Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble,
or else the LORD will see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from them.
Proverbs 24:17-18

Schadenfreude is the joy one feels at the misery of others. It is a human reaction. Evidence, I think, of our tendency toward sin. Sometimes we can’t help it. Other times we revel in it.

The Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards talked about the joy that the elect in heaven must feel when they see the torment of those lost in hell. It is hard to imagine a more unchristian thought, but that did not seem to trouble Edwards. Among the joys imagined in Edwards’ vision of heaven was a cosmic and eternal schadenfreude.

I mention Edwards because in this respect he makes me look good. By comparison, my Schadenfreude is fairly restrained.

In February I posted a blog (“Have You Heard the Joke about the Gay Guatemalan?”) about Representative Bob Watson in response to a comment he made at a luncheon in Providence. He was criticizing the legislature for spending too much time on questions about the medical use of marijuana, illegal immigration, gay marriage, and authorizing more gambling at Twin River. And this is what he said:

“I suppose if you are a gay man from Guatemala who likes to smoke pot and gamble, you probably think we’re onto some good ideas here.”

Representative Watson was arrested at a sobriety check point in Connecticut over the weekend, and is charged with “driving under the influence” and (this is the best part) possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

It’s like skit from “The Daily Show” come to life right in front of us.

Could it be more amusing? And of course we can easily think of several ways in which it could be even more amusing, and there is amusement in that speculation.

Mr. Watson was unrepentant after his gay Guatemalan joke. In a phone interview with the Providence Journal, Watson explained, “I apologize when appropriate and/or necessary,” and he concluded, “I identify this situation as representing neither circumstance.”

My guess is that he will feel differently about this latest incident.

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