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View from the pew: By Jerry Godsey

January 23, 2001

I received an email the other day announcing the winners (?) of The Darwin Awards. The Darwin Awards are given to the persons who killed themselves or almost killed themselves in the most bizarre way. Here are a couple of this year's nominees:

NOMINEE No. 1 [San Jose Mercury News]: An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriend's windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.

NOMINEE No. 2: [Kalamazoo Gazette]: James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo, Mich., was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe as a "farm type truck." Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns' clothes caught on something, however,and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft."

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NOMINEE No. 3: [Hickory Daily Record]: Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, N.C. Wakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

One of this year's nominees really caught my attention: [UPI, Toronto] Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower one Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the building's windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously had conducted demonstrations of window strength, according to police reports. Peter Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association.

What really got me was that this guy was one of the best and brightest this organization had. That is truly a frightening thought! How bright do you have to be to launch your body at a glass window 24 floors above the pavement? I may not be the best and brightest the world has to offer, but I'm smart enough not to do that. Mr. Hoy's wisdom was faulty at best.

I have been watching the confirmation brouhaha over John Ashcroft on the news. I have listened to person after person get up in front of a bank of microphones and spew their opinions and "wisdom" about Sen. Ashcroft's fitness for the Attorney General job. The basic gist of the message seemed to be, "We disagree with Mr. Ashcroft's views on (take your pick: abortion, civil rights, recycling, whether or not Adam and Eve had belly buttons, etc.), so we don't think he should be Attorney General. One of the men even said, "I speak for America when I say withdraw this nomination, Mr. Bush." I wanted to be sure and get this man's name so I could call him and thank him for calling each and every American and getting our opinion so he could speak for us. I guess I wasn't home when he called my house.

It is amazing to me that in the name of diversity and tolerance we have become tolerant of everything except someone who will speak his mind and stand up for what he believes to be right. America has become a land of the lowest common denominator. "I will tolerate you as long as you agree with me. After that, I must oppose and destroy you. It is OK for you to be a free thinker, as long as you think like I do." It is illegal to mention Christ at Christmas on our public school campuses, but perfectly fine to have witches at Halloween. I can't give one of my students an aspirin without their parent's consent, but I can take them for an abortion. Omar Bradley put it best, "The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants."

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.'" (1 Corinthians 13:18-19, New International Version)

So add my voice to the cacophony of voices on John Ashcroft. I am willing to take a risk on having a man in public office who stands by his principles. Who knows, he might even rub off on the rest of them.

Stepping off the soapbox… Jerry

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