An ode to International Women’s Day
Behind this glass
you look at us.
And we look at you.
Behind this glass
you look at us.
And we look at you.
Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of this use of Native American imagery. The man wearing the jacket was white, and at first he didn’t want me to photograph his design when I asked if I could. “I don’t want someone to steal my visual ideas,” he said.
One of the tendencies of modern scholarship has been to “re-interpret” texts from other historical eras in light of modern (or postmodern – or post-postmodern) sensibilities. My most recent completed work from the 2014 reading list (I’m a little behind now due to some family matters) is by 14th/15th century author Christine de Pizan. The Book of the City of Ladies is typically medieval. Its author uses much material from “other sources” – which is medieval-speak for “borrowing” freely from both classical and contemporary sources – and the work is itself allegorical – the “city” of the title is actually de Pizan’s book.
The premise of the book is, however, anything but medieval. Christine de Pizan explains that she is “building the city” at the behest of three virtues (all represented in feminine form, of course): Reason, Rectitude, and Justice. These virtues – which are cardinal virtues of women, Pizan is subtly arguing – have appeared to Pizan in a dream in order to help her defend the intelligence, honor, and integrity of women. Women’s intelligence, honor, and integrity have been maligned, primarily, Pizan explains, at the hands of two groups of men – theologians and courtly romance writers. Theologians, despite their elevation of the Virgin Mary to a status nearly equal to that of Christ, primarily depict women as the source of mankind’s trouble dating back to the original troublemaker Eve. Courtly romance writers such as Jean de Meun in Roman de la Rose portray women primarily as sexual objects – creatures to be used for male pleasure and amusement with little or no thought given to their sense or feelings. Continue reading
Part 2 of a series.
Matt Record’s post yesterday arguing that Major League Baseball should admit steroid users to the Hall of Fame gets a lot of things right. For instance: Ty Cobb? Sub-human PoS, no doubt about it. And Matt could have devoted volumes to the abject malpractice of the sports “journalism” industry during Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s pursuit of Roger Maris’s single season homerun record; they chose to ignore what was obviously happening under their noses because the steroid era was good for business, and the less pontificating we her from them now the better.
And what about the ways in which MLB’s apartheid system kept some of the greatest stars of their time out of the league for decades? If anything, Matt doesn’t stomp hard enough here. Babe Ruth was a legendary hitter, but he never had to stand in against Satchel Paige, whom DiMaggio called the best pitcher he ever faced after playing against him in a 1936 exhibition.
Lefty Grove and Dizzy Dean were two of the premier pitchers of the 1930s, but neither had to deal with Josh Gibson.
The Baseball Hall of Fame maintains he hit “almost 800″ homers in his 17-year career against Negro league and independent baseball opposition. His lifetime batting average, according to the Hall’s official data, was .359. It was reported that he won nine home run titles and four batting championships playing for the Crawfords and the Grays. It is also believed that Gibson hit a home run in a Negro league game at Yankee Stadium that struck two feet from the top of the wall circling the center field bleachers, about 580 feet (180 m) from home plate. Although it has never been conclusively proven, Chicago American Giants infielder Jack Marshall said Gibson slugged one over the third deck next to the left field bullpen in 1934 for the only fair ball hit out of Yankee Stadium. Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith once said that Gibson hit more home runs into Griffith Stadium’s distant left field bleachers than the entire American League.
What would these men, and so many others, have accomplished had they had the sense to be born white? We’ll never know, of course, but it’s safe to say that The Bambino stroked a few taters off pitchers who, if not for the color barrier, would have been in the minor leagues. The same goes for MLB pitching icons, who certainly benefited from hundreds, if not thousands, of at-bats against minor league hitters instead of the likes of Gibson.
Matt gets these things right. So right, in fact, that it’s tempting to swallow his whole argument. That, however, would be a mistake.
The problem is that his case for throwing open the doors of Cooperstown to cheaters is a misdirection that asks us to look away from the real issue. In short, we are being asked to accept that since a group of people perhaps doesn’t belong in the Hall, that we should simply abandon our standards.
First off, all those white players who never faced a black or Latino weren’t cheating. As bad as the system was, DiMaggio and Ruth and Gehrig and Shoeless Joe didn’t break any rules that others were adhering to. The fault was on the owners, not the players.
Matt’s point is a valid one in another argument, but it’s irrelevant and misleading in this one.
