24 September 2008
Idiot of the Week: Global Edition
The moment I saw this story on the MSNBC website I knew I had a winner for this week. The assailant in this case could be the Idiot of the Year if we judged on stupidity alone rather than consequences. For some reason I'm reminded of the old campfire game where kids in a circle whispered a sentence into each other's ears until it came back to the original whisperer utterly garbled. Here we have an American novel adapted into an American movie, then translated into Italian for TV broadcast, and the message reaches this fellow in the final form: "I am the Antichrist, so I must kill a priest." I'm sure we'll learn that the man is mad and thus not responsible for his deductions or the actions that followed from it, but the line separating madness and stupidity is a thin one, and we can see through it easily enough. When someone is so easily suggestible, does that make him merely mad or supremely stupid? The distinction is semantic and legalistic, but whether it is relevant readers should decide for themselves.