Rashard Mendenhall: Running back, conspiracy theorist. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Travis Torina/Collector's Showcase of America)

Monday’s assassination of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, prompted a great deal of rejoicing, bringing to mind the old Mark Twain quip “I’ve never wished a man dead, but have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” One onlooker who didn’t appear to take much pleasure in the act was Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, reports the Huffington Post. Mendenhall’s Twitter response not only criticized those who celebrated bin Laden’s long-overdue demise, but suggested that he believes 9-11 was an inside job.

Your latest installment of athletes saying stupid things

Perhaps Rashard Mendenhall felt he could take on this grisly, watershed moment in U.S. history as if it were a blocking dummy:

“What kind of person celebrates death?” tweeted Mendenhall. “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

Taking Mendenhall’s Twitter bombast in segments, first there’s the celebration of death. Ethics columnist Randy Cohen believes that while it is not unethical for individuals to feel relief that Osama bin Laden is dead, there should be limits. Unbridled, drunken revelry over any man’s skull exploding after a surgically precise bullet delivery should not drown out the larger implications.

Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple Los Angeles suggested to the Wall Street Journal that a carnival atmosphere here is inappropriate. Citing a passage from the Talmud in which a rabbi wishes for the death of sinners, the rabbi’s wife corrects him by telling him to wish for the death of sin. Wolpe makes a salient point:

“What we really want is not the end of bin Laden, but the end of bin-Ladenism, and that didn’t happen,” Wolpe said.

Humor the other side, for Mendenhall’s sake

Rashard Mendenhall’s Twitter rant also suggests that the planes that hit the World Trade Center on 9-11 may have been an inside job.

“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Mendenhall has supported the idea of revisionist history. The Chicago Tribune reminds us that he basically stood up for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after Peterson compared NFL players to slaves. The Chicago newspaper also reminds us of this today:

“For a guy who claims to read, Rashard Mendenhall apparently didn’t read about bin Laden issuing a fatwa sanctioning the killing of Americans and Jews in 1988 after being suspected of organizing the killing of them in several previous murderous episodes.”

In a statement on the team website, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II stated that while he has not discussed the Osama bin Laden tweets with Mendenhall thus far, he finds it “hard to explain or even comprehend what (Rashard) meant.”

Sources

Chicago Tribune: http://bit.ly/ms78U8
Huffington Post: http://huff.to/mIV8ud
Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/mO8sGX

Also, don’t make people think you’re a conspiracy theorist… Rashard

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