Stupid is as stupid does

by Ken Carpenter

Every year at this time, since a minor mention in 1985, the Darwin Awards are bestowed on deserving individuals. The dubious honors are given to those deemed to have done the most to improve the human gene pool by “removing themselves from it in a spectacularly stupid manner”, either through death or sterilization.
The first recipient of a Darwin Award managed to crush himself with a vending machine when he tried to rough up the greedy contraption for stiffing him on his Pepsi. I assume it was not a diet drink he was after.
The Darwins really hit their stride in 1993, when webmistress and author Wendy Northcutt, one of my heroes, popularized them. Of course, I didn’t know she existed until 20 minutes ago, but she has gained ground fast.
There are five requirements for earning a Darwin. Inability to reproduce, astounding misapplication of judgment fueled by a unique and sensational idiocy, a self-inflicted fate (the demise of an equally moronic bystander does not make the secondary cretin eligible), a sound decision-making capability (no mental handicaps other than stupidity), and the event must be verified.
The nominee also has to have been discovered in the year of nomination. So if Billy Clyde Tuggle invents a new form of hillbilly parasailing by jumping off a cliff holding an umbrella in each hand, his mangled body must be discovered within one year.
The 2006 champion is would-be robber James Elliot from Long Beach, California. When his intended victim did not display agreeability to being robbed, Elliot decided to improve his disposition by shooting him. He pulled the trigger on his 38-caliber revolver but the pesky pistol failed to fire. The frustrated bandit then did the only reasonable thing by peering down the barrel and pulling the trigger again. This time it worked perfectly, end of story.
My favorite honorable mention, which is given to those who exhibit an abundance of stupidity but have thus far failed to remove themselves from the gene pool, is priceless. A Zimbabwean bus driver was transporting 20 mental patients when he decided to enhance his odious task by sucking down a few libations at an illegal tavern. When he finally reeled from the bar he discovered that his charges had made their escape. Since the revolting situation was sure to bring his competence into scrutiny, he went to a nearby bus stop and offered everybody there a free ride. The unwary passengers were then delivered to the mental hospital, where the driver stressed to the staff that every single patient was exceedingly excitable and prone to the wildest of fantasies. It took three days for the deception to be discovered.
A Chicago man shoveled snow for over an hour during a blizzard to clear a spot for his car. When he finished and retrieved his vehicle, he returned to find that a woman had stolen his hard earned parking space. Understandably irritated, he shot the thief, earning an honorable mention.
A teenager decided he wanted to know how close he could put his head to a moving train, receiving serious head injuries and an honorable mention in the bargain.
At 5 a.m. one morning a Burger King clerk was accosted by a gun-toting thief, who demanded all the money. The clerk replied that he could not open the cash register without a food order, so the crook ordered onion rings. When informed that that particular item was not available for breakfast, the disgusted robber walked away, broke, hungry and honorably mentioned.
Unfortunately for our well being, but fortunately for our funny bone, stupidity is alive and flourishing in the world today. Rarely does a day go by without evidence of it crossing our path.

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