In what promises to be a court proceeding that captures the public consciousness in a way not seen since O.J. Simpson—or, at least, since that episode of Good Morning Miss Bliss where Screech faces a mock courtroom for making too many practical jokes—Dustin Diamond will have to stand trial for allegedly stabbing a man. The actor, known for appearing on Saved By The Bell and ensuing years of capitalizing on Saved By The Bell, is currently out on bail and has been granted permission to leave Wisconsin for “employment purposes,” a statement that has remained vague for Diamond since approximately the year 2000.
As teams of cable news analysts and lawyers someday to be portrayed by other faded actors will soon break down for a rapt American audience, Diamond was arrested after a Christmas Day incident in a bar near his home of Port Washington, Wisconsin. There, within walls that will years hence bear a plaque recounting the sordid tale, Diamond became embroiled in what is surely one of the near-hourly confrontations that have dogged him his whole life, simply for starring as an annoying nerd on a terrible yet inescapable television show, then being a jackass about it at every given opportunity. Only this one ended up in the news because Diamond pulled a knife.
What Diamond’s intentions were with that knife will soon be the subject of debate for the court and, assuredly, the world. When talking to police, Diamond himself said that he “accidentally stabbed” a man who’d become involved in a “tussle” involving his fiancée, which began after he refused to shake the hand of a woman who’d been bumping into her. In what seems like an incredible escalation of those events, Diamond claimed that two men then grabbed his fiancée by the hair and he saw that she was bleeding, prompting him to grab the “stiletto folding knife with a 3.75-inch blade” that he carries around as part of the heavy load of being Screech. However, Diamond says this accidental stabbing only occurred because another patron grabbed and pushed him, leading to the non-life-threatening wound that the “substantially bleeding” victim says he didn’t even notice at first.
However, in what is destined to be the proverbial “bloody glove” of the case, Diamond’s defense attorney, Thomas Alberti, now says “there is no evidence Dustin Diamond touched anyone with his knife” that he was holding, and therefore no one can prove that it created the stabbing wound in question. In the inevitable miniseries, For Whom The Bell Tolls: The People Vs. Dustin Diamond, Alberti will be played by Ike Barinholtz.
“Dustin didn’t reach out or slash out or throw his arms around and try to wound someone,” Alberti tells People. “He merely flashed the pocket knife to try to stop the harm that was befalling his wife,” Alberti said, a preview of an argument that will be reconstructed again and again over the decades, by analysts concocting theories as to how this stabbing could have occurred if Dustin Diamond was only holding the knife. Did a second stabber freeze time just long enough to sneak in and frame him, before a wink and an escape into the cold Wisconsin night? Isn’t it suspicious that no one has heard from Diamond’s friend, Kevin the Robot, since 1992—and could this have been his revenge for being programmed to love, only to be abandoned? Where’s Tori?
These and many more questions funny solely to people who watched too much Saved By The Bell will surely weigh heavily in the minds of judges, jurors, and people, as Diamond faces potential jail time for charges of reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, and carrying a concealed weapon. His first plea hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22, when our national deliberation begins.