The Serpent and the Fool


Here’s a shocker for you: a Pentecostal snake-handler in West Virginia died after being bitten by a poisonous snake.

“He lived 101/2 hours,” Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine. “When he got bit, he said he wanted to die in the church. Three hours after he was bitten, his kidneys shut down. After a while, your heart stops. I hated to see him go, but he died for what he believed in.”

That quote may seem just a tad absurd from a rational point of view. Well, it is likely a bit more insane than you think. That quote isn’t about the man who was bitten: it is from him. The above quote was recorded last year from the late Pastor in regards to his experience watching his own father die from a snakebite.

This man watched his father die of an injury that resulted from recklessly and needlessly handling a dangerous animal. In the name of tradition, this man decided to do the exact same thing himself, following along the same path as his deceased father. Unsurprisingly, he met a nearly identical fate.

There are a few spots along the road where this fellow could have avoided his fate. Maybe after seeing his father slowly die, he could have decided that maybe snake-handling isn’t the best way to go about a Sunday morning. Maybe if he had gone through the proper channels to host his public event (featuring lethal animals), he would have been told by Wildlife officials that his event would absolutely in no way be allowed.

“We did not know that this event was happening, and if we had known about it or if we had been asked for permission, permission would not have been granted,” Hoy Murphy, public information officer for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told ABC News.

Maybe if he had been brought to a hospital immediately, he would have had a greater chance of survival.

Vanover said Wolford was then transported to a family member’s home in Bluefield about 80 miles away to recover. But as the situation worsened, he was taken to a hospital where he later died.

I am not going to relish in this man’s death, or hail this result of unreasonable thinking as a twisted victory for humanity, or nominate this man for a Darwin Award. This is a fucking tragedy. That anyone dies such an easily preventable death due solely to poor rationale and vapid thinking is a tragedy. I’m not saying he isn’t at fault for his own demise, because he absolutely was. This man was a victim of his own foolishness, his personal delusions, and his family’s needlessly reckless archaic practices. That doesn’t make him less of a human. He still left behind family, just as his father did. He will have mourners. I can only hope that this time the casket serves as a more poignant caveat.

You can read the full story here.

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About Gordon Maples

Writer of the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog and the (Plot)opsy Podcast. A bad movie expert, if there ever was such a thing. Movie nerd, professional organizer, and political progressive.
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One Response to The Serpent and the Fool

  1. Pingback: What I’ve Been Reading: May 31st | amandatheatheist

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