‘Schadenfreude’ Over the Fall of General Petraeus?
As someone who at one time championed for a fifth Star for Petraeus, it would be pusillanimous of me not to comment on the General’s fall from grace.
Of course I am disappointed and saddened by what the General is alleged to have done and by the fate that has befallen him, respectively. However, I still admire his military career and I am still grateful for what Petraeus has done for his country.
I just read Shaun Mullen’s excellent piece on “Plain Talk On The Criminal Justice System…” and I agree that our justice system needs fixing and that our laws are much skewed, especially when it comes to minor drug offenses and other minor crimes, in particular when committed by minorities.
Having said that — and I know I am going to be excoriated for this — I do also believe that someone’s service to his country, especially on the scale and merit of Petraeus’, should be considered — a little. Not knowing the extent and severity of Petraeus’ offenses, I don’t know if the sentence is way too lenient. Everyone will have his own opinion on this. However, I personally believe he has been punished sufficiently.
Benjamin Wittes writes a piece at “Lawfare,” agreeing with another writer that the deal “reveals [a] two-tiered justice system for leaks.” Wittes also refers to a piece at At Bloomberg View, where columnist Eli Lake argues, “while wrong, Petraeus’ sins are just not that big a deal…” and to another piece at Foreign Policy, where Rosa Brooks warns against shadenfreude.
Regardless of where one stands on Petraeus — now you know where I stand — all are worth reading.
Referring to the media’s reaction over this tragedy, Rosa Brooks writes, “If an excess of schadenfreude could kill, half the Washington press corps would be dead right now” and points out, “if [the existence of what looks like a double standard ] is the lesson schadenfreude tempts us to draw, we’re missing the more important point: Our legal framework for classifying information and dealing with its disclosure is all messed up.”
“Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis, e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem,” wrote Lucretius. (Loosely: “It is pleasant to watch from the land the great struggle of someone else in a sea rendered great by turbulent winds.”) True, no doubt, but recall also Schopenhauer’s words: “To feel envy is human, to savor schadenfreude is devilish.”
And you never know: Your face might stick that way.