We’re back after a brief hiatus (we have exciting real-world things to do, you know. If only we could be boring), but don’t hold it against us, because today’s FNTC Featured Essay is one for the ages.
I can just imagine our young essayist (one David McMillan, apparently) sitting down to write this festering pile of SEO-baiting crap. Creativity and vim oozing from his very pores, he clicks on his Google News tab for a spritz of inspiration. Here is a heinous crime committed in Aurora, Colorado, he gasps. And, lo! Here is a completely unrelated, utterly dissimilar heinous crime committed in State College, Pennsylvania.
THERE MUST BE SOME CONNECTION, he thinks. Only David McMillan, though, has the intellectual capability — nay, the courage! — to make it.
And so we’re faced with what is actually one of the worst things I have ever read, so staggeringly terrible in its desperate attempt to connect two wholly unrelated events that I could barely get through it.
What makes a man walk into a crowded theater and shoot unsuspecting moviegoers?
What makes a college football coach protect a pedophile and child rapist?
These two questions might seem unrelated. Indeed, some will surely find the idea of discussing a domestic terrorist like James Holmes in the same breadth as legendary football coach Joe Paterno unfair, inflammatory, perhaps even malicious.
Just stop right there, sweetie. Just close your laptop and go have a nice long think about your life and your choices, because you have actually managed to refute the point of your essay in the first three sentences of said essay.
We should insert a disclaimer here: the good people of FNTC think the situation at Penn State is terrible, that what Paterno did was reprehensible and that everyone should stop martyrizing him immediately.
But the fact remains: Joe Paterno did not walk into a movie theater, clad in armor, armed to the teeth, and shoot 71 people.
Let me reiterate: I’m not equating the two cases, nor are Holmes’s and Paterno’s crimes on par with each other, legally or ethically.
Oh, great. I’m really glad you cleared that up for us and yet are SOMEHOW STILL CONTINUING TO EQUATE THE TWO CASES. JESUS CHRIST.
We continue on: blah blah cover-up blah blah banality of evil blah blah lack of empathy blah. And now it’s time for your regularly scheduled Shakespeare reference, because someone paid attention for about 10 minutes in AP English Lit.
In his lectures on Shakespeare’s Othello, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued that what spurs Iago to destroy Othello is nothing more or less than “motiveless malignity.” That to me is still the best definition of pure evil I know of. Some forms of evil defy post-hoc rationalization. Some people don’t need motives to inflict cruelty. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
I want to print out several thousand copies of this essay for the pleasure of watching them all burn.
I believe that Joe Paterno was mostly a good man. A good husband, a loving father, an outstanding coach. But unfortunately (for himself and others), he made a series of terrible decisions that showed a profound lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims — a lack of empathy that made him an accomplice to evil.
Whether these decisions should define Paterno’s legacy is up for debate. (Sadly for Paterno’s fans, there’s a good chance they will. To quote Julius Caesar: “The evil that men do lives after them;/ The good is oft interred with their bones.”
Please, please, PLEASE, enough with the Shakespeare. This is like reading the Tumblr bio of a precocious but unpopular 15-year-old who reblogs that “Date a Girl Who Reads” post like 20 times a day.
Also, I love the fact that Paterno is one of two evils in the headline but “mostly a good man” in the actual essay.
Here’s the thing: there ARE things to be said about the banality of evil, and what happens when people look the other way, and how evil is not always the man who runs into a theater and kills twelve people. But these are obvious truths — truths we’ve known since fucking Adolf Eichmann said he was just following orders.
At the end of the day, holding up two high-profile cases to point out that one is evil and, hey, this one is ALSO evil is designed for one thing and one thing only: pageviews.
And one of them is mine. Eeeesh.
Guys, this blog is funny.
Maybe you will never be convinced Joe Paterno was a good man who made one catastrophic mistake, but do you have time for just one story?