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Kennedys and Death

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"Do I Add Michael Kennedy to DPS or Not?"

My dilemna was that while, to some, he was a celebrity by virtue of birth, I generally eschew that rationale for DPS. One of the earlier DPS curators believed that the Kennedys had a special place in death and added almost all of them to the list. Maybe a future curator will reinstitute them, but I deleted most of them.

The first round of "Kennedy Deaths" (Joe, Jr. in 1944, Kathleen in 1948, John in 1963 and Robert in 1968) were genuinely tragic events that were basically random acts. Joe, Jr., a pilot, died in WWII while on a mission. Kathleen, virtually ostracized from her family for falling in love with a Protestant, died in a post-war plane crash. John and Robert were both shot by members of the lunatic fringe. And, finally, little Patrick Kennedy, John's youngest son, died shortly after his birth in early 1963. While many people today probably don't remember Patrick, it was a very eerie thing in the early '60s to hear about any infant's death, much less the death of the child of the sitting president of the United States.

From the late '60s through the early '90s, most of the Kennedy-related deaths were due to old age (Joe, Sr and Rose) or disease (Jackie). It's harder to feel as bad about the deaths of people who didn't die too early. These events, while sad, aren't truly tragic. Let's face it, we're all going to get to that point sooner or later.

The one exception to this "lull" was the death of David Kennedy in 1984 from drug abuse. A drug-related death is always tragic to the family experiencing it, but it's not the same thing as an assasination or a wartime death. A drug-related death is always 100% preventable by the victim.

In early 1997, Michael went from relative obscurity to notoriety when his wife Victoria (daughter of Frank Gifford and his first wife (not Kathie Lee)) alleged he was having an on-going affair with a teenaged babysitter. After a few months, the teenager, now 19 and a college student, refused to press charges against him for statutory rape. So Michael emerged from relative Kennedy obscurity to being, as his cousin John said, "A poster boy for bad behavior."

In fairness, even before Michael's death, there was some attempt to rehabilitate his image. Most people said that despite the affair, he was a good father and served the community by running a non-profit group that helped poor people pay their utility bills. Volunteers, celebrity or not, rarely get many kudos. And he and Victoria may have been in the process of reconciling.

However, if ever there was a completely pointless and completely preventable death, it was Michael Kennedy's. I feel really bad for his kids, some of whom saw their Dad get killed when he skied into a tree. But if they learn anything from this horrific experience, it should be to listen to the Ski Patrol when they tell you to stop behaving like a bunch of idiots. And to compare the death of this Kennedy to the death of his father, uncles or even his aunt is to demean their deaths.

And so, I decided that I would not add Michael Kennedy to DPS.

I think the "jury's out" on the unfortunate death of his younger cousin John. Some have proposed John's flight as worthy of the Darwin award, but I really don't. For him to make that flight was not completely unreasonable - it's an issue about which rational people could disagree.