Tyrants Who Punched Down On WTF Dumb Things
When we think of leaders misusing their powers, we tend to imagine the kinds of scandals that end with assassination plots or corpses in trunks. But as the old saying goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." So, in addition to the big stuff, these petty tyrants absolutely cannot resist wielding their vast authority to disproportionately address the slightest of slights and get away with the kind of corrupt behavior you'd expect more from a shoplifting teen than a regional strongman. For example ...
Pablo Escobar Would Cheat At Monopoly
We all know Pablo Escobar Gaviria was not a nice guy. He became one of the richest men in the world by building a cocaine empire, murdering anyone who stood in his way, and terrorizing the people of Colombia with his cartel (and with his hippos). And as if that wasn't bad enough, the guy cheated at Monopoly.
Despite making $420 million a week, Escobar's insatiable greed for money apparently included Monopoly bucks. In the 2010 HBO documentary Sins of My Father, Pablo's son Juan Sebastian Marroquin Santos, who legally changed his name to avoid the shame of sharing one with a board game cheat, recounted how the cartel mob boss would constantly swindle his own family at Monopoly during family game nights just to beat his elementary school-aged children.
But as a career criminal Escobar had a certain reputation to uphold. Not content with sneaking out a few extra bills like a normal cheat, the King of Cocaine would plan his Monopoly heists hours in advance, hiding brightly colored Monopoly bills all over the house and even enlist some of his cronies to Ocean's Eleven money out of the game box while their sore loser of a crime boss was distracting his marks -- i.e. his loving family. "We would start the game and hand out the money according to the rules of the game, everything was going fine until he would lose and lose and lose, but would never run out of cash," Juan would later recall of his notorious father, a frustration he shared with the Colombian police and the CIA.
Vladimir Putin Stole A Super Bowl Ring Just Because He Can
Remember that scene from The Simpsons where Mr. Burns lets Fidel Castro hold his trillion-dollar bill and the dictator just keeps it, knowing there's nothing the dumb American can do about it? In another moment of extreme Simpsons prescience, the same thing happened in real life. (Except you have to replace the Communist dictator with a post-Communist dictator and a novelty dollar bill with tens of thousands of dollars in shinies.)
When New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft met with Putin in 2005, he was proudly wearing the Super Bowl ring his team had won that year. Trying to show off, he handed the heavy golden ring to the Russian head of state. Putin put it on, said: "I can kill someone with this ring," put the ring in his pocket and simply walked away -- a wall of bodyguards blocking the crestfallen Kraft.
Like any robbed tourist, Kraft went to complain to his government, but the White House wasn't not interested in starting World War III over a gaudy ring. So they told Kraft that he had been mistaken and that he had obviously given that ring as a "gift." Days later, Kraft made the official statement: "I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin," waiting eight full years before deciding to snitch on the ex-KGB officer, who still denies that the ring, which is on proud display in the Kremlin, is in his possession.
But Putin's fit of magpie mugging didn't stop there. Only a few months later, the Russian president was visiting the Guggenheim Museum in New York when, once again, some dumb American tried to show off his soon-to-be-ex-possessions. One of his Guggenheim hosts presented Putin with a crystal Kalashnikov filled with vodka. Figuring this excessively Russian artifact belonged back in the Motherland, Putin simply motioned for one of his guards to take the piece of art and walked out of the room, rendering the hosts too speechless to protest.
Apparently, for Putin, becoming a dictator wasn't so he could stop being a common thug, just to make it a whole lot easier.
The City of Dallas Has Arrested A Man Over 80 Times For Pointing Out Where JFK Was Shot
Robert J. Groden is a JFK assassination conspiracy theorist and bestselling author (of JFK conspiracy theories). But he's not your typical tin-foiled hat conspiracist. Groden consulted on the official government investigation of the JFK assassination, was the first to show the world the infamous Zapruder tape, and even dared to testify in front of the Rockefeller Commission about alleged CIA involvement in the assassination. But that's not what keeps getting Groden into trouble with the law. It's because of his banner.
While most cities will take any claim to fame and turn it into a tourist trap, Dallas wants people to forget the most famous thing that ever happened there: the day John F. Kennedy got his brains blown out. Its council intentionally has stamped out all markers to the infamous assassination throughout the city. All but one. Almost every day, Robert Groden sets up shop right atop the infamous Dealey Plaza grassy knoll to talk about the JFK assassination, sells literature about the JFK assassination, and erects a banner that says "Grassy Knoll," the only sign in the entire plaza that lets people know its historic significance. And that made him enemy #1 to city officials.
