Screw the Darwin Awards

And screw you too, buddy

Imagine a big red circle-slash on his head, please. I was too lazy to do it in Photoshop.
Imagine a big red circle-slash on his head, please. I was too lazy to do it in Photoshop.

Every January a zillion penny ante blogs cite the latest Darwin Awards. For those of you oblivious to this annual ode to soulless schadenfreude culture, the extremely played-out gimmick is to posthumously embarrass “those who improve our gene pool by accidentally removing themselves from it.” Although not unlike those irritating filler bits on NPR’s Morning Edition (or the Alibi’s own “Odds & Ends”) in its heartless, funny-because-it-didn’t-happen-to-me ethic, the Darwin Awards are uniquely reprehensible in that they celebrate the demise of other humans deemed too stupid to live by virtue of the fact that they are already dead.

This year’s line-up of sad deaths is especially unamusing to anyone with even the tiniest drop of sympathy left in them. The winner? A boozehound who gave himself one alcoholic enema too many, passed out, and died of alcohol poisoning. Hilarious! What a loser! The runners-up? A guy who tried to use his laptop while driving and drifted into oncoming traffic, an uncautious guy with a chainsaw who brought a barn down on his head, a homeowner who electrocuted himself trying to fry a mole, a dork who played chicken with a train and lost. Dumb, yes, but worth cackling over (planetwide, I might add) as if you could never be so stupid? Yes, you could, fucker. Believe me, I know you could.

But the saddest item is one that already made the “weird news” rounds earlier this year: A young naked couple found dead in the street (it’s funny already, isn’t it?), their internal bleeding and broken bones a mystery until someone discovered two piles of neatly-folded clothes on a roof five stories above. So yes, they were having sex on the roof and fell.

I think the thing that most depresses me about this little tale is not only the vast majority of boneheads who think that there’s any humor at all in this, but the Puritanical implication that having sex on the roof is somehow just plain wrong in the first place. Sure, maybe they could have been more careful, or picked a less precariously-sloping roof, but a couple of young, enthusiastic people getting it on under the stars is not inherently stupid. No, it’s not, you bitter old farts. In fact, it’s the kind of wonderful flouting of the rules that only young people even think of doing. That it ended in horror and death is fucking sad.

The buttoned-down status-quo world that hears this and thinks “ha ha” instead of “Christ, that must have been horrible, losing your balance and sliding down the roof with the person you most love” is a world without empathy and a world without hope. You want that kind of world? Well, keep laughing.