Monday, December 1, 2008

Simon Romero Tells Legionnaire: You Look A Lot Like This Mass Murderer I Know.

In an otherwise benign piece this morning about the French Foreign Legion, reporter Simon Romero offers this bit of descriptive amplification that seems, oh, a bit out of place, maybe even just a little unnecessarily hostile:

At this locale on a recent Friday evening, the legion seemed to have kept its rough edges. Instead of the wine preferred by their officers, legionnaires downed whiskey mixed with an energy drink called Long Horn. A band belted out forrĂ³, music from northeastern Brazil. Couples swarmed the dance floor.

“This is where we come to forget why we’re stationed here,” said Andrey Korivitsky, 28, a legionnaire from Belarus who resembles Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

Now, there's no photo of Korivitsky with the story, so we have no way of independently verifying whether he does, in fact, resemble the convicted killer of 168 innocent victims in a government office building in April of 1995. Presumably Romero refers to what McVeigh used to look like, given that he was executed in 2001 for his heinous crimes.

Perhaps Romero considered it a compliment to compare the legionnaire to McVeigh. After all, nothwithstanding the fact that McVeigh engineered the second most violent terrorist attack in American history (9/11 took the title away), the dude was damn nice looking. Square jaw, smooth skin, nice hair, way easier on the eyes than, say, John Wayne Gacy or Osama Bin Laden.

But it seems worth reminding Romero that most law-abiding folks, when described in the Times, would probably prefer that they not have their appearance compared to a killer of innocent women and children.

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