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Forever young

It's been often said (by me, among others) that the laws of Nature/God/Fate are far harsher than the laws of Man.

An example of that happened yesterday in Southborough, Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, it's against the law for teenage drivers to drive other teenagers around. It's against the law to speed. And I think it's also against the law for teenagers to be driving around at 1:00 a.m.

Not written down somewhere, but just as valid, are a few other laws: don't let young, inexperienced drivers tool around at night with their sister and friend in a Land Rover Discovery. Teenagers shouldn't be out driving at 1:00 a.m. on a weeknight, even if there is no school the next day.

If you break those laws in Massachusetts, you will face the suspension or loss of your license, and a fine. But violating the second set can get you killed.

A 17-year-old girl driver is dead, as is her 15-year-old sister. The second passenger, a friend is in critical condition. And when the inevitable question of "why" comes up, the answer is as simple as it is brutal: because she was stupid, and her parents didn't try hard enough to protect her from her own stupidity. (Change "stupid" to "young" or "foolish" or "inexperienced," if you like -- the point remains the same.)

It's too late for them, but perhaps this example might help save some other kids' lives.

Update:

Also considered less than capital offenses are stealing a dirt bike, riding a dirt bike on city streets without a license, and avoiding arrest. But again, bad decisions can and will get you killed.


Comments (26)

"Stupidity cannot be cured.... (Below threshold)
Gringo:

"Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death. There is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity." - Robert Heinlein

Jay Tea, I'm using your pi... (Below threshold)
goddessoftheclassroom:

Jay Tea, I'm using your piece, the linked articles, and Gringo's comment as a writing prompt and reading exercise for my 10th graders today.

You may have saved a life. Thanks for sharing.

goddess, I am tremendously ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

goddess, I am tremendously honored you'd think this worthy, and by all means feel free if you think it'll do any good. I'd only add one thing to it:

Nature/the world doesn't give a shit whether you live or die. That decision is solely up to you. In the end, only you can decide whether you do something stupid that gets you killed.

J.

Actually, Goddess, if you p... (Below threshold)
Gringo:

Actually, Goddess, if you plan to use it in a classroom, that quote is a condensed version. This is the full thing:

"Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity." -- Robert Heinlein

And when the inevi... (Below threshold)
And when the inevitable question of "why" comes up, the answer is as simple as it is brutal: because she was stupid, and her parents didn't try hard enough to protect her from her own stupidity.

I suppose it is easy enough for someone who is not the parent of a teenager to say they didn't try hard enough. But the reality it that kids just don't listen. I didn't listen or believe this stuff when I was a teenager. It's amazing that I survived my youth. It took some very harsh lessons in reality to open my eyes ... I grew up in a small city, pop. 28K. Over a period of about 4 months, the summer after I graduated from high school, 12 young people ages 16 to 22 were killed doing stupid stuff. I started to pay a bit of attention then. Many of my friends did not though. Some of them are dead, in prison, or their lives are wasted on drugs.

I have a 17 year old son. He and his friends do some remarkably stupid things on a regular basis. The parents do what we can. Me, I sat my son down and made him look at images at rotten.com. I'm a retired paramedic ... I have dozens of stories to tell. A friend of theirs is up on vehicular homicide charges because he killed a girl in a crash caused by driving drunk, stupid and too fast. I told my son, there but for the grace of God ... he could just as easily get into that same situation. I talk to him, scream at him, cry, rant, rave ... stupid choices can screw up your whole life, IF you survive those stupid choices.

Does he believe me? Does he listen? Oh. Why. Hell. No. What will it take? A close friend dying? A trip to jail? A close call?

The only way I could "try harder" to protect him from stupid choices is to lock him in a closet for the next ten years. Is that what parents must do to avoid the finger of blame here?

Jay, I admire your courage ... (Below threshold)

Jay, I admire your courage in posting this article. I wrote a similar piece about a bad single-vehicle accident north of Atlanta, and the driver's friends came after me with pitchforks, flaming torches, tar, and feathers. I still get hits for the driver's name.

I do agree with what you've said. But by the same token, my friends drove me around and vice versa through high school.

Lots of people don't think the rules apply to them. They're called parents. Because, as we all know, "my kid would never do such a thing". Even in the face of proof.

Darwin was right.... (Below threshold)
glenn:

Darwin was right.

Did you see the wreck on TV... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Did you see the wreck on TV? Sadly, the article lacks a picture. It's the most spectacular, "how did they do that" wreck ever. How do you get that airborne in an SUV?

