The stupid, it burns

Subtitled: I initially laughed, but did stop when I got to the part about the guy being severely burned.

Ron Nielson, a 50-year-old Palm Bay (FL) resident, set himself on fire while reportedly attempting to light a wooden cross that he had soaked with gasoline.  His wife heard him screaming and came out and doused the flames with the garden hose.  He was airlifted to an Orlando hospital and reportedly has second-degree burns over 40-50 percent of his body.

Many of the news reports refer to Nielson’s actions as being Halloween-related.  Some of the headlines include “Florida man burns himself while setting up Halloween decorations,” “Fla. Man Suffers Burns Lighting Halloween Display” and “Man burned when Halloween decoration erupts in flames.”

Other headlines seem to indicate this was just a Halloween “prank”:  “Man burned setting up cross-burning Halloween display,” “Man burned after Halloween ‘prank’ involving gasoline, wooden cross and fire.”

The New Times Broward-Palm Beach titles its article “Florida Man Burns Himself Setting Up a Wooden Cross as a Halloween Decoration.”  Just so you are sure you understand that the burning cross was a Halloween decoration, nothing more.  Not sure if this guy planned to keep feeding his burning cross with gasoline every day for more than a week, or if he planned to add another burning cross each day until Halloween, or if this was just his run-through for the big day.

Also, although one of the news reports stated an unidentified neighbor said Nielson had been setting up other Halloween decorations earlier in the day, those alleged decorations cannot be seen in any of the film footage of his house.  Just saying.

The police also referred to this incident as a “prank” gone awry:

“It started as some kind of prank, apparently, and involved a wooden cross. We don’t know if he was trying to light the cross or the candles but when he did, his clothes caught fire.”

–Yvonne Martinez, Palm Bay police spokesperson.

Typically lighting candles doesn’t involve gasoline, but whatever.

According to, fire officials said Nielson told them the burning cross was a joke and wasn’t aimed at anyone.

Reportedly, a fire marshal also told Martinez that one of the problems was that the area was not well-ventilated.   I guess the other problems seem self-evident.

So here’s the lesson.  Racism is just a prank gone wrong, and it’s only gone wrong if you manage to harm yourself while doing so.  Additionally, racism during holidays is exempt because on holidays, the well-known racism freebie law comes into play.  Finally, if you are going to light a wooden cross on fire, please make sure it is well-ventilated.

That is all.

1397 Wacker Avenue, Palm Bay, FL

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