Intellectual Darwinism Doesn’t Always Cull Weak

By Jason Menard

The dangerous thing about natural selection is that it’s not always the weakest members of the human herd that end up getting culled – often times through their moronic behaviour suffer the effects of their lack of intelligence.

Case in point is a recent story out of New Millford, Connecticut. It seems that a weekend party turned macabre when some intellectually deficient reveller decided that tossing a quarter-full keg into a blazing fire would be cool or fun (please note that the intentions of the thrower are all based upon speculation – but it seems like a normal thing for someone taking the risk of killing their all-too-rare brain cells would do.)

Unfortunately, our perpetrator in this sad story didn’t have a firm grasp on basic physics or chemistry for that matter.

As you can imagine, flames plus beer plus confined area led to a build-up of pressure which was too much for the keg – which was not designed for such an activity – to take. In the end, the ensuing explosion and shrapnel flying through the air at an extreme rate of speed and force, killed a 22-year-old man and injured seven others who presented to a local hospital with cuts and burns.

Sadly, it’s probably not the last time something like this will happen. And we’re powerless to make it stop.

That’s because even the brightest of us — those who believe we’ve climbed a few rungs up the Darwinian evolutionary ladder — get the urge to survey the land from our lofty perch and think we’d be able to perform a triple-pike dive and live to tell the tale.

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. We’ve all done things that we look back upon and chuckle with friends, amazed that we didn’t get more hurt. But usually those are activities that only affect ourselves – and if we caused ourselves severe, permanent damage, we’d be resigned to the fact that it was self-inflicted.

What’s worse is when someone else’s stupidity negatively impacts your life. Take, for example, our aforementioned New Millford friends. Imagine you are at this party and that you’ve taken all the requisite precautions. Since it’s outdoors, you’ve worn appropriate clothing, or even sprayed an insect repellant with DEET – just in case! You’ve arranged for – or are — a designated driver. Essentially, you’ve done everything in your power to ensure that you have protected yourself from the potential hazards that this bush bash may present.

That is, every hazard except the moron who decides to toss a keg into a roaring flame.

There are those who like to throw out the statement that any day we could meet tragedy. They’ll state that we can simply walk off the curb one day and get hit by a bus. But that’s not the truth of the matter. In general, we look both ways before crossing, we don’t stand so close to the side of the road so as to worry about falling into the path of oncoming traffic, and – most importantly – we don’t have morons chucking busses at us, foiling our best laid safety plans.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. You’ve said it, we’ve all said it, and we’ve all chuckled about it. Unfortunately, some of our revelry – especially that which is influenced by the presence of alcohol – can lead to painful consequences. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s others who get hurt.

Drunk drivers are a prime example of this. But there are others: kids swinging a baseball bat rarely hit themselves – but they’ll nail the poor kid walking by. Throwing snowballs into traffic seems funny until you scare the bejeezus out of the poor, unsuspecting driver (who has probably checked all mirrors, buckled up for safety, and recently replaced their brakes) who then swerves into on-coming traffic.

While it would be nice to think that social and intellectual Darwinism culls the weakest from the herd, the sad fact of the matter is that the rest of us often suffer the brunt of a bad decision made by someone else, out of our control.

And if you don’t believe me, ask some of those partygoers in New Millford whether they thought keg tossing was going to be on the agenda.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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