I periodically remind people: the stories in This is True are not always meant to be funny. Even the funny ones are often chosen to drive home a point, but sometimes being funny isn’t the way to do that. A good example is this two-story line-up from True’s 3 October 2004 issue:
A study by the Berkeley, Calif., based Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation finds that binge drinking among male college students is much worse than school officials, government researchers, and especially parents ever feared. Ten percent of the male students studied admitted to drinking 12 or more alcoholic beverages in a row, and “many” admitted to 24 or more in a row. “These are levels of drinking at which most men will have passed out or become comatose,” says study leader Paul Gruenewald. The study did not consider drinking by female students. (Reuters) …Right — girls are too smart for that. No need to study them.
After a sophomore at Colorado State University in Fort Collins drank herself to death, her family lamented that it was just “one mistake” that killed her. Not so, point out reporters at the Denver Post. They found the personal web site for Samantha Spady, 19, where she posted photos of herself drinking with captions such as “I was drunk” and “Drunkass me.” Just before her death from a blood alcohol level of .43 percent, she posted “I’m also going to get extremely wasted this weekend.” A family spokesman points out Spady was a great student and a former DARE volunteer, but still insists her death was a “terrible accident” caused by “one mistake.” He admits the family had seen the web site, but hadn’t seen the multiple photos of her getting drunk. (Denver Post) …The real “one mistake,” then, is not opening their eyes.
Unfair? Callous? Read On
Not surprisingly, the second story brought letters. Mark in Saskatchewan, Canada, thought the tagline “seems a bit callous. They may have been blind, but they’ve lost their daughter.”
Yes, my observation is harsh — but it’s real. Again, True’s stories are not all meant to be funny.
Sadly, the parents’ attitude helped enable their daughter’s recklessness; if my telling her story like it truly is helps some other parents (and kids!) wake up to the dangers they bring on themselves, I’ll be very satisfied with how I did it. (After telling this to Mark, he replied, “I understand and appreciate your position, and I hope that you’re right and that someone ‘out there’ will get the message in time to help their own family avoid similar tragedy.” I have my fingers crossed.)
And read the Comments below, especially those from people who truly know what they’re talking about when it comes to this subject. Like the first one. And the second one. And…
Update — From the 21 November 2004 Issue:
After Samantha Spady, 19, a student at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, drank herself to death, the university banned beer sales at its football stadium. But university police say that drunken behavior at games is worse since the ban, not better, because students know they can’t buy beer there and arrive already drunk. Meanwhile, a company sponsoring a Jell-O wrestling tournament in Ft. Collins has canceled plans to donate $100 to a foundation Spady’s parents created in her memory. To attract women, promoter Brian Collins promised to provide free alcoholic “Jell-O shots” to the first 100 women who attended. Collins said there was “no harm intended” in tying the event to the Spady foundation. (AP, Denver Rocky Mountain News) …Harm, maybe not. Profiteering, yes.
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