Monday, January 05, 2004

A Croc of...

Most of you have seen the story about Steve Irwin of Animal Planet's "Croc-hunter" fame holding his one month old son in one arm while feeding a dead chicken to a 13 foot crocodile with the other. The boy's name is Bob. He's one month old and they call him Bob. Not Bobby, or boo-boo, or Pumpkin, or Ignatz or Whatchamacallit - but Bob. Bob the one month old. Doesn't ring right.

I've beat up on this guy before but, having lost the Christmas spirit and with the New Year coming in like a horseless manure wagon rolling downhill with no one at the reins, I'm glad to do it one more time. I've always thought he was a phony. Nobody can be that enthusiastic all the time, especially about big lizards with green marbles for eyes and roadkill for brains. Something else had to be going on.

Said crocodile farm owner Keith Cook, "I think he's a bloody idiot; he's addicted to the attention." Well, that about says it all, but I'll say some more anyway. I've always loved watching him, for example, when he's got a lightning fast, nasty green mamba by the tail and at the same time emotes to the camera, "Don't try this at home!" Okay, Steve. Thanks. We don't have mambas here in Florida, but if you hadn't said something I might have gone out looking for an Eastern diamondback to play with.

Irwin's stunt "drew fire from child welfare groups," inspired outraged viewers to jam the phone lines, and caused a government bureaucracy to initiate an investigation. But no charges will be filed. Irwin promised, presumably with great enthusiasm, that it wouldn't happen again.

In spite of the promise he seems strangely unrepentant. His professed reason for the performance was that "...I would be considered a bad parent if I did not teach my children crocodile savvy because they live here. They live in crocodile territory ... so they have to be croc savvy."

Bob, the croc-savvy one month old. Unfortunately, no one seems to have asked Bob what he learned from the incident.

"It's all about perceived danger; I was in complete control," said the infallible Irwin. Responding to onlookers' fears that he might have stumbled and fallen, you know, had an accident as people do from time to time, Irwin announced that "for that to take place a meteorite would have had to come out of the sky and hit Australia at 6.6 on the Richter scale like in Iran."

Let me work the probabilities for you, Steve. You see, something did hit Iran at 6.6 and 28,000 people died just like that. I'll let the meteorite thing go because I know you didn't mean it. You're too smart to believe that it's more likely a meteorite would fall to earth and kill someone than that you, a mere mortal, might trip and fall. I'll also overlook the despicable rhetorical tactic of trying to excuse your stupidity over the bodies of dead Iranians - among whom were many children - because I know you didn't mean that either. You just misspoke in the panic of the moment. You probably do better when snakes rather than people are hissing at you.

After Murray the croc (yeah, he gives them names to which they respond with the animation of beached driftwood) had snapped up the offered meat, Irwin said to his son, "Good boy, Bob," though it's not clear what Bob the one month old did to earn such lavish praise. Perhaps he visibly swallowed a terrified scream.

Irwin's ultra-intelligent wife, Terri, was in on the stunt, by the way. She "had handed the baby over to Irwin in the enclosure and giggled at the spectacle." You know girls, how they get the giggles sometimes. Kind of cute. "It was a wonderful sensory experience for him (the baby)", she bubbled, her solicitous motherhood spilling over, "He dug it." Seeing as how Bob's one month old, I guess we'll have to take her word for it.

And then she elaborated, likening her children's experience with crocodiles to teaching youngsters to swim.

"I watched children learning to swim at a very young age; they cry, they scream and they have nightmares about the water. Would you rather have a child learning to swim under duress or drowning peacefully in the pond in the backyard? I think teaching children about croc safety is extremely important."

And you know, that's what occurred to me, too - first thing, as a matter of fact. Either give them nightmares or watch them drown. What other options are there? Either give little Bob tooth-filled nightmares or watch him one day get eaten for real. Why can't people see this? Surely this lesson in parenting could be applied to reducing the number of kids who get killed by cars because they run into the street without looking. My parents used to invite me to go play in traffic, but the rest of us just need to do a better job of teaching them how to play near it. Or maybe we could send them to one of those traffic schools for drunk drivers where they could ogle a lot of mangled bodies. I also think we could reduce the number of accidental child drownings here in Florida by simply taking them to the pool and holding them under until their arms start flailing and their faces turn purple. What's worse? as Terri would say. Nightmares about drowning or drowning for real? Fear is the key to success.

