In Episode #39 I make the point that what we’ve learned from Charlottesville is that people are sometimes willing to allow their principles to be manipulated and shifted as long as they like the person violating the principle. The media is culpable in the violence of Charlottesville as is the explicit and vulgar racism of Charlottesville’s Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy. 

One of the stories I share in FR#39 is how I once received a lot of grief over a few blog posts related to a guy named Trey Pennington.

Since it takes up a major portion of the podcast, I thought it would help, for the sake of clarity, if I posted the relevant material here. This is not in hopes of digging up bones or gouging old wounds, but I do hope it serves as an example of how the media (and people in general) will bend their beliefs if it means it advances a cause, helps a friend, or helps push their own agenda.

ORIGINAL POST FROM 9.06.2011

Dave Matthews has a song called Big Eyed Fish that has the line, “…under the wight of life, things seem brighter on the other side.”

I guess that could be true, but I’ve always been a fan of “It’s better than the alternative” being someone’s response when asked how life is going.

Suicide is a tricky subject because it is so subjective. Different people find different reason to make the conscious decision to end their life, but it has been my experience that it is usually a selfish decision aimed at harming a specific target that is never the same target that meets the bullet.

Bitterness is like taking a poison and hoping its effects render your enemy extinct. And that’s true with suicide as well.

I don’t believe in bad-mouthing the dead because I know they have now faced their final judgement before God, but in the same vein I do not believe in celebrating someone simply because of their public facade, and I am outraged at the disingenuous accolades being showered on a man in Greenville, SC.

Trey Pennington showed up at his wife’s church this weekend with a loaded gun, and by all accounts intent on inflicting damage to the innocent. Fortunately, authorities intervened and the only life lost that day was the life of the bad guy.

WYFF has this story.

GREENVILLE, S.C.– The ripple effect of social media leader Trey Pennington’s death has touched friends and family in the Upstate, as well as the online community here and around the world. 

Pennington, 46, died Sunday morning under a big oak tree near the parking lot of Second Presbyterian Church on River Street in Greenville. Police said that officers went to the church after a report of a man with a gun. 

The officers said they asked Pennington several times to put down the gun, but he turned the weapon on himself and fired once. 

Richard Phillips, senior minister at Second Presbyterian, said that Pennington shot himself in the stomach. Phillips was not present when the shot was fired, but some parishioners witnessed the shooting. 

Phillips said, “Our friend Trey died with Christians who knew and loved him, literally reaching out to him — literally pleading with him to turn to the Lord and to choose another path. While it’s shocking and terrifying in its own way, I can see how it came together for him. But ultimately we don’t know.” 

He said that Pennington was not supposed to be at the church. 

“There was a restraining order with respect to his family, which is why he couldn’t be here,” Phillips said. 

Friends said that Pennington was going through a difficult divorce. A memorial service for Trey Pennington is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville. Burial will be Thursday in Pensacola, Fla. 

A candlelight memorial is planned for 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Liberty Bridge/Falls Park in Greenville. Trey often wrote about how much he loved that bridge. 

The Out of the Darkness Walk, a walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will be held Oct. 9 at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg. A team called “Trey’s Light” will participate in that walk.

My heart breaks for his six children and his wife who is now left alone to care for them, and my cynicism takes strong note that they have been completely ignored in the three memorials/donation causes listed.

Trey Pennington did not kill himself because his life was at a low point and he was hoping to find a final solution. Trey consciously calculated a way to inflict the most damage possible. He could have easily driven himself to Caeser’s Head or Pretty Place and in less than five steps thrown himself quietly into eternity. But that didn’t work for Trey because he didn’t care about his problems as much as he cared about revenge and attention. He wanted his wife to witness the carnage, and in so doing he may have subjected his own children to the most horrific of scenarios. Who knows if one of his kids, fighting to get close enough to talk sense to him, witnessed Trey’s final attempt at the fame he so desperately craved?

And knowing that his wife was filing for divorce (he was known to have cheated on her) we can fairly assume that Trey killed himself to avoid having to pay to support his six kids.

Trey had a court-ordered restraining order against him going to that church because of a prior incident. So in stepping foot on their property, Trey became a criminal. In using a gun during the commission of a crime, Trey became a felon. In having his six children worried for their lives inside of their own church while their father wielded a gun outside looking to inflict the most damage possible Trey became a monster.

Trey Pennington made a conscious and calculated decision to end his life while using his final moments to terrorize his own children, and you want me to carry a candle for him? No thanks.

FOLLOW UP POST FROM 09.07.2011

I am adding more thoughts on this Trey Pennington fiasco because I refuse to allow a news outlet like WYFF to be so willingly blind to the facts in this case.

I would not be outraged if Trey had decided to die in peace, but as we know, Trey decided to inflict an agonizing torment on his own children while on his way out. That’s a selfish and evil move by a vile personality with nothing left to contribute to the world.

Regardless of what WYFF may tell you, Trey Pennington is not a victim.

I am outraged and appalled that the community would dare show deference for this guy in any way, while completely ignoring the needs of the six children he left behind. I’m angered more when I consider that the abandonment of his children is exactly what Trey wanted.

He was in no way great. He was, however, the culprit of terror and responsible for the lifetime of anguish and grief his children will now suffer.

My full take on this is posted here, but I want to add a few thoughts since WYFF made this note on their article:

Because of the public nature of Trey Pennington’s career as a leader in the social media community, WYFF4.com is making an exception to its general policy in order to cover Pennington’s untimely death.

So because Trey was cool on Facebook we give him only positive attention when he died during the commission of a felony? Unstinkingbelievable.

He may have been good with Twitter, but he cheated on his wife and abandoned his children. Far from “great” by any standard, I would think.

Why would WYFF choose to only acknowledge positive aspects of an obviously complex and tormented man?

Why not interview the husbands of the women he was promiscuous with?

Why not give us the details of why there was a restraining order?

According to South Carolina law:

A restraining order or protective order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another.

So Trey, according to the law, was harming his wife to such a degree that they told him to stay away.

WYFF:

“…some parishioners witnessed the shooting”

You know his kids were in that group, right? He certainly knew, and he chose to act the way he did.

WYFF has an obligation to provide facts and clarity to the community. In this instance it has failed to do so.

To gloss over the facts and make a stated exception to policy in order to call him a “great” man is to belittle the meaning of greatness and at the same time serves only to demean your own reputation as a news agency.

A great man would toughen up through the hard times and do what he could to provide for his family.

A great man stays faithful to his wife.

A great man does not seek the easy way out.

A great man sets the standard for his children.

A great man is the same outside and in.

A great man admits fault and tries to be better.

A great man does not need friends to speak on his behalf as to why he became a monster.

It’s an interesting divide between what once was great and what is now considered greatness.

Every article and blurb I have read has noted Trey’s amount of Twitter followers as a reference to his greatness.

Trey had 111,517 followers. This, apparently, makes him a great person.

Kanye West has 4,256,515.

Barack Obama has 9,961,811.

Hugo Chavez has 2,036,870.

Joy Behar has 517,143.

Planned Parenthood has 28,893.

Even the racist radical Margaret Sanger who has been dead for years has mustered 32 followers.

Get the point?

Trey may have seemed cool and gracious to some, but what he really was inside is what we saw play out on Sunday. He was the lunatic who brought a gun to a church and attempted to wreak havoc on the innocent, including his own children. Is a great man capable of such? I think not.