Ironically, it sounded like speed was a big factor, and they were rushing to make it home before curfew.

What ever became of curfews... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

What ever became of curfews what ever became of parents making time line for their kids to be home at a certian time like 10;00 oclock pm is it the liberal idiots at the left-wing ACLU threatening a lawsuit aginst communites that have curfews?

Josh, you should see the ha... (Below threshold)

Josh, you should see the hate mail I get whenver I up a "Stupid Dead Kids" post, whether it's the kid who wrapped his car around a utility pole killingh himself and his best friend, or the kid who was "playing" with a loaded Glock and shot himself dead, the hate mail is the same.

My favorite was the person wishing for me to be raped in hell with a fork.

Jay, good post.

The gentle approach to curbing teen driving deaths has failed. Reality is a harsh M.F., but one that needs to be met head-on.

My proposed solution involves encasing some of the victim's remains ina block of Lucite and displaying them in the school's trophy case in the lobby.

I have two teenage daughter... (Below threshold)
Chris:

I have two teenage daughters and live somewhat near Southborough. This accident is tragic, and I just think about whether I could even go on living if I was their parents.

That said, I'm really offended by somne of the comments here. For one, I don't consider "stupid" to be interchangeable with "young" or "foolish" or "inexperienced." You don't grow out of being stupid. But it fits with the continuing tendency of people on this board to judge the way other people live their lives based on almost no evidence. Did the parents "let" the girls drive around at 1 a.m.? Is it possible they took the car without permission? If they did, were the parents supposed to publicly blame the girls?

I think it's fine to use this as a lesson for other kids. But I can't believe that none of you ever took fooolish chances when you were teenagers. It's a common saying that kids think they're invincible. That's just nature. What the girls did was wrong, and stupid. I've done stupid things in my life, especially when I was younger. It didn't make me a stupid person.

A family is destroyed and a town is broken, and all you guys can do is figure out who to blame. Not to mention Spurwing's usual idiotic rant. What in the world do liberals or the ACLU have to do with this?

And I really try not to engage in name calling on this site. But glenn, "Darwin was right?" You are an asshole.

Chris, no one on this board... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Chris, no one on this board is judging how these girls lived thier lives. They are trying to keep other young people from killing themselves. If driving fast enough to get a SUV airborne is not stupid I don't know what is. The only sanctimonius asshole here is you.

But I can't believe that... (Below threshold)

But I can't believe that none of you ever took fooolish chances when you were teenagers.

We all did. Because we were, as J put it, "'stupid' [or] 'young' or 'foolish' or 'inexperienced'" -- the fact we lived to outgrow our stupidity gives us a perspective on it that kids need to hear and heed so they won't repeat our mistakes, possibly i8n far more spectacular and tragic ways.

That far outweighs any "hypocrite" bull$#!t that some may wish to direct at us for trying to do what's right.

You have to remember that s... (Below threshold)

You have to remember that spurwing isn't a person, it's someone's idea of a funny joke in the form of a comment bot [that's my conspiracy theory, and I'm stickin' to it - hey, it would have saved Chris some grief]. It's never funny or relevant, and never talks to actual commentors. Best to ignore it.

Being overly sensitive to the subject and its treatment won't change the fact that there should have been no way for those girls to be out in that car - they didn't hotwire it - and it shouldn't have taken someone coming along the wreckage for them to be found and reined in.

No one is advocating a public beheading of the stupid, or pretending like there is no social fallout. It's precisely because it's a tragedy that it is being lamented, albeit in anger. There's little blame, which could be heaped on a number of heads in greater detail but isn't. It's limited analysis, which is the other point of blogging it. You can't teach the dead.

I guess when I read "her pa... (Below threshold)
Chris:

I guess when I read "her parents didn't try hard enough to protect her from her own stupidity." it sure seemed to me that JayTea was judging how people lead their lives. Or "there should have been no way for those girls to be out in that car." So everyone here keeps their car keys locked up at all times? This is the kind of absolutist statement I'm talking about. Read an article in the paper, and start making judgements based on almost no information? I'm sorry, but that's the definition of sanctimonious to me. If you want to call it hairsplitting between being stupid and doing a stupid thing, fine. But several comments directly blamed the parents. I don't see how anyone who's had teenagers could say parents are responsible for every single move their kids make. If the kid commits some horrible crime, then yeah, you've got to look at the parents. But kids have been speeding in cars since there have been cars. It's wrong, it's dangerous, we should do whatever we can to discourage it. But implying that the accident wouldn't have happened if only they had been better parents is wrong and cruel. I suspect they're blaming themselves now more than you ever could.