In spite of the fact that Steve's been bitten several times by crocodiles and possibly once by a poisonous snake (I haven't been able to confirm it), it's not possible that he might stumble and fall. He and his wife take up so much self-absorbed, mutually sycophantic time on camera that, until this incident, I didn't even know they had children. Now that I do, I can't root for the croc anymore. Somebody's got to raise those kids.



Dear Bill,
Not enough bad can be said of this sort of idiocy. I've heard others trying to exonerate him, but the behavior was criminally stupid . I was appalled and nauseated at the whole thing. What sort of idiot takes the most precious thing in the world into a place where harm, however unlikely, would befall him? Heck, I still walk my five year old to the bathroom if it isn't within sight and stand either immediately outside or at the sinks inside.. I figure around the time he's eighteen, I'll stop doing this. . .
Posted by Steven Riddle email at January 5, 2004 02:05 PM

You'd think that Steve would've known better, after the universal uproar over Michael Jackson's dangling of his baby off a balcony. Maybe he was too deep in the wilds to have access to a radio.
Now let me move from the ridiculous to the sublime. I GOT MY ISSUE OF TOUCHSTONE MAGAZINE THIS AFTERNOON!!!!
Posted by KTC email at January 5, 2004 02:37 PM

I like the name "Bob" for a baby. Steve was a professional and there was little danger. Let responsible parents raise their kids without all the lofty judgement.
Posted by email at January 5, 2004 02:55 PM

Everyone knows when you're a professional, nothing ever, ever goes wrong, especially when working with animals. You know, like Siegfried and Roy...
Posted by KH email at January 5, 2004 03:14 PM

I think people -- all people -- get comfortable with varying degrees of risk, and then don't think twice about subjecting their children to them.
Hardly any of us dare to tempt wild animals. That's Steve Irwin's job. He's very comfortable with it because he does it all the time. So while I believe him when he says he wouldn't put his baby in danger, I don't think he necessarily is the best person to gauge the risk of his recent stunt.
Likewise, the parent who smokes and doesn't believe second-hand smoke is any risk to their child. Or the parent who doesn't drink alcohol until after the kids go to bed but fails to calculate what would happen if the house caught on fire and he/she was too drunk to get the children out safely. Or the parent who forgets to change the smoke detector batteries regularly (guilty party being me on that one). Or the estimated 90% of parents who BUY good car seats for their children but USE them incorrectly.
I think Steve Irwin is an idiot for dangling a baby in one arm and a raw chicken in the other in front of a croc that cannot differentiate between the two tasty morsels. I also think Michael Jackson is an idiot for dangling his baby over a balcony railing 5 stories above the ground. And I think Whitney Houston is an idiot for letting her children live with her illegal drug use. And I think my parents were idiots for letting 14-year-old me date a 19-year-old with tattoos, a beard and a bad attitude. And I think I'm an idiot for believing that a $35 fire escape ladder doesn't fit into my budget when it could mean life and death.
Posted by Sparki email at January 5, 2004 03:44 PM

Steven, I hear you. At some point you will be accused of being overly protective. Don't listen.- KTC: Irwin was offended at being compared to Michael Jackson. I don't know why. They both live in zoos. Got my copy of Touchstone too, and was surprised at what a handsome production it is. Hope you had a merry Christmas.- email: I find that name as ridiculous as "Bob."- KH: wish I'd thought of that analogy- Sparki: I appreciate the (as usual)thoughtful comment, but why'd you have to nail me on the smoking and drinking?
Posted by William Luse email at January 5, 2004 04:39 PM

Even if a croc wasn't near he was being stupid. Holding a one month old with one hand his wrong. You should always support the babies head. Especially at that age.
Posted by Jeff Miller email at January 5, 2004 07:03 PM

