Okay, I know how old this poem is. I don’t think it will be new to most of you. The only reason I’m posting on it is because I’m sick of the misinformation. Don’t bother to criticize or praise the poem, please.
(If you’d like to donate to MADD, go here. I’d also encourage you to seek out other possible places to donate – be skeptical and critical!)
“Somebody Should Have Taught Him” is a poem “reprinted with permission” of Jane Watkins that was published in the first volume of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. Seems to me that means she owns the copyright, which may mean she created it or perhaps just wrote it down. The poem is from 1996, but resurfaces every few years with a bogus story attached – or at the very least an unverifiable story. These stories range from it being an e-mail chain letter “petition” by MADD to (see below) a Facebook post with a claim that a reporter listened to a dying girl speak the words and then wrote them down.
Oddly, someone has taken the rhyming out of the poem this time, perhaps to pretend it’s not plagiarism? Granted, it seems the author either never wanted to stop plagiarism or gave up on trying a long time ago.
Okay, let’s face it: No person short of maybe Shakespeare lying on pavement, in shock, and dying of blood loss and serious trauma could get those words out of their mouth. If you read the original, this becomes even less believable. Why do people make up stories like this? Isn’t the poem enough?
It’s not exactly high poetry, but the original has a pretty strong rhythm and a powerful message for the intended audience – young teens. It’s poignant, even if we don’t like to admit it. Lying about the thing and altering it to contain fewer rhymes doesn’t contribute in any way to, well, any part of the situation.
Then, there’s this photo accompanying it on Facebook:
I think the audience is supposed to believe the photo accompanies the reporter/dying girl situation. Yet I’m pretty sure this is a reenactment. Not positive, but think about a few things:
- It’s broad daylight and the pictured are wearing formal dance clothing
- The windshield is peeled back and the girl is lying in the nice, cleanly open space.
- The car in the background is crunched all to hell, but the white car does not appear to be crunched on the corresponding side. In other words, these appear to be two car that were in accidents, but not with each other.
- There’s a man standing calmly to the right of the photo holding a pole of sorts. A sign for the audience, perhaps?
- Where are the emergency workers? The blanket to cover what we can assume is supposed to be a deceased victim? They never leave victims of accidents like this uncovered for long.
- Again, it’s broad freaking daylight. That looks like red corn syrup to me.
A little skepticism, please? Maybe, if you must, share the facebook post with a caveat? “Poem taken from Jane Watkins, there’s no actual petition/movement/etc – mostly I just want you to not drink and drive.”
If you’d like to donate to MADD, go here.