Law Schools, Lunacy, Politics

The Crazy Carl Chronicles: Was Paladino a Law School Paladin?

Carl Paladino’s had a bad week. A no duh. It began with a bizarrely homophobic speech to Orthodox Jewish leaders last Sunday. It continued with a sad attempt to apologize for those remarks. And Carl’s crazy exploits threaten to become The Neverending Story (sans flying dog-thing with floppy ears), as yesterday the twitterverse, blogosphere and other made-up words were filled with chatter about pornographic emails, Planned Parenthood, and a Paladino campaign adviser who marched shirtless in a gay pride parade. Really, all those things happened. A full week for anyone.

So why you gotta bring up old sh*t, Juggalo?

Because it looks like we totally missed a story that came out before this week’s avalanche of goofiness. As it turns out, Carl Paladino was a law school student once. And the Syracuse Post-Standard interviewed him about his law school career last week, only to find out embellishment might come as naturally to him as rattling off homophobic rants…

Now, I know what you guys are thinking. You’re thinking he probably just fibbed about what journal he was on. Maybe he claimed Law Review when he was really Articles Editor for the Environmental Native American Regulatory Review of Law and Literature. Guys in my law school did that all the time, it was no big deal.

But he didn’t just fudge his extracurricular activities. No, he went full retard and invented a story of incredibly banal heroism. A story that is corroborated neither by fellow classmates nor contemporaneous newspaper accounts.

In Paladino’s account, he was nerding it up in 1970, palling around with policemen as part of a law student ride-along program, when all hell broke loose on Syracuse’s campus. The hippies had stormed the administration building and taken the chancellor hostage. Paladino then sprung into action:

“When the riots came, I was the one who negotiated for [Syracuse Police] Chief [Tom] Sardino to take the place of the chancellor, who the students had locked down in the administration building ..,” he said.

“Sardino had the idea that he would come up and they would let the chancellor leave and take him as their hostage, if you wanted to call it. … So when Sardino came up with this idea I negotiated with these guys, who agreed to let the chancellor go and take Sardino in his place …

Super cool story, bro. Except…well, those who were there say it didn’t happen. And they don’t mince words:

David Bennett, an SU history professor who visited the administration building during the protest, scoffed at Paladino’s account.

“That’s completely wrong,” he said. “He’s either living in Cloud Cuckooland or, shall we say, his historical memory is clouded by whatever it is.”

Well, you can’t trust that pinko history professor to tell the truth. Right?

According to a Post-Standard report from May 8, 1970, [Syracuse Chancellor John] Corbally wasn’t in the building when the students entered and demanded to see him. He arrived about 15 minutes later and entered the building with Sardino. The two emerged two hours later. Corbally left and set up a temporary office elsewhere. Sardino went back into the building and spent the night talking with the protesters. His presence in the building was completely voluntary, said John A. Beach, an attorney for the university at the time who was working closely with Sardino. The protest ended peacefully the next day.

Crap. Never mind.

So what we’ve got here is a homophobic and perverted hypocrite who maybe (probably, almost definitely) lied about his law school career. AWESOME DUDE!!! And the thing is, this exaggeration, like many lies, doesn’t seem necessary at all. Without it, Paladino’s tale of paying his way through Syracuse Law comes off as impressive enough. A downright Russertian tale of triumph from the mean streets of Buffalo.

But you can’t believe everything you read (or I write). Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo told the New York Post that this whole thing is a big misunderstanding:

“His involvement was on the margins,” Caputo said. “The way Carl remembers it, the chancellor was in a difficult situation that needed to be resolved, whether it was for five minutes, five hours, five days, five weeks.”

The margins. That’s a nice coda for this story. From the margins to the margins. The Carl Paladino Story.

Carl Paladino’s tale of helping defuse 1970 Syracuse University student strike doesn’t ring true with some [Syracuse Post-Standard]
Carl’s chancellor-rescue claims called false [New York Post]

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