You know, guys, I have to discharge some of these babies home with parents who are really clueless. I pray a lot! We really need a Titus 2 ministry in our churches and hospitals, where older women (who hopefully know something from having raised many children) can share and support younger moms.
Posted by alicia email at January 5, 2004 07:51 PM

Good to see you back bloggin'; this post was worth it for the title alone!
Posted by tso email at January 5, 2004 09:12 PM

It's the wife part that gets me. I remember watching one of his shows on Animal Planet when she was 8 months pregnant with their first child. There is wide-eyed, addled Steve trying to poke some monstrously poisoned snake OUT OF ITS HOLE. "Terry, go get me a stick and hold its neck down!"
AND SHE DID IT! How dumb is that?
I would have told Craig, "Get your own damn stick. I'm sitting in the car calling our insurance agent to make sure that you have a bazillion dollars in life insurance for when you get bitten by one of the stupid things."
'Course, I probably wouldn't be on TV, either.
Posted by Terry email at January 6, 2004 12:47 AM

Terry - you're too smart to be on TV.TSO - the bloggin' comes and the bloggin'goes. It could all end tomorrow, but probably won't. If it does, I'll have to give Jeff Miller a week's notice because he gets upset when blogs just disappear. Especially after all the work he's put into this one.
Posted by William Luse email at January 6, 2004 01:17 AM

I think Steve was incredibly stupid. But I am not trying to imply that I have never done anything stupid as a parent. (As a general practice I could be categorized with the overprotective, but there must have been moments of stupidity) I have been fortunate not to have cameras around to capture these moments. Steve, on the other hand, knows that he is in the public eye (lens!) and then makes his moment of idiocy double-dumb.
Posted by Ellyn email at January 6, 2004 07:44 AM

irwin is a currish boil-brained coxcanker who needs to get the dung kicked outta him.
that said, welcome back, mr. luse! i'm giddy with excitement to see you posting again.
Posted by smockmomma email at January 6, 2004 02:17 PM

Yes, Ellyn, we've all done stupid things - by accident.Micki, you have a way with words that I can only describe as inimitable. And don't get giddy. I'm running on last year's leftover fumes.
Posted by William Luse email at January 6, 2004 05:01 PM

Coxcanker! That was the word that did it for me. Perfect. Another spanning the glober.
Posted by tso email at January 6, 2004 05:09 PM

TS - she's got one over at Jeff Miller's that goes like this: "...selfish materialistic sex-sucking pagan eating maggot pies."
Posted by William Luse email at January 6, 2004 05:38 PM

Yeah but that one hit too close to home. I may be a selfish materialist sex-sucking pagan eater but I'm no coxcanker.
Posted by tso email at January 6, 2004 06:09 PM

I'm with you. The reason I know I'm not a coxcanker is that I don't know what one is, and I know the names for all the bad things that I am. Of course, a bad thing could have more than one name...
Posted by William Luse email at January 6, 2004 06:17 PM

you saucy boys! i am learning to enjoy my venum shakespearean-style. it is part of my new year's resolution to stop cursing like a sailor -- since i'll not be able to manage a complete shut-off, i've decided to only curse with "highbrow" expletives. yes, i can taste the irony.
Posted by smockmomma email at January 7, 2004 03:14 PM

If that's highbrow, I can't wait to see your efforts at lowbrow. Anyway, saucy-tongued women do something for me.
Posted by William Luse email at January 7, 2004 04:37 PM

"Bob", huh. It reminds me of a woman I used to work with. Her names for her son were in reverse order.
When he was first born, he was "Robert" and only "Robert". No nick-names or diminutives allowed. Somewhere in grammar school he became "Bob". That lasted until the final year of high school when we noticed had graduated to "Bobby".
If I last long enough I'm going to check in when he's 40 and see if he's Iddy Widdle Snookums.
Posted by John Cahill email at January 20, 2004 03:16 PM

Posted by William Luse email at January 21, 2004 02:50 AM

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