July 16th, 2012 -- Celebrating Stupid
It would appear that the theme of 2012’s second half will be stupidity. No doubt the lack of intelligence and cognitive thought are always percolating near the top of America’s narrative stew, but it seems as though it has risen to dominance in the last few weeks.
We already discussed the anecdotal evidence suggesting that the overwhelming majority of Americans actually believe that the President of the United States controls the price of gasoline; that certainly qualifies for one kind of stupidity, and now we have another.
Last week, Kaleb “Fred” Langdale, a 17 year old Florida male, went with friends of his near Fort Meyers. While that appears innocent enough, it isn’t. The water they chose to swim in, the Caloosahatchee River is well known to all of the teens and is home to alligators year round. In June, in particular, many mother gators are nesting and/or nursing newborns and while that often tamps down the activity level of the gators, it also heightens their awareness and defensiveness. Having lived in Florida all of their lives, all of the teens knew all of this.
In the aftermath of Langdale losing his arm to an alligator attack, no one is discussing the stupidity of the teens going into the river in the first place. And if it isn’t stupid, then why do we shut down pockets of the Pacific Coastline every year when one shark is spotted in shallow waters? A shark is far less likely to attack a human than a gator is, yet we cause mass hysteria, put up warning signs and forbid people from going into the ocean when one shark is seen. Yet, no one says a word when half a dozen teens in Florida think nothing of swimming with nursing and protective gators. In fact, just the opposite; somehow, Langdale is a hero.
No one will preach to you more against living a life of fear. But there is an enormous distinction between not being afraid of life and being just plain stupid. Moreover, in the end, it matters not to me if you fail to see the difference. In either case, if you choose to take enormous risks it is ultimately your life to risk. But we should not praise you if the risks you take are unnecessary, the outcome predictable, and if the initial decision you made to take the risk was stupid.
Langadle, hardly a boy since he’s less than a year from being eligible to die for his country, made the idiotic and probably arrogant decision to swim with the gators as he and his friends have done time and time again. So be it. Youth, testosterone, immaturity and a series of other factors contributed to all sorts of dumb decisions throughout my life and, presumably, almost everyone else’s. The difference is that when the young amongst us make foolish decisions, they need to be shamed and scolded for their stupidity, not heralded and cheered for their alleged bravery.
Langdale claims he essentially deduced, while being attacked by the gator, that his only possible chance for survival was to allow the gator to rip his arm off, sparing the rest of Langdale’s body. For that calm, reasoned thinking in the moment of terror, we’re told that he should be lionized.
I have a question. Can anyone tell me the one, surefire way that Mr. Langdale could have avoided being in the jaws of that gator in the first place? Ding ding ding, that’s correct! He could have not chosen to swim in the river he knew was homes to gators in the first place!
Imagine the reaction had Mr. Langdale’s decision been to get behind the wheel of a car drunk. Would we be praising him for knowing that a drunk person is more flexible and therefore he’s smarter to not wear his seatbelt, thus allowing him to flop to safety when he inevitably crashes? Of course not.
And for those who decry such comparisons, this is hardly a harmless teenage activity with nothing more than a terrible outcome for the “boy.”
Now that we’ve made a hero of his immaturity, the family has revealed they don’t have the insurance or cash needed to cover all of Mr. Langdale’s medical bills so they are of course turning to the generous and stupid American public. As of this writing, they’ve raised almost $15,000 in donations, thus encouraging more kids to make more stupid decisions and suffer no repercussions when they do so.
The final insult comes from Mr. Langdale himself, who exhibits nothing but total reverence for himself and a complete lack of any sort of perspective. Along with stating that he’s glad the gator attacked him because “none of his friends would have been able to handle it,” he’s also announced he can’t wait to get back in the water! That would be fine, if he were willing to guarantee the population and taxpayers that they wouldn’t have to pay for his next antic. What’s on the docket for winter? Taunting a Polar Bear?
The worst of all, however, was Langdale’s “announcement” that after the wildlife officials had gone out and caught and killed the gator that attacked him, he wanted the body. Quoting from the story:
A spunky 17-year-old who had his right arm partially torn from his body during a vicious alligator attack, told FoxNews.com that he wants the alligator’s head.
"I'm going to use it for a prosthetic armrest," Kaleb Langdale said in an exclusive interview. “I want his head." "You can't do this to me and get away with it," he said.
Imagine the balls on this “kid.” No wonder he made such an arrogant decision in the first place, to go in the water, he displays nothing more than false courage after the fact as well. While I will praise the young man for his quick thinking in the moment, I will also deride the very decision to go into the water in the first place and I will demand that we stop praising his overtly idiotic behavior. But most of all, he cannot be allowed to play the role of “tough guy,” as though he were Charles Bronson tracking down his latest scumbag in “Death Wish.”
You, Mr. Langdale, are not in any way responsible for the demise of the gator. The gator DID get away with ripping your arm off, you idiot. It is only through the brave and mandated work of wildlife officials that the reptile was tracked and killed in the first place and for you to display the animal as some sort of show piece is akin to me congratulating myself when Dawn’s husband bowls a perfect 300 game.
“WOOOOOOOO!!! Look at me! I didn’t do anything! Woohoooo! I stood next to Gary while he bowled a 300 game!!! Wooooooooooo! I want that 10 pin on my mantle! No bowling alley beats me!!!!!! Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!”
No, Mr. Langdale, you are not a hero but you are most certainly a victim. You, like countless others, are the victim of horrendous parenting and an apologist culture who will make life as easy as possible for you as long as your alleged “mistakes” seem innocent enough to the masses. Not only will they apologize for you, they’ll make you more than you ever should have become or could have on your own. I’m sure there’s a book and a movie in your future and a hollow existence of not one lesson learned, for this is the stupidity of America.