Sympathy For The Stupid

I have a problem of long-standing: I just can’t muster a lot of empathy for people who hurt themselves doing incredibly stupid things. I just can’t. Stupidity causes so much death and destruction in the world, and the more competent among us spend so much precious time and treasure trying to mitigate the damage wreaked on society by idiots.

Even when the idiots involved are children, I have difficultly time feeling too sorry for their self-inflicted misfortunes if the cause was sufficiently dunder-headed…like in this case.

In Bolivia, three Marvel Comics-loving brothers, ages 12, 10 and 8, forced a black widow spider to bite them, theorizing that the bites would turn each of them into Spiderman. First of all, if you are going to try something like this, know your comics. Peter Parker wasn’t bitten by a Black Widow—where did they get that idea? —which has venom 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s bite. Black widows are one of the most feared spiders in the world, and the most venomous in North America. Now, Spiderman got his Spidey powers after being bitten by an ordinary spider that was radioactive. If the brothers were such fans of the Webslinger, they should have known that. If you aren’t sure what kind of spider confers super-powers, you don’t take a flyer on the deadliest spider around as your first candidate.

Yeah yeah yeah they are just kids. So were the idiots who jumped off of roofs using a blankets as capes when The Superman TV show was hot. I didn’t have any sympathy for them, either.

Finding the  brothers crying in pain, their mother rushed them to a nearby health center, which transferred them to a nearby hospital suffering from fevers, tremors and muscle pains. They were treated and discharged  almost a week after they were bitten. They were lucky. They may not be so lucky next time.


14 thoughts on “Sympathy For The Stupid

  1. I would give the 8-year-old a pass here. His lesson learned would be to not believe everything his older brothers tell him, especially if it requires getting bitten by something.

  2. Black Widows – the Australian variety is known as the Redback (Latrodectus hasseltii), due to most having an hourglass shaped red marking on the top of their abdomen.

    Unlike most venomous Australian wildlife, these are all too common, often found in shoes, buckets left outdoors, and infamously under toilet seats. We see about a dozen annually. And again, unlike most really large spders around the house, “huntsmen” that keep down the moths, bush cockroaches and other pests from outside, these are genuinely dangerous and are terminated with extreme prejudice.

    A fiercesome looking saucer sized huntsman that is in a place it doesn’t belong (like a pillowcase) is caught and released in the garden. A relative small Redback – body smaller than a US nickel – chemical warfare is used in case there are little ones around. Usually a couple of hundred.

    Before an antivenom was developed in 1956, they were a bit more than a nuisance. Infants have died within hours of a bite, but adult fatalities have taken up to 30 days.

    • What is it with Australian wildlife? The deadliest and most terrifying beasts live on that continent. Spiders, snakes, sharks, kangaroos* . . . the list goes on and on and . . .


      * Ed. Note: not really. Kangaroos are pretty cool.

        • It’s the disemboweling kick you have to look out for.

          A red roo can be 2m tall. The wound in that picture was from a 1.2m grey.

          Nowhere near as dangerous as a grizzly bear of course, but we’ve had a 1.5m grey in our backyard before now.. We’re in the Inner North. I’m told bears rarely reach the inner city suburbs of Washington DC, whereas we get roos in our capital, Canberra. Especially at dusk. Driving on back roads at that time is to be avoided.

      • Come holiday in New Zealand. No deadly snakes, insects, kangaroos, lions, bears, just some flightless birds who haven’t learnt to evade the stoats that were introduced.
        But you will need to wait until the border is open again.

  3. Black widows are fine if you leave them alone. Not an aggressive spider but very venomousness. I’m beginning to wonder if there is a significant I.Q. drop in 12 year old boys in America.

  4. In Bolivia, are young boys really reading “Spider-Man” comics or are they watching the Marvel films? I ask because comics are increasingly becoming less read by children and the new Marvel films – the ones that have come out during these boys’ lifetimes – have ignored Spider-Man’s origin story.

    So the kids may know Peter was bitten by a spider, but may not necessary equate that with a radioactive spider in a lab versus a venomous spider in the wild.

    Fortunately, most kids don’t try to get bitten by a spider just as most kids don’t try to jump off the garage roof with a towel wrapped around their necks (or, about 15 years ago, on a broomstick). There are always going to be some that do, though. Their guardian angels either protect them…or they don’t.

    • 12-year-old boys (specifically that year! They are a species of their own.) will somehow discover ALL the details about their favorite fictional heroes, action figures or game characters and be up on the latest biographies, however irrational, even if they haven’t seen the movie three or four times yet. You should never argue with one of them; you will be permanently labeled as a
      “noob.” ( . . . until the slang changes, that is)

  5. As children, we used to be great fans of Spiderman (virtually all the marvel and DC superheroes)… We didn’t have access to the comic books and our TV time largely limited majorly because we didn’t get much electricity in Nigeria…(still don’t).
    What we knew about these heroes were from the little we got to watch and also from narrations from our friends who got to watch different different episodes whenever they had light (power) in their own areas.

    We have quite different species of spiders here and I don’t know much about them… But I remember trying to get the spiders to bite me so I’d become a Spiderman. I’m quite sure a majority of us did.

    So I quite understand these children… And while not trying to excuse them, the point is Children do stupid things. That’s why they’re children. And more often than not, it comes from a place of ignorance and poor reasoning (because they’re children).
    Trying to get a spider to bite you is I think quite different from jumping off a building (to be superman) if not for anything, because even children are supposed to know what happens when you fall.

    I get that you “are unable”, not “unwilling” to muster sympathy, but maybe you could try to understand. Especially when it’s children.

  6. Just what I was thinking, Lumiére. Even with the danger of spider bites, though, I think Spiderman is the “safest” superhero character. He has real kid feelings and makes kit mistakes. Children identify with that.

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