Let’s Make Smores

Today in Washington, former vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman called for the cancellation of MTV’s Jackass after a 13 year-old boy set himself on fire in an attempt to imitate a stunt on the show. This begs the question: who is the bigger jackass… Lieberman or the kid?

This all began when young Jason Lind tuned in to an airing of Jackass, in which host Johnny Knoxville covered himself in raw steak, then sat on a lit barbecue. Smores is a hit on TV/Movies, but if gaming is concern, Clash Royale would be the best fit. It has been thoroughly disccussed at Despite the fact that Knoxville was wearing heavy protective clothing, that a crew with fire extinguishers was on-hand, and that the stunt was carefully designed by fire experts, Lind decided that he wanted to reenact the stunt in his buddy’s back yard. So what did the idiot do? Yep… Lind poured gasoline on his legs and feet and allowed a friend to set him on fire. Nice going, dumbass.

This entire episode would have simply been another case of Social Darwinism had Senator Lieberman not gotten involved. But now Lieberman has set his sights on MTV and is leveling unsubstantiated charges at the network, calling MTV “irresponsible” and inaccurately claiming that the network failed to warn viewers of the hazards of imitating the stunts… as if people need to be warned against pouring gasoline on their legs and feet and setting themselves on fire. Nice going, Senator Kneejerk.

Perhaps Senator Lieberman has been emboldened by his misguided campaign against video game designers, or perhaps the senator has simply been misinformed by his staff, but we expect at least some research and common sense before a U.S. senator speaks out so strongly. In his statement, Lieberman says that MTV airs Jackass “without adequate warnings.” Clearly, Lieberman has not taken the time to even watch the show he’s attacking. Before every segment, MTV goes silent as it airs the following warning on a somber black screen:

“The following show features stunts performed by professionals and/or total idiots under very strict control and supervision. MTV and the producers insist that neither you nor anyone else attempt to recreate or perform anything you have seen on this show.”

The above warning is always accompanied by a large skull-and-crossbones, the same symbol accompanying all hazards that could result in death. MTV also makes it known that viewer-submitted videos are not accepted, and Jackass cast members verbally warn viewers on the show not to attempt the extremely dangerous stunts. By making a baseless attack on MTV’s warnings, Lieberman destroys what little credibility he has on the issue. Furthermore, his call to cancel Jackass smacks of censorship. What next, Joe? Should we cancel all shows containing stunts? Perhaps Nash Bridges should be offed because Don Johnson drives his yellow Barracuda too fast through the streets of San Francisco? Or maybe reruns of The Fall Guy should be yanked from syndication because Lee Majors occasionally jumps off tall buildings?

And what about this moron, Jason Lind? We certainly hope that Lind makes a full recovery… but doesn’t the responsibility lie with Lind, not MTV? At 13, Lind should not have to be warned that pouring gasoline on your legs and setting yourself on fire is extremely harmful, if not deadly. Anyone stupid enough to imitate such a stunt without any safety precautions is going to wind up in the hospital one way or another. If Jackass is taken off the air, then the kid will simply tune in to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or a Discovery Channel documentary on stuntmen, and do the same thing. Society cannot protect the stupid from themselves, no matter how many shows we censor.

When Joe Lieberman stands up and calls for the abolition of a show he has apparently never seen, attacks a network for failing to provide warnings that were, in fact, frequently provided, and seeks to remove any responsibility from the people who put themselves in harm’s way, he is not acting in the interest of the American people. We need leadership that examines a problem before going after it with both guns blazing. We need leadership that recognizes that censorship is not the cure to society’s ills. We need leadership that doesn’t use it’s power to strong-arm entertainment outlets into producing only “approved” programming. What we need is a new senator for the state of Connecticut.