“We Raised An Idiot”

I woke up to the news that a University of Virginia student, Otto Warmbier, was detained by the North Korean government as he was leaving that nation after a visit. The North Koreans said he’d entered the country with “the intention of destroying the country’s unity”


What about this says “Welcome!”? (image via USMA Archive CCbySA2.0)

Now, I’m sure that our government is doing everything it can to get Mr. Warmbier back across the Pacific quickly, so he doesn’t have to take incompletes on all his spring semester classes. We should all expect that sort of help when we’re in a jam; whether we travel to North Korea for a lovely beach vacation or to destroy some unity.

Nice Choice, Otto

But how far should the government go to rescue a young man who made a questionable vacation choice which put him in harm’s way? If Warmbier and his family have the money to send him to North Korea, we can reasonably infer that money could have been spent sending him somewhere less perilous. Being a tourist in a nation that has detained a number of your countrymen seems a bizarre choice. And when I say “bizarre”, what I mean is “stupid”.

So now we’ll hear noise from both the US and North Korean governments while this thing is resolved. And Warmbier’s family will hold a press conference and discuss how they “just want their son back” (understandable) and that his detention is “not acceptable” (true). But there’s one thing neither the United States government nor the Warmbier family will admit – the truth. Otto Warmbier is an idiot who got his ass in a crack by going somewhere most reasonable folks wouldn’t consider going.

The Door’s Open But The Ride Ain’t Free


He doesn’t make bad choices? He takes selfies while he pees. Oh yeah, if Otto ever says “here, use my phone” this photo explains why you shouldn’t. (facebook)


I am all for bringing Otto home. It is the right thing to do. But, in cases like this, “the right thing to do” should come with strings attached.

What strings? Well, to start, our State Department should release a statement which says, basically, “we told him this was a bad idea and he did it anyway”. If the Warmbier family says anything to counter that or takes offense, the government should put out a second statement which says “fine, go get him yourself.”

The second string is that during their “we just want our son back” press conference, Otto’s family must admit that he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I don’t even care if they believe it. It doesn’t have to be an admission. They just should say what so many of us are thinking.

They can say that their son is an idiot in whatever terms they’d like: “he makes bad choices”, “we told him this was a stupid idea but he did it anyway” or even “look, raising kids is a crapshoot. We tried our best, but we raised an idiot. We’d appreciate whatever help we can get in bringing our idiot home.”

Finally, as Otto Warmbier is handed over to whoever the North Koreans give him to, he should be forced to record a statement saying “Sorry for all the trouble. I’m a simpleton who shouldn’t even be allowed outside, much less out of the country.” No statement? His rescuer hands him back to the Koreans.

It is government’s job to protect us. Sometimes, it even has to protect us from ourselves. Whenever our taxes go toward saving someone from their own willful stupidity, I don’t believe that an admission of truth is too much to ask.

16 Comments on ““We Raised An Idiot””

  1. *this is me standing on a chair clapping*
    So spot on there doesn’t seem much more to add. I have always wondered why people (idiots) would go to places like this and not expect to get detained if for no other reason than they are idiots.

  2. He was with a tour group. I don’t know why he would be detained and not the others.

    When I was in college, a dance troupe I belonged to went to El Salvador. The director thought it would be a good idea to go to Guatemala. You know, for funsies. Even though their visas didn’t permit it. They got in just fine, and then they couldn’t get out. Because of their director, who was old enough to know better. I hope there’s an explanation for this that doesn’t make most of the party involved look like professional level doofuses.

  3. The family shold be billed for the cost of the rescue as well.

  4. pegoleg says:

    Don’t worry – he’ll be home soon. Although we refuse to negotiate with kidnappers, it is our recently formed policy to trade for our Idiots Abroad. The guvment is just figuring out which half dozen terrorists they want to send over.

  5. I could not agree more. I’ve been living in China for years and I meet so many extreme tourists who want to visit dangerous places. There’s a group here that will arrange tours and visas to North Korea. Nobody comes back and says it was an amazing country. You’re allowed a very guided tour of a bunch of grey state buildings in Pyongyang and that’s it. The only reason to go is to be able to brag and say you’re idiot enough to go to this dangerous place. I feel like the only people willing to visit are likely to be irrational attention-seekers who don’t have a grasp on the real risks. If enough of those people visit every year, one or two are going to do something that gets them in trouble while visiting.

    • omawarisan says:

      Right, and we expend political capital and big bucks to get them back…why? Because they are our idiots. I think we should let them keep them. We’ve got enough idiots to go around.

  6. Ahdad says:

    Truer words have not been spoken. What the fuck is he doing there in the first place? It’s like going to Syria to check out the surf and then be surprised that ISIS is there too. There are simply no pills for stupid.

  7. ottis says:

    He will be squealing like a pig soon. Any idiot that goes there doesn’t deserve to come back.

  8. ItReallyHappened8899 says:

    I lived in China for 10 years, 2002 to 2013. I did some crazy stuff, and could get away with it from 2002 until about 2007, when the attitude towards foreigners changed from admiration to tolerance… and then from 2008 to 2012, I saw the country change, the people, and the police, to being more nationalistic and not wanting to put up with expats stuff. Unless you had some money to pay them. One time (the last), I was almost arrested, they made the other party, actually the one not at fault, pay 10,000RMB (about $1500USD). But they threatened me… I just denied it all… and claimed I could not speak good enough Chinese.
    I had a lawyer in China for another issue (personal), and they were on the Chinese side (the respondent) even though I was paying them. These countries are corrupt. The rules are hard, but it all boils down to who you know. In North Korea, I assume it is much the same, but the reality there is different from China. He should have gone to China if he wanted to play games. North Korea is too hard line. Yes, he was an idiot if he stole anything in North Korea, and had no money to try to bribe his way out before it was escalated. Hard, cold, USD, and at least a couple grand.

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