Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In The News & Out Of Their Minds

In America there is no shortage of evidence that stupidity has become its own cottage industry, what with the preponderance of dumbness being glorified these days. The tide of pure daftness and idiocy seen in today's culture, in franchises like Jackass, America's Funniest Videos and Fear Factor and exemplified by mentally challenged personalities like Adam Sandler and Paris Hilton, has inevitably manifested itself in new depths of doltish behavior among our ordinary citizenry, who resourcefully think of new and original methods to compete with the depraved imbecility of their more famous cohorts in cluelessness.

To wit, I give you three recent examples of Americans who simply refuse to follow in the foolish steps of their forebears, instead insisting on blazing new pathways in pathetic propesterousness. And if congratulations are hardly in order for these exploits, perhaps a salute to this new kind of insanity would lend some perspective to an interesting but disturbing course the nation has taken.

29-year-old Mark Downs is the Little League coach who impulsively decided it was so important to win a baseball game about to be played by eight- and nine-year-old kids that he bribed one of his own players to hit a teammate with a baseball so he could not play in the upcoming game. Now, the kid who got beaned was autistic, and Downs thought playing the kid would harm his chances of advancing in the playoffs. So with 25 bucks of his hard-earned money, the nefarious plan was set in motion, and now Downs faces up to five years in prison after being convicted on charges of corrupting minors and criminal solicitation to commit simple assault. Now he gets his chance to stoke his competitive juices on the prison yard ballfield. Hey, they say playing sports builds character.

20-year-old Jake Brahm apparently craved attention so much he thought nothing of using the Internet to post fake warnings of terrorist threats against seven NFL stadiums last week. Brahm, a Wisconsin native and undoubtedly a disgruntled Green Bay Packers fan, probably reasoned that anything trumped watching his underachieving team suffer through another losing Sunday, thus the feeble attempt to prevent that weekend's slate of games from occurring. Nice try, Jake, but funny thing: there happens to be a proverbial plethora of high technology available that can pretty much trace anything you do on the computer, from porn and hate mail to, yes, ill-advised threats to national security. The FBI may not be able to catch the Anthrax killer after five years or locate Osama, but some bored kid with a laptop? We're your guys!

29-year-old Michael Johnson is -- er, was -- the convicted death row inmate who gave new meaning to the word impatient. Not content to let the government do the dirty work for him, Johnson enterprisingly fashioned his own demise just hours before the criminal justice system was set to officially inject him with a lethal dose of whatever it is they use in Texas; maybe it's called Bush Juice in honor of the former governor known for the frequency of state-sponsored executions during his tenure in office.

But back to our man Johnson. Not only did he set the land speed record for inmate killing himself closest to scheduled execution time (an oh-so-fugacious 15 hours away), but after stabbing himself with a makeshift razor, he thoughtfully found the time to leave behind a still-undisclosed message written in his own blood on the wall of his cell. Strikes me as an odd time and place to begin a literary career, but perhaps it was regret expressed at missing out on his last meal before he went bye-bye. Let's hope the money the state saved on Johnson's execution was passed on to the taxpayers. We hate to see ineffecient government spending here at WardensWorld.

Unsettlingly Ironic Postscript:
No sooner had I finished the above post than another act of brazen sporting-related dementia pops up in the news. In a story dated a mere four hours ago, it seems 40-year-old
Wayne Derkotch of Philadelphia, presumably a typically well-adjusted Eagles fan, became so irate over his 7-year-old son's lack of playing time on the local peewee football team that he pulled a firearm on the head coach. Not content with the normal spouting of malicious verbal abuse that accompanies most youth sporting events, Derkotch's proactive approach on behalf of his little darling also went unappreciated, resulting in charges of aggravated assault and related offenses for the elder Derkotch. Nice role model for the youth of America!

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