Introducing “The Hollinger Awards”…and the First Recipient, Susan Cole

The Original Hollinger

Every year, the Darwin Awards amuse us, in a blackly humorous way, with tales of people who improve the gene pool by getting themselves killed through acts of stunning stupidity, often seasoned by exquisite irony. To take a random example from 2011, Phil Contos was participating in a helmet-less high-speed motorcycle ride when he crashed and suffered fatal brain injuries. His brother was quoted as saying that Phil would do it again, too—and I’m sure he would.

A story out of Denver made me realize that faulty or entirely absent ethics alarms work in a similar way to ensure that the most shamelessly unethical among us get their just desserts. Such individuals are so lacking in comprehension of what is wrong with their conduct that they can’t resist publicizing it, thereby revealing themselves as blights on their communities and workplaces, and attracting appropriate treatment in response. Searching for an appropriate name for the ethics version of the Darwin Awards, I was irresistably drawn to Jeremy Hollinger, the Mobile, Alabama special ed teacher who last year mocked his challenged fourth graders on Facebook, and, for good measure, posted a photo of himself wearing one of his student’s protective helmets and making a moronic face. (Or, come to think of it, maybe that’s Jeremy’s normal face.) Thus I am dubbing the new distinction The Hollinger, and give the very first one to Susan Cole.

Judge Anne Mansfield was listening to the “Dave Logan Show” on 850 KOA radio in Denver last October as the madcap host took calls on the topic of avoiding jury duty. Avoiding jury duty is unethical, a breach of the duty of citizenship, so the show itself could have been a trap for unwary Hollingers. Or it just could have been an offensive celebration of irresponsible and dishonest behavior by a local jerk behind a microphone. Whichever was the case, Judge Mansfield heard a caller relate an episode that sounded oddly familiar, so she asked prosecutors to download a recording of the show from the KOA website.

“Char from Denver” proudly told Dave how she deliberately responded to her jury summons by coming to court wearing mismatched shoes, reindeer socks, a shirt with the caption “Ask me about my best seller,” her hair in curlers and excessive make-up to appear deranged.  Judge Mansfield, not surprisingly, remembered her. She also remembered that when called for jury selection in a case that day, Cole told the judge, under oath, a sad tale about suffering post-traumatic stress  from military service, being subjected to domestic violence, and ending up homeless.

Cole was excused from jury duty. Her perjured performance was so effective that she just couldn’t resist telling everyone about it, because the Hollingers of the world presume that everyone thinks self-serving unethical conduct is as acceptable and cool as they do.

It took a while, but prosecutors confirmed that Cole was the caller, and that Cole was the liar. An arrest warrant has been issued, and Susan Cole is being charged with first degree perjury and attempting to influence a public servant.

Just tell the next judge that you’re a Hollinger Award recipient, Susan. Maybe she’ll be sympathetic.

6 thoughts on “Introducing “The Hollinger Awards”…and the First Recipient, Susan Cole

  1. I read about Susan Cole just this morning, Jack. Some people seem to think that life is one big TV game show! I’d like to see the composition of the jury that tries her. Hopefully, it’ll be all former contestants from “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”.

  2. I recall a former co-worker bragging for at least an hour about the scam she and her fellows regularly pulled on the airlines – she would book tickets on very heavily traveled domestic air routes, volunteer for stand-by seating, and then would readily accept any offer from the airline to trade in the plane ticket for future free flights, hotel rooms, or hard cash. She had apparently racked up so many of these that she hadn’t paid for a flight or a vacation in years. Technically neither illegal or against the rules, but hardly an ethical beacon.

    • It’s called “getting over”. It didn’t start with “Superfly” and it certainly hasn’t ended with it. Fraud, extortion and corruption are endemic in circles where the entitlement mentality has taken hold.

  3. There ought to be a special forfeiture of one’s citizenship for deliberately scamming your way out of jury duty and having the colossal nerve to brag about it. It made me think of the fate of Philip Nolan in Edward Everett Hale’s “The Man Without a Country,” who discovers the value of his citizenship only when he loses it.

    • It does show remarkable contempt for one of the most direct participatory activities afforded a citizen. People who do this really do take their rights and freedoms for granted,,,the jury system is a cornerstone of democracy. We don’t make people serve in the military (though we should)…a brief commitment to helping the justice system work is hardly too much to require.

      • My county has permanently excused me from being summoned for duty. I am extremely hard-of-hearing (no, not deaf), and they figured no attorney, defense or prosecution, would allow me to stay on a jury anyway.

        I feel as deprived as if they’d taken away my right to vote. But I have to accept the things I cannot change.

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