The Dutch are possibly the most tolerant people in the world when it comes to drugs, prostitution, same-sex marriage and euthanasia. But mess with their dominoes, baby, and you are history.
A sparrow knocked over 23,000 dominoes in the Netherlands, nearly ruining a world record attempt before the bird was shot to death yesterday, the state news agency reported.
The unfortunate bird flew through an open window at an exposition center in the northern city of Leeuwarden where employees of television company Endemol NV have worked for weeks setting up more than 4 million dominoes in an attempt to break the official Guinness World Record for falling dominoes Friday night.
Only a system of 750 gaps in the chain prevented the bird from knocking most or all of the dominoes over ahead of schedule, “Domino Day” organizers were quoted as saying by the NOS news agency.
The bird was shot by an exterminator with an air rifle after it was cornered.
“Hapless sparrow unspared after domino debacle,” San Diego Union Tribune, Nov. 15, 2005.
International condemnation fell swiftly on the domino stackers.
Germany: “Death by Domino… It is best not to get between the organizers of “Domino Day 2005″ and their precious tiles. The price? Death, as one sparrow found out.”
Associated Press: “The bird was shot by an exterminator with an air rifle while cowering in a corner.”
Australia: “FOWL PLAY IN DOMINO CHALLENGE”
United Kingdom: “Sparrow executed for disturbing dominoes”
None were as harsh as the Dutch themselves. No less than 7 organizations have protested the shooting because the sparrow is on the endangered species list. The man who shot the sparrow even received a death threat.
“Is it really necessary to kill a bird that knocked over a few dominoes for a game?” asked a member of one of the Dutch animal protection agencies. “I think they were awfully fast to pull out a rifle. If a person started knocking over a few dominoes they wouldn’t shoot him would they?”
They might have. Apparently everybody involved in Domino Day 2005 was on edge after a local radio station disc jockey offered 3,000 Euros to anyone who could knock down the dominoes before their scheduled toppling on Sunday. Extra security had been hired to protect the dominoes against any radio station fans.
Meanwhile, newspaper headline writers had a good time with this one:
Los Angeles Daily News: “Bird knocks over dominoes, meets tragic end for gaffe”
Detroit Free Press: “Bye, bye, birdie”
Scotland’s Daily Record: “THE DOMINO EFF-PECKED”
I think my favorite commentary came from the international football (soccer) site, Goal.com:
A poor sparrow was shot to death in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, while cowering in a corner, after it flew through an open window and knocked over 23,000 dominoes that were going to be part of a world-record attempt of over 4.3 million dominoes. So what did they do to the Dutch soccer team after they got waxed at home by Italy on Saturday?