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Don’t try this at home, kids

I always assumed that if you were 18, you were capable of making intelligent decisions, but Paul Smith from Sarasota proved me wrong.

Smith was injured while jumping off of a five-story apartment building into a swimming pool. He was a little short in his leap for the pool and shattered both of his legs. Apparently, Smith and his friends, who also jumped but didn’t get injured, were trying to mimic a stunt from jackass.

I know it’s rhetorical, but why would someone do this?

Smith isn’t the only one. He’s the most recent, and he’s local. Both the television and movie version of jackass have explicit warnings about not trying the stunts at home. The TV show even has the policy that video submissions will not be viewed. Furthermore, they make it clear that the stunts are done by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Smith and his imbecilic friends do not qualify as professionals.

But did Smith deserve his injuries? He certainly should have known better. He’s 18, for crying out loud. He can vote. Because he’s technically an adult, it makes the “impressionable youth” argument a bit more difficult to swallow.

“To willfully do something like that and be injured, it makes you shake your head,” said Sarasota County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Burns.

I’ll definitely agree that a lapse of judgment like that is scary, especially given the fact that there are numerous deterrents to what he did.

Janet Stone, Smith’s mother, had this to say, “I’m angry at the media. I’m angry at Hollywood. I’m angry at the jackass movie. I’m angry at MTV. It’s trash. And they show all of this stuff.”

It’s interesting that she’s not mad at her son or his friends. She’s not even disappointed. Smith was 18, and it’s no longer his mother’s job to stop him. Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for the stupid things we do.

Given all the warnings, disclaimers and the general dangerous nature of the stunts being performed, it’s beyond me why anyone would want to reenact them. Having this mindset, I can’t blame the show. Jumping off of a five-story roof is dangerous even when there are professionals supervising it. Without supervision, it’s almost suicidal. In fact, people jump off of tall buildings to commit suicide. Doing so with your friends for fun is stupid, and there’s no other word for it.

It’s people like this who make me wonder if we need to hand out IQ tests before entering movies. I’m hoping that Smith’s friends don’t similarly injure themselves while chasing a roadrunner.

According to MSNBC.com, Smith was a high school dropout. I don’t know if that explains it or not. Maybe they were slated to learn that just because something is on TV doesn’t mean it’s safe to do the week after he quit.

The movie or television show should not be blamed. People will do stupid things no matter what. It’s a small group of people who do things like this. It’s hard guessing what will inspire copycats and what won’t.

Entertainment always shows things that are outrageous; that is how they stay interesting. By and large, people are able to distinguish between what’s safe and what’s not and make their decisions accordingly. People need to be able to make those decisions. Examples like Paul Smith and the others who were injured copying jackass stunts should provide enough sobering examples of what not to do.

Chris Ricketts is a senior majoring in englishruinedeye@aol.com