In response to his wanton tourist guidery, the city of Dallas has launched an illegal war against Groden, bringing him up on charges 82 times in a mere seven years. They've even had the sickly septuagenarian thrown in jail overnight. But every single time they threatened to fine or arrest him because of some trumped-up charge like selling books without a license or erecting an illegal sign, the city gets knocked down by a judge declaring their petty prosecutions wholly unconstitutional. As a result, the city of Dallas has given the one guy they don't want in the spotlight not just a bunch of free publicity, but also $25,000 in settlements for harassment.
North Carolina Republicans Couldn't Stop Angels In America, So They Defunded Their Entire Arts Program
There are so many reasons why government funding can get slashed in America. There could be a budgetary crisis, a change of parties and values or all the politicians could just decide they'd rather spend the money on tanks for all the sheriff's deputies. But in '90s Charlotte, kids lost their after-school programs because a few councilmen couldn't deal with the fact that gay people exist.
In 1996, Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner came to the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte with his incredibly poignant, incredibly, incredibly long play about the ongoing AIDS crisis, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. But not if Charlotte's elected Republicans had anything to say about it, as they could not abide tax dollars being spent on art that featured gay people, AIDS, and the titillating nudity of an AIDS-ravaged body being inspected for lesions. So these moral, freedom-loving men and women tried to censor the play, have it canceled and even tried to get the actors arrested for indecent exposure.
But mere hours before opening night, a judge remembered there was such a thing as the First Amendment, told Charlotte's meddling politicians to back off and the show went on. Chastised, the Charlotte conservatives had learned their lessons: Instead of focussing on destroying one play, they should just play it safe and destroy all of the arts. Five ultra-Christian Mecklen County Commissioners who were known as the Gang of Five (even their rogues' gallery name is milquetoast) immediately voted to defund their county's entire $2.5 million annual contributions to NC's Arts & Science Council, hurting not just the state's theater scene, but also its symphonies, museums, and even school art projects.
The people of North Carolina did not agree. By 1998, four of the Gang of Five were kicked out, as were many other Charlotte conservatives who had tried to rob NC of its rich cultural scene. By 1999, the funding was restored and the state went back to its normal, era-appropriate level of homophobia.
A Journalist Mocked The Madison Square Garden Tycoon, He Blackballed Her Entire Broadcasting Corporation
Maggie Gray is a sports journalist and radio personality who committed a crime. A crime so terrible it caused a war between two Fortune 500 corporations, jeopardized the careers of thousands and made her an outcast in her field. What was this crime? She told an old billionaire that his blues band sucks.
James Dolan is the CEO of the Madison Square Garden Group, a powerful concern that owns its namesake, the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and a host of other sports teams and massive entertainment venues. James Dolan is also the lyricist and lead vocalist of JD & The Straight Shots, a shitty country blues band his employees are forced to attend and who have collaborated with a host of famous bands because James Dolan owns Madison Square Garden. As if that isn't dumb enough, Dolan is also infamous for writing a song (don't click that) about his good pal and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. Here are some of the lyrics. We're sorry.
I should've known
I should've thrown
Myself across his tracks
Stopped him from these vile attacks
I should've known
We believed and didn't see
Through the lies he told us all
They led him to his endless fall
I should've known
And the reason why he's that infamous for it is that it led to a particularly punchy tirade by Maggie Gray. The sports host on WFAN called Dolan a "vile piece of trash" and a "hypocrite" for trying to piggyback on the Me Too movement while his company has been labeled a hostile work environment and he himself protected another accused sexual abuser buddy after allegations came out. In retaliation, "King James" Dolan cut all business ties with not just Maggie Gray, but her radio channel, the company that owns the radio channel, and the company that owns that company, Entercom, blackballing the national broadcaster from all of New York's major sporting and entertainment.
Even after Gray and Entercom apologized, King James kept the drawbridges up, not just cutting ties with the hundreds of journalists and presenters of the corporation but also forbidding all of the athletes, coaches, or announcers that he owns to ever appear on any WFAN show ever again. And this is far from the only time Dolan acted like a petty tyrant when it came to criticism. He has had several people forcibly thrown out of his venues and given lifetime bans for daring to not like him. This includes a Knicks fan who simply shouted "Sell the team, Jim," but also NBA and Knicks legend Charles Oakley, a vocal critic of Dolan's treatment of his old team, whom Dolan had kicked out of a Knicks game, banned from all future Knicks games and arrested because the CEO claimed the retired legend had antagonized him during a game.
Top Image: Kremlin.ru