Sometimes the story just isn’t complete without a photo …or two. From True’s 30 May 2004 issue:
Complete Nail Care
A construction worker in Lancaster, Calif., is expected to make a full recovery after accidentally being shot in the head with a nail gun — six times. Three of the nails penetrated his brain; one entered his spinal column, but luckily not his spinal cord. Witnesses say Isidro Mejia, 39, fell from the roof of the house he was building onto another worker who was using the gun below. “The guy holding the nail gun was grabbing to keep from falling, and just gripped tighter on the trigger,” said a Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigator. “It’s a nail gun they use for framing. It can drive nails through 2-by-4s.” (Los Angeles Times) …It’s the first time L.A. cops have said it: a Mexican guy really was framed.
And here are the amazing photos — actual x-rays of Isidro Mejia’s injuries. He is expected to make a complete recovery. It took four days to remove all the nails in delicate surgeries, taking care not to create additional damage.
I was surprised to later get a complaint about the tagline on this story. That was from Lucie in Rhode Island:
I feel the final comment on the nail gun story was pretty cold hearted and unfeeling. It was a clever comment, but a quick joke at an unfunny situation. Think about the people involved, and how they have to make a living. The Mexican population lives in a constantly put down situation. Bad pay, little respect, poor living conditions, etc., and now a national joke about a pretty painful accident. I’m not a “bleeding heart”, but I am a woman who has lived 70 plus years and is finally getting the picture about respecting others.
In my reply, I noted to Lucie that that it’s patronizing and paternalistic for her to presume she needs to speak for others about how they should feel about their own nationality and what should offend their pride. And I noted that her statement that Mexicans all live in poor situations could well be considered racist — I know plenty of Mexican-Americans that are intelligent, successful, and hard-working pillars of their communities, and it’s quite unfair to lump them all together in such a negative way!
To her great credit, Lucie replied: “I know I did lump them all together and that was wrong. It just hit a button with me and I responded. I will try from now on to ‘think before I write, and even more before I speak’. I apologize for my inadvertent smugness.”
So if a white lady isn’t the best spokesperson for the Mexican-American community, who would be? Well, let’s see… hmmmm…. I’ve got it! How about some Mexican-Americans! Several were a bit bothered by the concept of others telling them when to be offended. Here are just two (and I got no opposing letters from anyone, Mexican-American or otherwise, other than Lucie):
I’m of Mexican ancestry — first generation American so I consider myself Mexican-American. I grew up in East Los Angeles. When I first read your story about the poor construction worker who was shot with the nail gun I thought your comment was pretty funny. I have witnessed first hand how racial differences can cause tension and problems. I grew up both respecting and fearing the local police. Times are what they are. However, we do need to step back and laugh at how ludicrous the situation is. I grew up in a lower income neighborhood but have made it out of the “Barrio” and moved onto other things. I’m currently working as a web security engineer. I did not take offense at the tag line, I laughed out loud. This is from someone who once got a night stick in the gut as a teenager for walking through the wrong neighborhood in Pasadena. If we can’t laugh about it then we have to cry about it and I’d rather laugh and keep moving forward. Keep up the great work. –Sal, California
I grew up in Orange County and I am Hispanic, Mexican… brownish. While I have witnessed and experienced racism against ‘brown’ folk all over these United States and feel I have a strong grasp of what is outrageous and loathsome treatment of man by other man, I can truly say that your tagline was still funny and in no way offended me. Sometimes when a serious discussion or debate or idea happens in the midst of humor, the humor remains after the pause. –Louis, California
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