Saint Paddy’s Day* is when just about every white person in America decides to get stinking drunk and pretend they’re Irish. Those of us with actual Irish blood running through our veins tend to abhor such practices, but we’ll let you slide with your little cultural appropriation. While you’re drinking and reading this, I’ll make a modest proposal to you. The MacManus Brothers of the “Boondock Saints” films should be dubbed the patron saints of professional conflict resolvers.
Connor and Murphy MacManus (played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) reach an “epiphany” when seeing just how much evil exists in the world, and dedicate their lives to eradicating evil wherever they find it so that the innocent may flourish. Their methods are a touch morally grey, but that’s life for you. I’m not one to go around putting bullets in the back of Mafioso craniums, but I can admire two dudes who live their lives by the code “protect the innocent.” They even have a family prayer they recite before each major execution, and I can definitely get behind men of faith practicing what they preach.
“And shepherds we shall be.
For Thee, my Lord, for Thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand.
That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee.
And Teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”
The MacManus brothers definitely have commitment to “truth” and “justice.” One has a tattoo of the word “Veritas,” which is Latin for Truth. The other has a tattoo of the word “Aequitas,” which in the same language is either “Justice” or “Equality,” depending on the context. Who can’t get behind “truth,” “justice,” and “equality?” No one I know!
In the first film, the MacManus brothers even have an “inside guy” who knows how to help. He’s the ultimate paralegal that “knows stuff.”
Connor: We haven’t really got a system of deciding who, Roc. It’s, uh…
Rocco: Me! *Me*! I’m the guy! I know everyone! Their habits, who they hang out with, who they talk to! I’ve got phone numbers, addresses! I know who they’re fucking! I know where they live! We could kill *everyone.*
Murphy: So what do you think?
Connor: I’m strangely comfortable with it.
Less you think these “vigilantes” don’t understand the difference between a guy who did something stupid and needed to catch a break versus actual evil, the MacManus Brothers make their intentions very clear in the first film.
“There are varying degrees of evil. We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption, into our domain. For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three. And on that day, you will reap it. And we will send you to whatever God you wish.”
Even FBI Agent Paul Smecker (played by Willem Dafoe), understands they’re doing something that amounts to a just cause, even if he doesn’t like it.
The Priest: Would they ever harm an innocent person for any reason?
[of Rocco, who’s holding him at gunpoint]
Paul Smecker: No, they would never do that. Well, the two Irish guys wouldn’t, the Italian guy, he might, he’s kind of an idiot.
They also know that a certain “gallows humor” is necessary for the job they do, and make no bones about it, no matter who gets “triggered” or “microagressed,” long before those phrases entered the modern lexicon.
Connor: [during job training for an avid feminist] The rule of thumb here is…
Rosengurtie: Wait, rule of thumb? In the early 1900s it was legal for men to beat their wives, as long as they used a stick no wider than their thumb.
Connor: Can’t do much damage with that then, can we? Perhaps it should have been a rule of wrist?
So there you have it. They protect the innocent, harbor no love for evil, abide by an ethical code, and manage to maintain a sense of humor about a profession where moral ambiguity is king. My modest proposal is that we name the MacManus brothers the Patron Saints of Conflict Resolution Professionals.
Does anyone have the Vatican’s number on speed dial?
*The name for those of you who would adopt our holiday is “Saint Paddy’s Day,” not “Saint Patty’s Day.” The “Paddy” refers to the Irish derivative “Padraig,” and refers to an actual Saint. Just as I’m admonished at Fault Lines to get the law right, if you’re going to celebrate our holiday, you need to at least slur the name right after your tenth green beer.