Graciousness Holds Sway Here

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It is, no doubt, obvious to you by now that I am a cold, cynical, judgmental bastard who has no problem heaping piles of epithets and related abuse upon the idiots of our world.

Let it not be said, though, that I am not a BENEVOLENT cold cynical judgmental bastard who has no problem heaping piles of epithets and related abuse upon the idiots of our world.

And as an example of my benevolence, I hereby grant a pass to one Michael Brenner, student journalist for the Southern Illinois University paper, the Daily Egyptian. Whether he was fooled, or in on it, he gets a pass, because if he was fooled, I don't blame him, and if he was in on it, well, it was for a paper called the "Daily Egyptian", so who gives a shit, really?

By now, you either know what I'm talking about, or need the precis like the Daily Egyptian needs a better name. In 2003, Brenner wrote a story about Kodee Kennings, an eight-year-old girl whose father, Sgt. Dan Kennings, was shipped off to Iraq. Since her mother was dead, Kodee was being taken care of by Colleen Hastings, and the paper ran a series of puff pieces on and letters from the family until this year, when Sgt. Dan tragically lost his life fighting for the noble causes of sharia and pissing off the Sunnis.

That's when the paper discovered that "Colleen" was really SIU student Jaimie Reynolds, "Kodee" was ten-year-old Caitlin Hadley, and "Dan Kennings" was one Patrick Trovillion. The whole thing was a hoax. Reynolds says Brenner was in on it, in a Jayson Blair career-boosting move; Brenner says he didn't know jack; I don't care either way. Because focusing on Brenner, who was either appropriately lazy or inappropriately underhanded, allows us to ignore the REAL IDIOTS of the story: Trovillion and young Hadley's parents.

Because neither the child nor the fake soldier were apparently in on it. Young Caitlin was told she was going to be in a movie, and that everyone she talked to was part of the movie, even though there weren't any cameras. And that's fine for Caitlin. She's ten. You expect ten year olds to believe stuff like that.

But this went on for TWO YEARS. For two years, the Hadleys let their friend Reynolds take their daughter from Kentucky to Illinois to "be in a movie", and never once asked to visit the set? To be there for filming? Only started when the movie never seemed to get finished. Absolutely fucking amazing, and something that at least Caitlin's mother realizes. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I just realized that I didn't know this girl. In the profession that my husband is in, we move and meet new people all the time*. What if she'd never brought Caitie back? We feel like we're idiots." - Tawnya Hadley, who really needs to run with that feeling right now. But as domb as they are, I'm afraid that the Hadleys have no cake.

The Hadley's can't have any cake, because Patrick Trovillion TAKES THE FUCKING CAKE. He was IN THE MOVIE. He'd been portraying Sgt. Dan Kennings for TWO YEARS, talking to reporters and strangers, with no visible cameras, nobody yelling "Cut", making a movie that appears to have consisted entirely of talking to reporters from a college newspaper. And all that time, according to the AP, he "believed he was portraying a cocky soldier in a legitimate movie." This doofus probably thinks The Truman Show was a documentary. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"This really chaps me a little bit. That ain't no way to treat our armed forces." - Let me get this straight. You've spent two years pretending to be a soldier because you thought you were in a movie. You talked to children in church groups about your "ordeal" because you thought all those little kids were in a movie. And you're A BIT CHAPPED because the ruse you were somehow retarded enough to be an unwilling participant in represents a vague insult to the spirit of our fighting men and women?

Next to Trovillion, the reporter looks like Bob Fucking Woodward after genetic brain-enhancement therapy. Sure, you're supposed to fact-check. Sure, you're supposed to be infinitely suspicious of all your sources. But all he was doing was running cute, sad little letters from a cute, sad little girl in his cute, sad little practice paper. If Judith Miller can be a fucking martyr, than I can give this guy a pass.

*Richard Hadley is, unfortunately, not a gigolo. He is a Nazarene pastor. But it would have been really funny if he were a gigolo.