I boggled the other day when I read in the LA Times about 15-year-old Troy Driscoll and 17-year-old Josh Long’s six days adrift in a 15-foot sailboat off the coast of South Carolina. At first I thought these two kids were just incredibly stupid (though also incredibly lucky). After reading more about their story, though, I’ve begun to suspect that they’ve just been really horribly educated at the private Christian school they attend. I confess I’ve let my snooty blue-state side run away with me, imagining the Medievel educational system that prepared them for their ordeal by giving them a thorough grounding in hymns, prayer, creationism, and doing what you’re told, but overlooked teaching them anything about biology or geography, and failed to foster the slightest degree of common sense, critical judgement, or initiative.
Of course I don’t really know Troy and Josh, don’t know the forces that have shaped their lives. And at least in the Darwinian sense, their abundant good luck appears to have entirely made up for their educational shortcomings. Their DNA is still very much in contention for being passed on to future generations, as frightening as that is. But in the same way that right-wing webloggers feel free to construct grand morality plays about news items that illustrate, to their minds, the failures of secularism and tolerance, I see this as a frightening parable about the dangers of religious conservatives’ attempts to overhaul the education system.
Here are a bevy of links, in hopes one or more of them will continue to work as the news sites rotate their content into the great bit bucket:
- Adrift at sea for 6 days, boys kept hope afloat (LA Times)
- Prayer helped keep drifting teens alive (Fox News)
- Rescued teens say final day at sea felt different (The Sun News/Myrtle Beach Online)
- Troy Driscoll returns home (ABC News 4 Charleston)
- Finger-pointing starts in S.C. sea rescue (Washington Post)
Some favorite snippets:
Troy couldn’t stop asking questions. Dude, he asked Josh, what will you do with me if I die? If I die, will you eat me? Do you think that’s Africa in the distance? If we land in Africa, should we become missionaries?
Note that when the boys were picked up, they were drifting about seven miles off Cape Fear. They had covered about 100 miles during the six and a half days they drifted, trending mostly north by northeast, parallelling the coast. Which they never bothered trying to reach, apparently, being content merely to drift, sing hymns, and pray for divine intervention.
Supposedly they started out with a single paddle. Assuming they didn’t throw it overboard as “useless” (which they did with their fishing gear on day two, at least according to one account, though most of the articles generously refer to the fishing gear only as having been “lost”), they should have been able to make a knot or two of headway, taking turns paddling. Assuming they were bright enough to figure out the general direction of land (doubtful, I realize, given their apparent degree of navigational clue), they would have been able to reach shore on day one, or day two at the latest.
Of course, then there’d have been no “miracle.”
ABC News 4 Charleston:
Troy Driscol was the last to leave the hospital. He was picked up Tuesday afternoon in a limo and then stopped at Cathedral of Praise Private School. Troy saw his classmates for the first time in almost two weeks. Later, his fellow castaway Josh Long joined him at his mother’s home. The two told their story again to friends and family crammed inside.
“I’ve had boating classes, I’ve been around it my whole life. It was just an accident. It happened. It wasn’t like we were trying to go out in the ocean. We were just trying to get in between the sandbar and beach”, says Josh Long.
Um, no. I’ve had boating classes, Josh. I’ve been around the ocean my whole life. You, on the other hand, are a poster child for nautical ignorance.
ABC News 4 Charleston (continued):
As a joke, a friend gave the two the book “Sailing for Dummies”.
Photographers from the Post and Courier took the families’ picture for People Magazine. The boys have been contacted by the Oprah Winfrey Show, Montell Williams, Time Magazine, and many others. The boys say they’re interested in writing a book.
Oh, no doubt. I’m sure congregations from one end of Red America to the other will snap that book up, eager to learn how faith can bring about miracles in these doubting times.
“What they did was incredibly stupid,” said L.J. Wallace, who hosts a radio marine show in Charleston, S.C.
Amen to that.