06 January 2011
Idiots of the Week? Jacob Volkmann vs. U.S. Secret Service
It's rare to find two candidates for this blog's least-coveted honor in the same story but on different sides of a dispute. If anything, however, this week's story gains force from cumulative idiocy. The original idiocy comes from Jacob Volkmann, a chiropractor who has diversified into mixed martial arts. Interviewed on pay-per-view television after his last bout and asked whom he wanted to fight next, Volkmann named the President of the United States, against whom he bore a grudge, as a health-care provider, over last year's reform legislation. To be fair to Volkmann, this statement in itself wouldn't make him that noteworthy an idiot. The response from the government takes the story to the next level. A Secret Service agent was reportedly dispatched to Minnesota to interview Volkmann and clarify the intent of his remarks. Apparently someone higher up considered the fighter's rassling-style rodomontade an actual potential threat to the President's well being -- perhaps on the theory that Volkmann could somehow lure Mr. Obama into an octagon, take him down promptly and lock him into a guard. If this part of the story is true -- our exclusive source for it, so far, is Volkmann himself, -- I worry about our faltering capacity to distinguish between self-evidently frivolous stupidity and the more sincere threats that don't publicize themselves so blatantly. Whatever Volkmann's politics, the setting and occasion should have proven his "threat" to be a mere asinine joke, and certainly not the sort of threat to a president's life with which the Secret Service should concern itself. If true, the story may confirm some suspicions of diminishing tolerance within the government for strongly-stated dissent. If it isn't true, and at this early point I won't rule out that Volkmann is hoaxing the media, then he definitely wins the Idiot award on his own.