It's hard to hate on Hyman Strachman. He's a 92-year-old World War II veteran who was featured in The New York Times over the weekend because he's sent some 4,000 boxes full of DVDs to members of our nation's military serving overseas. Sounds like quite a mensch? Well, that and one of the world's biggest bootleggers.
Shocked you, didn't I? Now you know why he ended up in the Grey Lady. But what really shocked me is the response Strachman's DVD piracy is getting from our troops.
They adore him! Literally, he's been dubbed "a hero to soldiers."
Even though they know exactly what he's been doing in his home in New York. Kind of ... odd, don't you think? Considering our military is charged with protecting the American way of life, and here Strachman is breaking American law. Shouldn't they be angry with him? They are supposed to defend our Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. And he's a domestic threat of sorts ... albeit in a pretty tame way.
The guys who spoke out on his behalf make a good case for him. The number one request from servicemembers serving far from home is movies. It's the kind of thing that keeps them entertained when they're off duty, the kind of thing that gives them an escape from the hard work they do every day, the kind of thing that connects them to home. And the only thing they get from movie studios is old-fashioned reel-to-reel films and projectors. It's like a bad flashback to the 1970s.
I respect the heck out of what they do, and I have donated many times over to charities that send boxes to our troops. I think they deserve something better than what they get right now.
I just don't think bootlegged movies are "better." I think Strachman means well, but what he's doing is really a slap in the face for our military. They fight for us so some guy can sit in his house stealing movies and costing the government thousands in taxes that are levied on the movie industry, costing the movie industry thousands that would be fed back into the economy via their employees' paychecks?
I don't hate Hyman Strachman. But I certainly don't think he's a hero.
Is this no big deal because it's a bad thing for a good cause or something so illegal you can't look past it?
Image via bizmac/Flickr