Polish stereotype shot in head

This story, from Reuters, is making the rounds of the world’s media sites today. It’s a classic, end-of-the-news chuckle that manages to hit almost every Polish stereotype in less than 200 words:

A Polish man living in Germany went about his business for five years without noticing he had been shot in the head because he was drunk when it happened.

Police in the western city of Bochum said on Tuesday doctors found a .22 caliber bullet in the back of his head after the 35-year-old went to have what he thought was a cyst removed.

Presented with the 5.6mm projectile, the man recalled he had received a blow to the head around midnight at a New Year’s party “in 2004 or 2005,” but had forgotten about it because he had been “very drunk,” a police spokesman said.

Let’s list them shall we:

1. Not too bright — didn’t realise he’d been shot in the head.

2. Drunk — of course.

3. Economic migrant  — lives in Germany

4. Boneheaded — bullet fails to penetrate thick, primitive skull.

This is all highly amusing and expected, but what really astonished me was the final paragraph of the story:

Police said they were not treating the incident as suspicious as the bullet might have got lodged in the man’s head when a reveler fired a gun in celebration.

“It may have been a shot fired up in the air which entered his head on the way down,” the spokesman said.

What? German police are under the impression that firing guns wildly into the air is a common feature of Polish New Year’s celebrations? I must have missed that.

Typical New Year’s celebrations in Warsaw, apparently.


10 thoughts on “Polish stereotype shot in head

  1. PMK says:

    Tricky shot.

  2. bob says:

    I have been waiting for a pithy set of comments about this guy. Looks like he by grace of the neanderthal skull escaped being a victim of Darwin’s principal.

    Hey, I thought the guy with the balaclava in the picture was one of the guys guarding the cross! I seem to recall his balaclava on the news.

  3. You can tell these guys in the picture are not Polish since they are angling their rifles in such a way that the bullets do not rain back on their own heads

  4. Steve says:

    It’s interesting how one person’s ordinary news item is another person’s appalling stereotyping. Let’s go through the list:

    1. Not too bright – nothing about this in the item – it explains that he was drunk.

    2. He was drunk. Anything specific about the Pole? No – it was a New Year’s party – a huge number of people around the world were drunk.

    3. Economic migrant – presumably, but the item just gives a standard newspaper description and doesn’t even hint that there is any issue here.

    4. Boneheaded – where does this come from? It’s not this in the article It is not even clear whether it penetrated his skull or not. However, given the calibre – .22 and the thought that it might have been a ricochet, it would be surprising if it had, although I suppose over-imaginative journalists wouldn’t realise or care about this. Otherwise they would be saying the Pole must be soft in the head.

    Perhaps I just consider the whole thing anodyne as there are similar reports every few years of people wandering around not knowing they have bullets in them. On the other hand, I can see how easy it would be to change this into an anti-Polak story and Reuters may think their item will be taken up on this basis. However, they themselves have been completely neutral.

    Fascinating where the prejudice comes in. After all, what neutral person would assume that a Polish man in German would be attending a Polish New Year Celebration. Wouldn’t it have been a German Celebration?

  5. island1 says:

    I think you’re right that the Reuter’s item was, essentially, neutral, but I also think so many sites/papers picked it up because it was funny in a Polish-stereotype way. (I haven’t seen it anywhere in the Polish media, by the way). The bit that really astonished me was, as I said, the assumption that Polish revelers would be shooting firearms into the air like a bunch of comedy desperados.

  6. scatts says:

    You only have to look at where the Germans park the planes flying to Poland to understand what they think about Poles. Every bloody time I’m in Frankfurt the Polish plane is at gate # Arseendofnowhere! ;)

    So, bullets in Polish heads are for sure not worth investigating. I suppose death might have complicated matters a little.

  7. Stamp says:

    That’s funny story! :) As a Pole I opt for enhancing typical checkup here: colonoscopy, mammography, bullets in the head.

  8. island1 says:

    I don’t say this often but: LOL :D

  9. Name says:

    shit happens…be it to a Pole or a………….

  10. Chris Owens says:

    @ Ryszard Wasilewski:

    Quite true. As the report says, “doctors found a .22 caliber bullet in the BACK of his head”.

    It would seem Poles shoot each other in the back of the head at New Year’s celebrations.

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