Wednesday, May 04, 2011
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There are all kinds of clowns in the public square, sad clowns, mad clowns, bad clowns, all looking for a reaction from people who should know better.
That isn't news.
Still, some of these recent public comments have exceeded the usual quotidian idiocy, have they not? They're beyond stupid, beyond ignorant, beyond misinformed and even beyond irresponsible.
But enough about Donald Trump.
We're talking today, as people who should know better, about future former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who knows very little beyond how to push our buttons. Mendenhall was back on Twitter the other day with some mind-bending observations about the death of Osama bin Laden. This was barely six weeks after he was all over Twitter in support of Adrian Peterson's unfortunate observations linking slavery to the National Football League.
By now you're familiar with his comments, calling to mind the timeless admonishment that, were Mark Twain alive to deliver it today, would go, "It's better to remain silent and thought a fool than to tweet and remove all doubt."
That kind of wisdom and that direct quote has alternately been attributed to Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Groucho Marx, Samuel Johnson, Silvan Engel, George Eliot and ultimately to scripture, all of 'em to pretty smart people who failed to get the sentiment through many post-modern skulls.
By 11 a.m. Tuesday, Steelers president Art Rooney II was himself tweeting that he found Mendenhall's comments fairly incomprehensible.
"I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments," Rooney tweeted. "The entire Steelers' organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon."
Turns out, though, that Art can relax.
Mendenhall was a sports management major at Illinois. He knows what he's doing. He wouldn't tarnish the Steelers brand by mocking the burst of pride and relief that swept America over the demise of the most viciously incorrigible terrorist on the planet. He knows better than that, doesn't he?
Previously, Mendenhall's intellectual field had been difficult to identify. He was obviously not a history major, as proven by the slavery comments. "Adrian Peterson is correct in his anology (sic) of this game," he tweeted March 17. "It is a lot deeper than most people understand (no kiddin'). Anyone with a knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could see that these two parallel each other."
Last I checked, no one was dodging the NFL draft by fleeing to Canada. No one is forced to play football, Rashard. This must have played well in Dublin, where the United States ambassador to Ireland is only the man after which the Rooney Rule is named, only the first-born son of The Chief, one of the first NFL owners to have African-Americans on his roster.
All of that history somehow escaped Mendenhall's notice, perhaps because he was more of a structural engineering major.
"I just have a hard time believing," he said in this week's tweets, "that a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style."
I guess that would be based on his knowledge of redundant structures as they relate to static and dynamic loading within certain architectural precepts against the exponential temperature calibration of exploded jet fuel, which is amazing when you consider that Mendenhall was out of Illinois after three years -- it usually requires five years of undergraduate work to even get into a professional program for structural engineers, with certification still years away.
"It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak," Rashard said of bin Laden. "We've only heard one side."
This is where Mendenhall joined the clowns. This is just wrong. Osama bin Laden's had plenty to say before and since Sept. 11, 2001. He has released videotapes, audio tapes, al-Qaida training films; he has done everything but tweet and guest host Regis and Kelly. Who can ever forget -- other than Mendenhall -- the glee behind his wiggling fingertips as he explained and pantomimed on video the collapse of the World Trade Center, the object of his own conspiratorial slaughter of nearly 3,000 Americans?
Why should anyone directly scarred by that awful day, or anyone directly or even indirectly involved in the decade-long effort to eradicate the source of all that heartache, have to stumble over the unconscionably insensitive tweet-ravings of a Steelers running back?
Santonio Holmes tweeted himself right out of town with observations that, next to these, were relatively benign. I hope Mendenhall joins him, Twitter Dumb and Twitter Dumber.
As an American, Mendenhall has rights. Because it's a great and confounding country, he has a right to his mouth just as he has a right to an AK-47. How 'bout don't go shootin' 'em off.
Gene Collier: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11124/1143869-150-0.stm#ixzz1LOLvuFdf