Awards focus on folly of man

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 15, 1999

Most folks have never heard of the Darwin Awards. They’re actually a fictional award that focuses on the folly of man.

The award supposedly goes to those who contribute in a positive way to the gene pool by eliminating their genes from the pool, i.e., by dying in spectacularly stupid ways before they breed.

Yes, that’s sort of morbid, and one could argue that they make fun of death – which is no laughing matter. However, they sure do point out how foolish some folks can be, and not all nominees actually died as a result of their foolishness.

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These examples are all from published newspaper accounts and are from past nominees and winners of the Darwin Award:

– From the Hickory Daily Record: A man in Newton, N.C., accidentally shot himself to death when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone, mistakenly grabbed the Smith & Wesson .38 special he also kept on the bed stand. It discharged when he drew it to his ear.

– From United Press International: A lawyer, demonstrating the strength and safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper, crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. Police said he was explaining the strength of the building’s windows to visiting law students.

He had previously conducted similar demonstrations of window strength in the past, police reports said. A managing partner of the firm told the Toronto Sun, &uot;He was one of the best and brightest&uot; members of the 200-man association.

– From The Associated Press: Police in a small Pennsylvania town interrogated a suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting wires from it to a photocopy machine.

The message &uot;HE’S LYING&uot; was placed in the copier and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn’t telling the truth. Believing it was a lie detector, the suspect confessed to the crime.

– From News of the World: A South Carolina man in prison on a murder conviction and who had successfully had his death sentence reduced to life in prison was electrocuted, but not in the prison’s electric chair.

He was sitting on the metal toilet in his prison cell and was attempting to repair his portable TV, which he had not unplugged. He bit into wire and was electrocuted.

– From the European News Service: A man hunting on private property without permission, shot a stag standing on an overhanging rock. The stag fell from the rock on the hunter, killing him instantly.

– From The Associated Press: A West Virginia man popped a blasting cap into his mouth and bit down, triggering an explosion that blew off part of his lips, teeth and tongue, state police said.

The man was at a party where another person had hooked the cap to a battery and had placed it in an aquarium where he was trying unsuccessfully to explode it.

Police said the man took it out of the aquarium and said it could be set off by pressure and demonstrated by biting down on it.