Nancy Kerrigan and Samuel Sheinbein
Twenty years ago, Nancy Kerrigan was clobbered in the knee by Shane Stant. After the attack, she didn’t know if she would get to go to the Olympics, skate again, even walk ever again, and the world held its breath as the details emerged tying the attack to a rival skater’s husband. Every few years, the story is trotted out again: Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding. And this year was no different. Before the closing ceremony for the Olympics, they aired old footage coupled with new interviews of the skaters who both expressed disbelief that people were still talking about this story even though it took place in 1994. They had both moved on with their lives; why couldn’t the general public?
We watched some of the documentary while we waited for the closing ceremony to begin, even though I rolled my eyes when it came on.
“Again? We need to hear about Nancy Kerrigan again?” I asked.
“Who is Nancy Kerrigan?” the ChickieNob questioned.
“Every generation needs a retelling of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tanya Harding story,” Josh intoned. “Every generation gets the retelling it deserves.”
“Exactly, who is Nancy Kerrigan,” I pointed out. “She’s a skater. Just like any other past Olympic skater that we can’t really remember because we’re not ensconced in the skating world. This coverage belongs back in 1994.”
I’m done. Nancy Kerrigan. Tanya Harding. I don’t need the 24-year recap at the next games.
Image: Maria Cabello via Flickr
Seventeen years ago, Samuel Sheinbein and Aaron Needle killed and dismembered Alfredo Enrique Tello, Jr. It was a gruesome crime. The killers were students a few years behind me at one of the local Jewish Day schools. Aaron Needle killed himself in jail. Samuel Sheinbein fled to Israel, utilizing the Right to Return law. And since Israel had a policy of not returning criminals to places that had the death penalty, they kept and tried Sheinbein, sentencing him to 24 years in an Israeli prison.
It was a very tense time here both because everyone was local, the families were known, and it brought up the Right of Return. The law was meant to make immigration easier, not to protect criminals. But it was being exploited by a murderer, and the community was up in arms. Scratch that: the country was up in arms. It was a case that gutted us on so many levels: affluence vs. poverty, troubled teens not being reached, Right of Return, murder.
This weekend, my mother and I were looking up something else online when I saw the front page of Yahoo announcing Sheinbein’s death. He had been involved in a shootout in the jail after he got hold of a gun. He fired on the prison guards, and he was killed by a SWAT team. It felt surreal to see his name pop up again in the news, to be reminded of all the discussion that surrounded the first crime.
I spent the night reading articles online about the shoot out, going back to reread old newspaper clippings online from his first crime.
That need to return to a story is so personal. I don’t even mean on a crime level. I’m talking about our need to rehash personal slights, old fights. To keep bringing up incidents years after the fact; to remind the other person that we haven’t forgotten. And then there are the stories that penetrate our collective consciousness; the Tanya Hardings and the Samuel Sheinbeins. There are people who never want to think about either one again. There are people who want to have the story retold.
And then there is the conflict that arises from those who need to look backwards from those who want to move on. It’s usually the person who has done the harm that wants to move on. Who doesn’t want to be reminded of how they messed up. But sometimes, when we talk about these stories, we have a gut reaction to the retelling. We have enough of Tanya Harding. We want to hear more about Samuel Sheinbein. Or vice versa.
Both stories continue and both stories are done.
And the newspaper cycle goes round and round.