years, and it's caused one injury - that seems pretty safe*. They'll all be more careful around it now, too, so it'll be safer. Quick googling found this page: 13,000 teenage deaths a year: most due to automobiles and firearms. The zero deaths a year from this cool-sounding cannon don't seem particularly worrying.

A common sentiment on this site is "It's such a shame kids today no longer get to do things in school, like cool experiments with chemicals, which encourage them to learn and take up science." MetaFilter: Firing a gun in a schoolroom. MetaFilter: Thermite and other experiments. Because of this I am surprised at the reaction in this case: now, I'm British, so I'm writing as an outsider, but isn't this to do with the context (jock football game, not geek lab) rather than the actual event (social and educational activity encouraging young people to work, learn and be socialised comes with a low level of risk)?

* I note that all we have to go on at present is one small story in a local newspaper: I've extrapolated from it (one reported accident is not only one accident) and I appreciate everyone else will too, but we can't draw too many concrete conclusions from this source.
posted by alasdair at 11:47 PM on December 20, 2006

alasdair: they have been firing cannons for over 30 years, not this particular cannon. As pointed out above, this was a replacement cannon, about 20 years old, and built by students in shop class. Now they will need another replacement, as this one was blown to pieces.

Yes, one injury (if it is the only one in 30 years, there may have been other less serious injuries that we don't know about) is a pretty good track record. But I don't think most of us are condemning them because they were doing something unsafe (yes, my comment earlier made a point about that, but it was more along the lines of "well, if you have high school kids firing a cannon all the time, chances are something will eventually go wrong, so I don't know where this shock is coming from"). The reason the people of this town deserve to be mocked is because they value the cannon more than the kid.
posted by papakwanz at 12:29 AM on December 21, 2006

Wow. People suck. Football fans suck

There, fixed that for you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 AM on December 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

Also in the wiki, for athletic achievement:

'--2006 Cannon Hunting regionals'

'Snohomish High School has been runner up to the state champions 1 million times. [1]'
posted by toma at 2:31 AM on December 21, 2006

If the kid had any school spirit, he'd be glad to take one for the team. After all, the purpose of school football is to teach kids Sportsmanship, right?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:07 AM on December 21, 2006

America described in the behavior of one small town.

It just like the Republicans that go on about "support the troops" while voting to cut funding for veterans.

That kid destroyed his leg to keep their stinkin' tradition, so they shit upon him and his family.
posted by Goofyy at 5:40 AM on December 21, 2006

Wow. People suck. Football fans suck
There, fixed that for you.

No, actually you turned it from a philosophical complaint into a routine, pointless snark. There was a reason I phrased it the way I did. If you seriously think only football fans are capable of valuing some alleged Higher Value over the well-being of actual people, you haven't been paying attention to your species.
posted by languagehat at 6:08 AM on December 21, 2006

Football fans suck

There, fixed that for you.

What a load of shit. So, since I enjoy football, I automatically am the same as petty, small-minded individuals who have no lives of their own and have to live through their heroes of the high school?

You're just an incredible ass, aren't you?
posted by grubi at 6:17 AM on December 21, 2006

No, actually you turned it from a philosophical complaint into a routine, pointless snark

Hardly. I just don't agree with the lazy cynicism that "people suck"; rather, there is clearly outlined militaristic mindset that is embodied in the sports fans and described soberly and accurately to people who read the article. People don't "suck", but subsets of people who behave like cultists do "suck", or at least seem to make life more miserable for others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:58 AM on December 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Also, currently at Wikipedia:

"Associated Student Body....A Secretary of Defense under the executive branch. He's the guy they let aim the cannon. It has been reported that he's a little walleyed, and is related to his wife by more than marriage..."
posted by ericb at 8:02 AM on December 21, 2006

Oh man -- the Clubs & Activities list for the school at Wikipedia is geeting some great edits!
posted by ericb at 8:05 AM on December 21, 2006

posted by ericb at 8:05 AM on December 21, 2006

I understand Mel Gibson has aquired the movie rights.
posted by phoffmann at 8:07 AM on December 21, 2006

they worked a NAMBLA reference in there... nice.
There really isn't enough landfill refuse in the world (ok maybe there's just enough) to ward off these maturity stalled goat hybrid high school fixated types from their paltry traditions.

