For some reason it seems like SCHADENFREUDE, the German word for "Joy at someone else's misfortune" has been on the tip of a lot of tongues lately. Who better than the Germans to create a word that gives dimension to NA NA NA NA NA. However, while there are those who think that only the Germans could come up with a word to describe the thrill of watching Donald Trump declare bankruptcy again, it turns out that even Scandanavian countries have words for the same thing, according to Wikipedia. On the other hand, only a Teutonic mind could wrap itself around donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän.
A local paper here devoted an entire humor column to the subject of
SCHADENFREUDE. What I found most amusing is that anyone could possibly
think that SCHADENFREUDE might make an appropriate topic for humor. It
feels like laughing during a funeral service to me.
But perhaps I reacted prematurely.
This morning we learn that a government lawyer in the only case against
a 9-11 hijacker -- since the rest are dead -- has committed an
egregious act of stupidity. Apparently she improperly coached witnesses
by emailing opening statements and trial testimony to them. She did
this even after strict instructions from the judge against it.
content with improper coaching, this renegade also offered up her own
opinions of the case, including harsh criticism of the government's
position and theory of the prosecution. She went so far as to convey
her considered opinion on how and what she would have said differently
Now the government will probably
have to settle for life in prison without parole and no longer have the
option of exercising the death penalty, much to the chagrin of
vengeance minded relatives of 9-11 victims. Sorry, I meant to say
The lawyer involved, whose resignation will be requested shortly, I
imagine, will soon discover that her career path has been diverted if
not brought to an end. Like the neophyte female attorney who dissed the
job offer she received from a partner at a law firm and foundher rude email
correspondence to him posted across the country, if not the world, by
her disgruntled suitor. No doubt ending her career before she had one.
The question becomes, how would SCHADENFEUDE apply here? I'm sure there are
members of Al Quaeda who think it would apply across the board as far as the government's
misfortune is concerned.
But for me personally, on closer inspection, the government is merely collateral damage. The
SCHADENFREUDE, if appplicable, belongs to the lawyer who must
have assumed she was operating in a vacuum of sorts, protected from the
consequences of her actions. I work for the government; you can't touch me! is how her business card reads, I believe.
The unbridled arrogance of what she did should therefore make her upcoming misfortune
all the more joyful. The government's
embarrassment is just the unfortunate fallout from her behavior.
But having firmly affixed the blame so that SCHADENFREUDE can be used
correctly in a sentence, I still can't fully embrace it even for that
idiotic attorney. It makes me uncomfortable. I guess I don't like
someone's fall from grace. Even if it seems like they absolutely
positively deserve it. Perhaps, because I have often felt like I was
teetering on a similar precipice myself. Or could it be that so often
the fall isn't as catstrophic as we might like, but cushioned by
infusions of cash and connections. For instance, I would seek death for
the Enron guys. With that off the table, anything else pales by
So I do not practice SCHADENFREUDE. In fact, my very first concern for that unfortunate woman, when I
heard what a hinky maneuver she pulled, was whether or not she was