The manhunt for fugitive Shawn Christy is approaching the 80-day mark and a few trends seem to be emerging.
First, and most obvious, is that the McAdoo man keeps getting away even though he’s been spotted multiple times.
Second is that Christy — a man accused of threatening to do harm to President Trump, a district attorney and police — has gained a fan base.
Sad, but true.
Some people have actually started to root for this guy, a 26-year-old whose only noteworthy accomplishment to this point was getting put in prison for allegedly harassing Sarah Palin’s lawyers after she got a restraining order against him.
Look at these Facebook comments we recently saw about Shawn:
• “#teamshawnchristy #respect #american hero”
• “This guy needs to be hired by the police so he can teach them how evasion works. This is such a joke.”
• On the Times Leader’s Facebook page, someone referring to Christy noted that not all heroes wear capes.
Also over the last week, as Christy was spotted for a second time at an ice cream shop in Schuylkill County not far from his parents’ home, a documentary of sorts popped up on the Hazleton News One Facebook page. It’s called “Shawn Christy Political Prisoner” and features an extensive interview with his parents. (Father Craig Christy does most of the talking.)
He recalls how Shawn “was very advanced for his age,” performing at a 10th-grade academic level while in third grade.
“Built his first debris hut when he was about 10,” his dad boasted of Shawn’s survivalist skills. His parents also said he has a photographic memory.
The interview delves deep into an alleged conspiracy the Christys believe has ensnared their son, which they say began when he contacted Palin’s office in 2008 and then started receiving strange text messages.
We won’t get into details because the accusations seem far-fetched.
But the point is Shawn and his family believe the government is out to get him to prevent him from blowing the lid off a corrupt system.
Seems very random the government would single out this one particular person, but we’ll let you decide on that.
What troubles us is what the Christy manhunt is bringing to the surface.
It’s not just a disdain for police, which a small percentage harbor.
It’s something much deeper.
In an age when most of us have a screen in front of our faces all day, we expect near constant entertainment whether that be in the form of texts, tweets, Facebook, streaming videos or taking selfies.
And that’s to mention nothing of more traditional mediums such as music, TV and movies.
It’s a natural leap for many to lump news into this category — just more entertainment for an entertainment-driven society.
That’s why we believe folks — and we hope it’s a minority — are rooting for Christy. They are entertained by this big game of hide-and-go-seek and they don’t want it to end.
There is science behind this, too.
A Mel magazine article from a few years ago discussed a study that found how people who consume media strictly for pleasure don’t much mind someone’s misdeeds or lack of morals. These people are in it strictly for fun — detached from the reality of the situation — so rooting for the antihero is no big deal.
Could it be the never-ending flow of fun stuff bombarding us via our smart devices is creating more hedonists who place the value of entertainment ahead of their sense of morality?
It’s something to think about.
As for Christy, his show will run its course.
He has to get a little lucky every day to keep this up.
U.S. Marshals and police have to get lucky only once.
— Times Leader