Crocodile Tears
or "Crikey!  No one saw that coming!"

Early this morning I read that Steve Irwin, the "Fearless Crocodile Hunter," had been fatally wounded by a stingray, a creature who, by all accounts, requires that you properly load it, take off the safety, and empty the chamber into your chest in order to get yourself killed.  There are few individuals on this earth with the capacity for such monumental stupidity as to willingly put themselves in this most obviously very wrong place at the worst possible time, and now there's one less of them.

Watching Steve's take on wildlife programming was like watching a version of National Geographic that was raped by Mtv's 'Jackass.'  Clearly this guy was not as sharp as the teeth, claws, or barbed tails of his many victims, but at least the Discovery Channel served as a sort of sex offenders registry to warn viewers of the existence of this particularly unrepentant animal molester.

When Steve attempted a few years ago to feed a croc with raw meat in one arm and his one year-old in the other, I watched the footage in a sort of bemused horror and wondered if someone somewhere was compiling a list of similarities between Steve and Michael Jackson, that other famous child-endangering, serial exploiter.

Sadly, we all saw Steve's end coming, and we all cheered him along just the same.  I would guess many of even the most conservative gamblers have lost money over the years betting him dead many times over by now.  It's no secret that newspapers kept his pre-written obituary on file squarely at the front of the cabinet.  By some accounts, an engraver received the order years ago for the plaque on Steve's Darwin Award, for which he had nominated himself in virtually every encounter with the natural world.

Today the world says 'rest in peace, Crocodile Hunter.'  I say, rest in peace from Steve, all you crocodiles, stingrays, and every other manner of creature on this planet.

Note: Dani questioned my assertion that it takes a lot to get yourself killed by a stingray.  Most articles on Steve's death make this claim, but I just read the following which nails it down in more concrete terms: "Attacks by stingrays on humans are very rare and only one other person is known to have died from a stingray attack in Australia in 1945." (Reported by Janaki Kremmer of the CSM.)

Although it was being reported that Steve did nothing to intimidate the animal, the fact that he managed to hurdle incredible statistics is very telling.  Steve invariably pushed his luck around animals, and that he was killed a manner that defies probability speaks loudly to which end of the bell curve we're dealing with here. Chance played little role.  To describe this death as a freak accident is to be surprised by someone getting struck by lightning while making a career of storm chasing with a giant metal rod held aloft like a huge middle finger to common sense.

Copyright 2006 Ale[x]umed.
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