If forget my shopping list there’s no chance I’ll remember its contents. However, I tend to remember the shafted. In my eyes, the latter is more important. Today I want to mention two of their number.
Richard Jewell’s story played out in 1996. The Olympics in 1996, like the Boston Marathon in 2013, was bombed. Eric Robert Rudolph was the asshole who planted the bomb and he’s in jail now. (Sadly, he wasn’t drawn and quartered but jail will suffice). Rudolph is convicted, guilty, and evil. We know that now. We didn’t know it then.
Richard Jewell was a earnest and slightly goofy mall cop who discovered the bomb, called it in, and got folks out of the way. Everything he did was the right thing to do. Law enforcement thought Jewell’s quick discovery of the bomb was “too convenient”, decided he must be the perpetrator, and (as is common) leaked their conjecture to the press.
Jewell was pilloried by the media, jailed and questioned by law enforcement, and generally treated by everyone as if he was bomber scum. I still remember it. Eventually level heads prevailed and Jewell was exonerated.
By then Jewell was a wreck. By most accounts he was never quite the same until his death in 2007. Tragic!
Suppose you did a heroic thing and found your life, honor, and reputation in shambles. Would you recover? Remember, Jewell heroically saved lives and they ran him through the meatgrinder.
Now lets talk about Paul Kevin Curtis. Several days ago poisonous ricin was mailed to President Barack Obama, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and Sadie Holland a judge in Mississippi. Paul Kevin Curtis was accused, jailed, and questioned.
You might have heard about it? It was shoehorned in the news between reports about Boston’s tragedy and their subsequent experiment with martial law (I’ll comment on that some other time).
Mr. Curtis sounds like a bit of a fruitcake. He has a theory about medical malfeasance (which may or may not hold water) and he’s an Elvis impersonator to boot. Much like Jewell, he’s an easy mark.
I’ll bet dollars to donuts you heard about the crazy Elvis impersonator with tinfoil hat theories who got all evil and terroristic. One sure sign of his manifest evil was a quote taken from his Facebook page and plastered all over the Internet:
“To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner in its continuance”
Apparently the ricin perpetrator used the quote too. You could therefore presume Curtis is a poisoning monster and indeed the quote was formally mentioned as part of the charges against Curtis. From my point of view it’s no more proof that Curtis is a bad guy than an indication he’s a deliberately moral fellow. Ironic eh?
Here’s the part that is inconvenient. Curtis didn’t do it. Ricin isn’t the simple baking of evil cupcakes that journalists who failed chemistry make it out to be. Eventually everyone agreed that Curtis could no more make Ricin than he could build a lunar capsule. Shortly thereafter Everett Dutschke was arrested and charges against Curtis were dropped.
So tell me. How many of you have heard news of Curtis’ vindication? I found it buried on the web but I sure as heck didn’t see it widely broadcast. Curtis is fortunate that he wasn’t pushed deeper down the rabbit hole like Jewell. In a way, we are all fortunate too.
Let us pause a moment to honor Jewell and Curtis. One a hero that got shafted mightily and one a bystander that was spared some (but not all) of Jewell’s fate. Neither gentelman deserved to be shafted.