Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Speaking ill of the deadly

When someone does something stupid, even when it results in their own death, why not point out the obvious?

Speaking ill of the deadly

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No stunt

My father smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for over twenty years.  So when he died at a tragically premature 43 of lung cancer, we were devastated, but not entirely surprised.  Same with my beloved Pop-Pop, who loved his Chesterfields only slightly less than his wife and died of emphysema at 58.

I’m sure if someone had said to me shortly after their deaths that it was a horrible shame but they should have known better than to take the risks, I’d have gone ballistic.  Pointing out that there is a causal connection between smoking and death may be rational, but not exactly compassionate.

That’s why I sorta understand Bam Margera’s anger at Roger Ebert’s tweet about Ryan Dunn’s death the other day.  Ebert, the legendary film critic, sent out a comment to the Twitter-verse that was viewed as tactless and unfeeling, coming as it did only hours after the “Jackass” star lost his life in a car crash.  What was it that got Ebert in hot water? This:  “Jackasses don’t let friends drive drunk.”

It may be crass given the fact that someone died, but you have to admit it’s both pithy and accurate.

So I have a big problem with Margera and his campaign to malign Ebert and anyone else who had the audacity to point out that when your blood alcohol is twice the legal limit and you’re driving like a bat out of hell on the Autobahn, it’s not unreasonable to take a moment from your mourning and say: “Geez, this guy was an idiot.”

If Bam Margera knew who I was, I’m sure he’d be telling me to “STFU" up like he did to Ebert, which I actually found ironic since the film critic can no longer speak since he lost his voice and his jaw to cancer.  But Margera has more important things to do, like completely ignore the fact that his best friend caused his own death by drinking and driving.

More important, he took his passenger with him, and could have caused countless other innocent deaths by ignoring this simple rule:  if you’re high on anything other than life itself, stay away from the wheel.

Frankly, it’s about time that we in society started speaking frankly about irresponsibility and not try and make others feel guilty about pushing for accountability.  Ebert eventually apologized for the tone of his tweet, but wisely didn’t back down and reiterated what we all know:  the substance of his comment is true.  Idiots who think it’s okay to marinate in alcohol and then drive like a madman on a road shared by the rest of us don’t necessarily deserve to die, but if they do it shouldn’t be called a ‘tragedy.’

Tragedies are when a young child contracts leukemia and dies at the age of 7.  Tragedies are when people go off to work one sunny September morning and never come home because a terrorist slams his plane into their office building.  Tragedies are when a soon-to-be bride gets gunned down in a pharmacy by a drug addict looking for a quick fix.

And tragedies are when pregnant women are crossing the street and get run down by drunken speed demons.

All of the above have happened, and deserve unconditional mourning.  But while it’s sad that Ryan Dunn is gone (although I never understood exactly where his talents lay,) we shouldn’t be intimidated into keeping silent about the truth:  he caused his own death, killed someone else, and barely missed seriously injuring innocent bystanders.

There seems to be a misplaced desire in this society to tread lightly around death, as if every situation should be treated with the same level of respect.  When Jack Kevorkian, the Angel of Assisted Death died a few weeks ago, some were loathe to actually point out that he’d arrogantly broken the law-and got rich doing it.  Now that he was dead, we were supposed to forget the circumstances of his life and the culture of death that he’d helped advance.

I guess it was considered ‘mean’ to point out that this man had done more to hurt the cause of the terminally ill than any single individual over the last fifty years (and as someone whose had several terminally ill family members, I know what I’m talking about.)

So this desire to tread lightly around Ryan Dunn and his senseless death rings a bit hollow.  Margera’s mother April actually hit a better tone when she said that kids should learn a lesson from the way her son’s best friend died.

Like a Jackass.

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See Christine Flowers on Channel 6's "Inside Story" Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

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