What a great surprise for all high school losers when after graduating (or leaving) that twisted "15" plot repeat, life reveals that the cool kids were the real losers after all...

for all who get the nickelodeon reference, congrats on so much wasted life
posted by sarcasman at 9:03 AM on December 21, 2006

dhartung writes "But, holy crap, they built an artillery piece in the metal shop? I take back all I might have said in defense. This was colossal stupidity."

An artilery piece that doesn't actually fire anything but gun powder is a fairly simple device. Well within the capabilities of any decent high school shop and it's instructor and students.
posted by Mitheral at 9:53 AM on December 21, 2006

Football was a life and death matter at my high school. We were the best team in NYC a few years running, and one of the best in the Northeast.

Our home games had the mad electricity of a hysterical fascist rally running through them. Or maybe it was just the adrenaline rush I felt before a game hoping that I would finally get put in. A very rare event. (Dammit.)

One of our JV coaches cried like a grandmother after we lost a key game. Another anointed us his "sick puppies" on our way to becoming varsity caliber "mad dogs". Our mission, we were reminded at times before facing an especially intimidating team (i.e. they were mostly black) was to make our opponents feel unspeakable pain and humiliation because we were the ones in possession of "heart" and "pride" and nothing would stop us.

One crucial game, the other team's cheerleading squad included a girl who was quite splendidly endowed. And wow...some of the cries of cruel observation and abuse she suffered at the hands of our crowd, mostly parents mind you, was beyond horrible, just completely vicious and sadistic (oh did I mention we were a Catholic high school who prided itself on turning out gentlemen who would grow up to become the leaders and pillars of their community). I'm pretty sure that girl ended up spending a fortune on therapy after her nervous breakdown.

So yeah, that kid with the shattered leg? Pfft...what a weak ass pussy. What kind of an IDIOT would get in the way of a beloved cannon built by some HS students that decides to explode in his face. Someone needs to pound some sense into his head tout suite.
posted by Skygazer at 9:57 AM on December 21, 2006

We were the best team in NYC a few years running

...where did you guys practice? I guess you could spend a lot of time in Central Park, if you didn't mind all the cruisers hitting up your players for a little time behind the bushes -- or you could go out to Potter's field and practice if you didn't mind the haunted bones of civil-war era homeless orphans reaching up out of the soil and begging you for one more drop of soup.

I kid, of course, NYC is a great town in which to practice high school football.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:16 AM on December 21, 2006

papakwanz: Good points. Perhaps a good solution would be to have the cannon rebuilt every year by school pupils? This would allow pupils to benefit from the skill acquisition and ritual of creating the piece while minimising the risks posed by metal fatigue.
posted by alasdair at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2006

if you didn't mind the haunted bones of civil-war era homeless orphans reaching up out of the soil and begging you for one more drop of soup.

Hey, that's just part of growing up in the Big Apple. Ya gotta learn early to kick 'em aside and snarl "Want some soup? Gedda fuckin job, ya mook."
posted by languagehat at 10:48 AM on December 21, 2006

The story made today's "Daily Fix" in the Wall Street Journal.
posted by ericb at 1:58 PM on December 21, 2006

The priority on the playing field, however, was the game, which didn't stop as Karch was carried off the sidelines to an ambulance, witnesses said.

And once again we see why I dislike organized sports only slightly less that the rabid fans who follow them.

...to help him toward his longtime goal of becoming a Marine. Karch, a lanky, personable 16-year-old, had hoped to do Special Forces reconnaissance work one day.

"Brett wanted to serve his country," said Bissel. "Now we're just hoping he will be able to use his leg.

Here is where I don't snark about how how this would be a great experience to show him what life in the Special Forces is like nowadays.
posted by quin at 5:07 PM on December 21, 2006

This isn't the only time Snohomish High School has been in the news for football problems.

I worked for the attorney (not an ambulance chaser) mentioned in the article, and once met Chris Ondras. He's virtually a quadraplegic, but he blossomed in many ways once his injuries prevented him from ever even thinking about playing football again. I honesttly don't know what his grades and interests were while he was a football player, but he told me he'd discovered the joys of chess and was getting quite good at it. That was almost ten years ago. I look at this kid and hope he sees the many other opportunities open to him now that his life plans have changed. The first thing he should do, of course, is get out of Snohomish. Sheesh.
posted by lhauser at 1:16 PM on December 22, 2006

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