© unknownJackass star Ryan Dunn died at age 34 in a Pennsylvania car crash
Last Sunday a jackass killed himself and a friend with a 3 a.m. drunken drive down a Pennsylvania highway at 140 miles per hour (225 kph) in a Porsche. It flew 80 feet, bursting into a fireball when it finally hit a tree.

What's amazing, regrettable and surprising about this episode (I refuse to call it a 'tragedy;' even his family and friends should have seen it coming) is that some people - a whole lot - are shocked, saddened and grieving this person whose only talent was acting like a moron at the most immoral, objectionable levels.

Many of these fans - as well as his entertainment industry enablers at MTV and his production company that I choose not to name because of its crude reference to male genitalia - have been trying hard to convince us that the world has lost a fine human being, a talented star and all-round great 'dude.'

That would be one Ryan Dunn, age 34. It's a bit much for just being a cast member of the MTV show Jackass in which males with more testosterone than brain cells did things such as . . . well, let me describe a few that appear on the website as among "the 50 greatest" Jackass movie stunts. Be warned, it's offensive even when described delicately!

There was the mask/helmet worn by a cast member and filled with the fresh flatulence of a female accomplice, allegedly in 'the name of science.' Alleged science learned that if you continue this idiocy long enough, you'll also be dealing with your own vomit. Clearly a hilarious 'great moment' in cinema!

Another shows a male cast member allowing a baby alligator to bite his nipple 'to see if it leaves any marks.' Knee-slapping funny and way cool, eh? You don't want to know about the naked 'star' with a large, lit fireworks stuck where the sun don't shine or swimming in sewage lagoons.

In another, the 'boys' had a contraption that launched grocery carts off a loading dock at about 70 miles per hour (with one of the guys in the cart, of course). In Mr. Dunn's case, they closed the loading dock door: Yeeeeehaaaaw . . . Thud!

Recall the suggestion his family and friends should have seen his premature death coming. The only difference between the stupid, ill-advised stunt that killed him and the ones on TV and the silver screen is that nobody was filming it for millions of young (almost entirely) viewers who have somehow come to believe that deliberately being stupid, injuring oneself or others and otherwise behaving like a moronic jackass (give the industry credit for finding an appropriate name) is hip, cool, fun and desirable.

Fans have been, of course, strongly encouraged to think that by MTV and an industry that increasingly wallows in its own foul effluent lacking substance and ethics. It must be close to half of today's celebrities that are known merely for exceedingly bad and boorish behaviour. Not one has any discernible talent or ever expressed a coherent, meaningful thought. Their agents know how to keep publicity going, daily, over something as little as a new outfit. If that fails . . . expose yourself!

It's a sad, sorry commentary about our society. Is this our version of Roman gladiators for mass amusement to distract the rabble? Or public executions to satisfy a primal bloodlust among our basest souls?

Whatever it may be, it is neither complimentary nor positive for our civilization. The 'civil' part has been totally lost in many quarters.

Fortunately, not in all quarters. It was encouraging to read through public comments under the CNN story on Mr. Dunn's death. At least half of them had no sympathy, period. Serves him right for drunk driving, not to mention for being 'an idiot,' was the common theme. One nominated Mr. Dunn for a Darwin Award for voluntarily removing himself from the human gene pool.

The distinction walks a fine line, but I don't celebrate Mr. Dunn's death any more than I did Osama bin Laden's death, yet I also cannot mourn or feel sorry for them. When you continuously, stupidly tempt fate, fate eventually wins. Thank probability. Mourn not fate's justly earned victims, rather mourn what they tell us about our society.

I cheer film critic Roger Ebert who wasted no time publicly stating "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."

There's a self-posted Internet photo of Mr. Dunn drinking in a bar a short distance from the crash site just before his death (a reflection of today's rampant narcissism in which people believe the world is interested in their every mundane breath). The TMZ entertainment website quotes a 'drinking buddy' as saying Mr. Dunn had at least three beer and three shooters before his race to meet death.

It's reality, unscripted, not tragedy. It's illegal. It's stupid. It's irresponsible. It's courting death. It's putting innocent others at risk. It's a conscious choice. It's criminal. It's a form of Russian Roulette/suicidal behaviour.

Nor was this an 'accident,' which implies bad luck, perhaps understandable error and lack of significant blame. Mr. Dunn's adult life and 'career' is evidence to the contrary.

Responsible people and media should stop making excuses and using euphemisms. Drunken drives ending in death are not 'accidents.' They're predictable, highly probable and nobody these days can credibly claim they didn't know better.

Sadly, grossly irresponsible behaviour is also 'entertainment' these days, with nary an ethical quibble, let alone qualm, among producers, promoters, actors or fans. They write this off as a 'great loss' and a 'horrible accident,' blithely ignoring their own considerable culpability.

Norbert Cunningham is the Times & Transcript editorial page editor. His column appears here every Friday.