And glenn did say "Darwin was right." I was reacting to that, as well.

Just on the facts, I don't ... (Below threshold)
Synova:

Just on the facts, I don't think we can blame the parents. They may enforce strict curfews and do everything they can do and just this one time allowed their daughters to be out late to watch the game. We don't know.

People really *really* don't like to blame the kids for their own deaths either because they didn't *deserve* to die, no matter what they'd done.

Only it's not about what anyone deserves, it about what they *get*.

Every one of us had kids we went to school with die from some stupid thing or another. The son of a neighbor of mine died because he went into a grain silo and suffocated. Oops. A guy I had a crush on ran his car into a tree the year after he graduated high school.

It's incredibly harsh to say "Darwin was right" but... he was.

I thougt you would be inter... (Below threshold)
goddessoftheclassroom:

I thougt you would be interested to know how the lesson went.

I had the students write first (thanks, Gringo, for the whole quote--I'll show them Monday) for 25 minutes as they will have to do on the SAT. I then gave them Jay Tea's post and the articles. They read silently. I told them that if any of them were killed in a wreck, I would be devestated. I told them I loved them (and I really do), and that NOTHING is worth driving too fast or driving drunk. I said that their parents want them home safely even if late--take the yelling if they have to. I told them NEVER get in a car with someone's who's been drinking or to drive themselves--they could call me if they had to and I'd take them home.

I plan to have a follow-up discussion Monday. I'll let you know what they say. The essays were pretty good, but not surprisingly, some of the 10th graders are too literal and thought Mr, Heilein was advocating genocide for the stupid...

BTW: I'm not suggesting that Miss Murphy was speeding or driving drunk; these are just two preventable causes of deadly accidents. God bless and comfort her and her sister's family and friends.

I showed this article to my... (Below threshold)
Doc:

I showed this article to my 17 year old daughter. From her response I feel it did not "sink in". As a father what do I do? Shake her and say, "Read This" over and over till you get it? If anyone has a suggestion I am all ears. So here I sit feeling so very sad for the families and friends of those girls For the survivors, I pray and wish them peace at this difficult time.

Three more things;... (Below threshold)
glenn:

Three more things;

1. I am an asshole where young people killing themselves in automobiles is concerned. Once they are dead they are gone forever, and 17 is way too late to educate them about the dangers life holds. My father was an insurance adjuster for 37 years, I saw him come home from a crash site and weep because some son or daughter or father or mother had killed themselves doing something they got away with "every other time"

2. Darwin was right and so was Newton. the laws of physics are not subject to change just because we don't like the outcome they produce.

3. Takes one to know one.

I am from Northborough...al... (Below threshold)
momforlife:

I am from Northborough...although I graduated 5 years ago, the news of this tragedy was very upsetting to me. While I was still a junior in high school a very close friend of mine died...to all of you who say young adults are stupid, please look at your own generation and the people that surround you. Have you, your family, or your friends, ever driven too fast, or drunk, or as teenagers driven with no concern for anything but having a good time? JayTea-why don't you keep your mouth shut, you have no idea what these girls friends and family are going through. Unless you have never done one wrong thing in your life...don't throw stones...leave these people alone to grieve and celebrate the lives of Meghan & Shauna...stop worrying about how other people raise their children...unless you have any, you'd never know the hardship of teaching a child right from wrong, or helping them learn who they are, and what they want out of life...

Calling her stupid is very ... (Below threshold)

Calling her stupid is very mean to say to them even if they went against the law. You need to feel pity for 2 15 year olds and a 17 year old. I mean, how mean could you be? 2 are dead. You think they're family would call them stupid?

Dear Jay Tea, What disturbs... (Below threshold)
Alison O:

Dear Jay Tea, What disturbs me most about your posting is the incredible lack of empathy for other people. These parents are suffering every minute, day and hour. I hope so much they can find a way to feel happiness in life again, but they will always hurt.

I deeply object to your judgmental attitude as well.

You should walk a mile in someone else's moccasins before being so critical and contemptuous of those girls and, worse, their parents. As one friend of mine once said, referring to himself and his wife, "We were the best parents in the world, until we had children."

As parents, you make hundreds and thousands of decisions. You do your very best. You pick your battles. Sometimes you give a good kid a little extra freedom. Sometimes, things just happen. They happen fast and then you can't rewind time, even though you'd give anything to, even though you'd rather die than lose a child. They have lost two.

