Headline on Penis Injury is Unkindest Cut of All
I got in trouble recently with someone that seemed offended that an article of mine, posted in a LinkedIn group, was not about workers’ compensation. What can I say? Sometimes that happens. I occasionally stumble across a “human interest” story that simply screams for my analysis and input.
This is one of those moments.
As a teenager, I was a relatively shy, socially awkward person – particularly compared to the suave and sophisticated maven of coolness I am today. This was particularly true when dealing with members of the opposite sex. So while what happened to the 18 year old subject of this story would have been a life shattering event, it is the way it was reported that would have completely killed me with embarrassment.
18 year old Michael Smeriglio, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was cleaning his gun last week when the weapon discharged, striking him in the penis and left testicle before lodging in his leg.
Now, I was raised out west, in the mountains, where the men are men and so are the women. Gun safety was actually part of our public school curriculum. I am trying to remember, as I did not pay much attention in those days, but I recall rule number 1 in gun safety was, “Only point your weapon at something you intend to kill”, and rule number 2 was “Don’t point a loaded gun at your crotch (unless you intend to kill it).”
I believe this was the result of a blatant violation of rule # 2. News stories tell us that sadly, the penis did not survive.
As tragic as that is, I was even more stunned at the way this event was reported. Normally, when an accident or event occurs involving a non-celebrity person, the headlines are relatively informative, but nondescript nonetheless. For example, if a dog bites a man, the headline might read “Dog Bites Man”, not “Spot Bites Howard Stimplebutt on the Arm”. This is important, because honestly, no one has any idea who Howard Stimplebutt is. It is not relevant.
That is why I was surprised to see the following headline on the story I discuss today. In big, bold type, it read:
Michael Smeriglio accidentally shoots off his penis and testicle; friend arrested on drug charge
Don’t take my word for it. You can see the actual article here.
Oh, I forgot to mention that when police arrived at the scene, they found marijuana in the house, and arrested his friend, who owned the house where this occurred. Seems they also ignored rule #3 in gun safety, which says “In the event you violate rule number 2 and shoot yourself in the penis, flush all your pot before the police arrive.”
So how embarrassing is that headline? Wouldn’t that be the second most humiliating thing that could happen to you? Do you really even need a story after that? I think everything that could have been said about it, was, in that one simple sentence. I really don’t know how you could humiliate the guy more, unless they printed a picture like this:
While I was on Facebook retrieving Mr. Smeriglios' picture from an account that clearly could benefit from better security settings, I came across this one, of him in happier times, playing with some of his little friends. I believe he is the one in the “I ♥ Boobies” T-Shirt.
While many of us ♥ boobies, this event itself is a painful reminder that guns are things that are supposed to be respected, even when the people handling them aren’t. Even though this was a tragic and no doubt painful accident, I would say the media’s heartless presentation of it is clearly the unkindest cut of all.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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