Photo by mashleymorgan (Flickr CC)
There's a rule that governs scandals – what you end up being dragged through the shit and left in a ditch at night to be pissed on by a bat for is never what you did wrong in the first place.
For instance, people generally don't mind much if you, for example, roger an Alsatian dressed as an evil Nazi Santa. I mean, it's funny and all, imagining you sweating and straining in your fat suit and your bobble hat over a dog. The media obviously goes mad, and gets former Nazis and Christmas experts and canine-National-Socialism-specialists to come on the TV to analyse your technique and speculate on the consequences of your bizarre actions for dog-Nazi-Santa relations. But normal people don't really mind as much as they think they do and the media says they do. In their apathetic, easily amused heart of hearts, all they really think is: Oh, that's a bit silly. Is it raining? Should I put my coat on?
But what they always hate you for is pretending you didn't. They always get you for that. When you've been caught in a lie, that's when they come for you, even if what you did in the first place is much worse. It's now gone so far that the government, or the church, or the corrupt civil servants, or whoever is in charge round here actually feel more bad about lying than they do about, say, murdering nearly a hundred Afghan civilians in the first place.
Here's an example – in 2009, a lowly, bespectacled colonel called Georg Klein, feeling threatened by two oil tankers stuck in some sand in the Kunduz province of Afghanistan, ordered some US warplanes to come and bomb the shit out of them, even though the trucks were surrounded by a crowd of people. Later it turns out that he'd killed around 100 people – no one knows exactly, because they were incinerated. Amnesty International have made a list of 83 civilians who were killed, including several kids.
You'd think that Klein's head would be the first to roll. That's the way these things work – it's always the little skittish guy with the glasses who gets fucked, right? But in this case, Labour Minister Franz Josef Jung, who was defence minister at the time of the attack, Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Defence Ministry Secretary of State Peter Wichert all ended up losing their jobs, not for being responsible at the time of this war crime, but for pretending that it didn't happen, or wasn't as bad as everyone said.
This obviously is bad, but Klein, little sneaky Klein, snuck out, like weaselly Steve Buscemi at the end of Reservoir Dogs with the case full of diamonds. While Jung, Schneiderhan and Wichert now all sit around in their slippers learning water colour painting, wishing they hadn't tried to blag it, the petty official who actually killed all those people for no reason has been utterly rehabilitated – all charges against him have been dropped - he couldn't have known that those kids weren't terrorists – and been promoted to the rank of general. Isn't life funny? But not funny ha-ha.