Most of us are lucky to have survived the dingbat, heedless things we did as teens. I know I am. Most of us got lucky. We survived. A few do not.

These parents were devoted to their kids. I just want to leave you with this: think for a minute about all the love and care they poured into their daughters, all the hopes and prayers they had, the hundreds of baths and dozens of birthday parties, the homework supervision and parent-teacher meetings, the practices and games. Now you think about all it takes for those decent and loving people to get through even one day right now. I just hope they never see your words. I really hope you reconsider them.

I think that this comment l... (Below threshold)
Angel:

I think that this comment lacks just as much judgement as the author says that the girls had. For one, you did not know them or their family, or the effect that it had on our community. Try greiving the loss of two girls who were far too young to be taken from us, and praying that the other girl will be ok. You have no right to say anything in response to this accident, and frankly no one asked your oppinion.
Yes, kids might to stupid things, but as a kid I know that despite all this nobody deserves for this to happen. Two beautiful girls died in this accident, who were amazing people that no one wanted to lose. I think that your comment lacks so much empathy, and is one of the coldest, harshest things I have ever seen. Next time, keep your comments to yourself. Maybe your parents should have taught you that as an adult stupidity is still present, and I feel your comment is a prime example of this.

So whats th... (Below threshold)
colleen:


So whats the story? You are either a parent of young children, where you still believe that you can plan each and every moment of you child's life or you are childless. But most importantly: You are an idiot. People like you have never suffered a loss like this before. If you don't think that every parent worries that their child will be killed in an accident due to INEXPERIENCE you are mistaken. Have you taken in to account that Massachusetts requires 6 hours of driver education hours, with 6 hours with parental supervision alongside of "traffic school". The laws are designed to placate a few groups. The sad reality is that we are accepting the fact that we will lose teenagers due to inexperience. this has become acceptable to many.43 percent of first year drivers will have a crash. If they are lucky they will live and have to deal with the aftermath of bills, insurance and another round of driving instruction. I wasnt that lucky. You foolish bastard. You call them stupid. I call you ignorant.

I am a parent of four beautiful children. One of whom died in a car crash at the age of 16 years 6 months and one day. the day of his license actually. SO FUCK YOU.

How dare you judge others? You couldn't possibly have teenage children, that even with constant guidance are driven to test the boundries.

How about the jerk "survival of the fittest". Come on please, tell me you are the model the rest of us should emulate.

The sad part is that you must have lost that part of your memory, not bright enough to understand or maybe you are just a self rightous asshole.

Why don't you actually get off your ass and do something to change the laws instead of patting yourself on the back on your so unoriginal thoughts.

Believe me, as angry as I am that I see uninformed, critical, self-absorved crap like yours, I still wouldn't wish this horror on you.

My son, now dead, at the age of 16 donated his organs, his eyes, his skin, , his very strong heart. what have you done?. God help me I hope you have something to offer but a replay of the O'Reilly factor. Why don't you go out and do something? Why must we hear the same crap from people who don't have a freakin clue?

My son believed in free speech, believed it was important to debate. We as a family agreed that experience in a situation gave you an upper hand. So Go Ahead: DO SOMETHING

Dear Angel, I had not check... (Below threshold)
Alison Osius:

Dear Angel, I had not checked back or would have responded sooner. I think you misunderstood me. You and I are on the same page. My intent was to defend the girls and their parents against criticism. These girls were wonderful kids. They also didn't do anything I haven't, or that most of us didn't, especially when young. The rest of us were just lucky.

I felt so strongly about defending the family that that was the first posting I have ever made in my life. I hope this is my last.

Colleen, I am so sorry for your loss.

I also have a 17 year old s... (Below threshold)
Lynn Montavon:

I also have a 17 year old son, and he hasn't learned anything from his two speeding tickets and an accident. The accident occured in town and thankfully neither him nor none of his four friends were hurt. However, of the couple that he hit, one is still seeking medical treatment for a cracked sternum. My son was very remorseful after the accident and has paid all of the tickets for his speeding and attorney fees and anything relating to the tickets or accident. He was banned from driving anywhere except school and his sport practices for months in the hopes that he would learn about the responsibility and seriousness of driving. However, just last night, my husband and I caught him speeding on our rural country road. I don't know what else to do to get through to him. I am scared to death of something happening to him or to someone else. We require him to check in all of the time and restrict his comings and goings and still he manages to get into trouble as it relates to driving.




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