“Uncle Joe” once said:
A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. I’m not entirely sure what he meant, and it’s possible that it lost something in translation. I take it to mean that we are more affected by one death we are personally involved in, than a million we know little about.
I’ll admit that when I read about many strangers dying in some distant land, it’s a lot less upsetting than hearing about a single person dying whom I happen to have met; even if the victim is someone I only met a couple of times, their tragic death will still make me pause to re-evaluate things.
However, if I subsequently hear that their tragic death was due to autoerotic asphyxia…somehow I can’t help pausing to re-evaluate again. When Tory MPs do it, it doesn’t really elicit surprise; but to suddenly find out such a thing about someone you hadn’t previously had reason to flag as a complete deviant, that’s a different matter.
I don’t think I’m a particular judgemental person, and nor do Meyers and Briggs. I think I’m reasonably hard to shock, too. Still, a few days ago I was wondering how or why a certain person ended up dead, and now I’m thinking that maybe I’d rather not have known.
In a way, AEA is even more tragic than suicide. When your death makes Elvis’s demise look dignified, it’s inevitably going to color how people remember you. The prospect of achieving long lasting fame via News of the Weird or Fortean Times probably wouldn’t be much consolation, if you were around to be consoled.
I still remember the photograph of the poor guy somewhere in Latin America who was crushed to death by an earthquake whilst in the middle of attempting to make love to a chicken. Now that’s bad luck. Not that I believe in luck, really, but I do believe in not tempting fate. So if you, dear reader, are in the habit of staying home alone and choking yourself into semi-consciousness for a good time, please just stop. It’s not how I want to remember you. Buy a chicken or something.