Second, even if we accepted his reasoning, there’s still something profoundly disturbing with the idea that since one group of people got away with something, everyone should. If we wanted to push this principle to its logical extreme, we might find ourselves concluding that we should legalize murder because people have gotten away with it in the past.
I’d argue the precise opposite. Instead of using historical crimes to justify present crimes, I’d be more comfortable using what we know now to go back and purge past miscreants. Of all the major sports halls in the US, baseball is the only one that has an integrity component. If you want to launch a move to kick Ty Cobb out of the place, call me.
The Steroid Generation was a special case, wasn’t it? Each day, every day, a generation of cynical athletes woke up every morning, wiped the sleep from their eyes, and pondered, with deliberation and malice aforethought, how they were going to break the rules that day. It was premeditated, it was first degree, and it was arguably as bad for the game as gambling. When you roid up, you are attempting to alter the outcome of a contest. You are actively intending to fix the game.
I’m not going to go into a rant about the virtues of team sports and how they can mold character. But I am going to assert that character matters. Honesty matters. The integrity of the result of a sporting contest matters.
And at the risk of marking myself as some kind of archaic geezer yelling at the kids to get off my damned lawn, I’m going to say this: sportsmanship matters. It is important that we as individuals and as a society have values, and if you don’t believe that our sporting culture is an integral component of our society – as both cause and effect – you’re not paying attention.
Matt is a smart, thoughtful guy, and I wouldn’t attribute to him for even a second anything but the most honorable intentions. Truth is, there are a lot of people whom I admire that agree with him on this.
That’s great. But I want to be there someday when they have to explain to their children that it’s okay to cheat if others do it. It’s okay to break the rules if there’s money involved.
I understand how good people can be driven to such a position in a society as corrupt as ours, where the dirtier you are the better you do and where moral and ethical fiber is for punks. Trust me, I get that. I work in goddamn marketing, okay? I’ve had talks with myself where I confronted the ways in which my integrity was putting me at a competitive disadvantage. If I were willing to play the corporate game the way Barry Bonds played baseball odds are my life would be very different.
There are days where I want to cheat so badly I can barely stand it. But when all is said and done, I have to hold myself accountable to the values I think matter in life.
I can’t divorce athletics from society in general. And as such, I can’t accept that its okay to accept, let alone honor, our sporting heroes when they do things we’d punish our children for doing.
Part 1 of a series.
by Matt Record
These are – in my opinion – the top 15 best position players in the history of baseball:
The fact that two of the top 15 best hitters may never make the hall of fame is a shame and a frustratingly meaningless shame at that. Continue reading
“If the Democrats want to insult women by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”
Twitter is stupid and Instagram is Twitter for people who can’t read. @OfficialKat
The picture you see here has ignited a firestorm of outrage over the past few days.
In an airy white blouse, art gallery owner Dasha Zhukova poses serenely on a chair, in a photograph taken for a Russian fashion website. The only problem: the chair is fashioned from a contorted lifelike mannequin of a black woman, sparking an internet outcry and allegations of racism. Continue reading
This week Texas AD Steve Patterson stunned college athletics by announcing the hire of Charlie Strong as coach at the University of Texas, replacing legend Mack Brown. Most pundits had argued the influential boosters of the Texas program would not allow a candidate of color to be named to the position. Now one of those, “megabooster” Red McCombs, has come forward criticizing the hire.
Despite Strong’s record as a coach, 37-15, three bowl wins in four years and two top 15 finishes in the polls, McCombs said that “Charlie” would be a fine position coach or coordinator, but was simply not up to the Texas job.
Here are the top seven reasons Charlie Strong should not be coach at Texas. Continue reading
Did you see this?
by Patrick Vecchio
A story found on the Fox News website provides a link to the GQ magazine article in which Robertson said, among other things: “I never heard one … black person say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!” Continue reading
Mandela is dead.
Fellow Scrogue Russ Wellen called our attention to an article in the New York Times, “A Cold War Fought by Women,” about research by Dr. Sarah Hrdy that quantifies female competition and aggression. Not surprisingly, Dr. Hrdy and her colleagues conclude that it exists and, importantly from a scientific standpoint, it can be measured through experiments that can be replicated. Continue reading
It’s a trend lately, that if a party is afraid of losing an election, they pass legislation barring key groups in their opponents’ base from voting. And clearly, it’s something Texas has taken to heart. Right after Wendy Davis declared that she was running for governor, Texas Republicans set out to disenfranchise women from voting, 19th Amendment be damned.
And the way they’re keeping ladies out of the voting booth it is a doozy.
The Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC), the governing body of football in Italy, just broke bad on AC Milan over its supporters abusive behavior. Gab Marcotti at ESPN FC explains.
The Italian FA charged Milan for the fact that some of their fans engaged in racist abuse during Sunday night’s match against Napoli. In accordance with the regulations, the stand from which the abuse originated (San Siro’s Curva Sud) will be shut for one game. (Individual supporters who are identified can also be charged under separate statutes. Had the abuse been reported as more widespread, Milan could have been forced to play behind closed doors. And had it been noted by the official, the game could have been suspended.)
As you probably know, we’re not fans of racism in football at S&R. Not at all. Nor are our guest posters. So the idea that FIGC is finally getting off its ass and doing something about the appalling behavior of it fan base is welcome news.
Except, well, except that this isn’t exactly what’s happening here after all. Marcotti continues:
But here’s the thing. Of the 14 Napoli players who played that day, 13 were Caucasian. The other, Juan Camilo Zuniga, is mixed race. And he wasn’t being targeted. In fact, the songs had nothing to do with race as in skin color. They were all about Naples and Neapolitans. And apart from striker Lorenzo Insigne, none of the players were from Naples.
The song in question talked about Naples being dirty, about Neapolitans not using soap, having cholera and stinking to high heaven. Another chant implored Mount Vesuvius to erupt and clean up Naples, presumably by killing all the Neapolitans.
It’s offensive and tasteless, sure. But is it the kind of thing that should be barred from football stadiums?
Let’s venture a bit deeper into the weeds, shall we?
The Italian FA is not just taking its cue from UEFA’s new disciplinary code and specifically Article 14 (PDF), which deals with “racism, discriminatory conduct and propaganda.” And in doing so, it’s basically acting as a test case for possible future legislation.
Article 14 punishes those who “insult the human dignity of a person or group of persons by whatever means, including on the grounds of skin color, race, religion or ethnic origin.” Read it closely and you’ll see that while racism, ethnic abuse and sectarian abuse are specifically mentioned, it’s actually about insulting the “human dignity” of a group or individual. That can easily include other forms of discriminatory abuse, such as homophobic abuse.
But what they’ve done in Italy is to specify what constitutes an insult to “human dignity” and, unlike UEFA, they specifically cite (in addition to sexuality) territorial origin.
Ummm. Listen, I’m all for dropping the hammer on racism. But…this isn’t racism, is it? Is it legitimately “ethnic abuse”? Well, if you dig into Italian history, yeah, the South and the North have somewhat different ethnic histories, sort of. Of course, the diffs probably aren’t as pronounced as the gap you’d find between the North End in Boston and the cracker neighborhood I grew up in.
I don’t know. I’m ambivalent here. There can be fine lines in cases like this, and I won’t deny that sometimes Northern Italians speak about their Southern countrymen in ways that feel a bit like racism. Still, I’m not at all sure that FIGC hasn’t overreached.
Part of me says lighten up – this is basic smack talk. It’s often insensitive, I suppose, but are we going to ban fans for hurting the feelings of their opponents? (Read the rest of the article – Marcotti is on his game here.)
This one troubles me, not the least because I have earned a rep as an accomplished purveyor of the trash myself. And my beloved Rocky Mountain Blues have been known to sings songs that are, ummm, potentially hurtful. For instance, we hate the Scousers (Liverpool FC), and the article notes a certain cultural stereotype pertaining to property crime. We like to sing this one, to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine”:
You are a scouser
A dirty scouser
You’re only happy on Giro Day
Your mum’s out thieving
Your’s dad’s drug dealing
Please don’t take my hubcaps away…
And there’s “In Your Liverpool Slums”:
In your Liverpool slums
You look in a dustbin for something to eat
You find a dead rat and you think it’s a treat
In your Liverpool slums
In your Liverpool slums
Your mum’s on the game and your dad’s in the nick
You can’t get a job ’cause your too fucking thick
In your Liverpool slums
In your Liverpool slums
You wear a shell suit and have got curly hair
All of your kids are in council care
In your Liverpool slums
In your Liverpool slums
There’s piss on the pavement and shit on the path
You finger your grandma and think it’s a laugh
In your Liverpool slums
We also love to sing in honor of Manchester United hero Ryan Giggs. To the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”:
Oh Ryan Giggs (oh Ryan Giggs)
Is fucking sheep (is fucking sheep)
Oh Ryan Giggs is fucking sheep
He’s fucking sheep, sheep and more sheep
Oh Ryan Giggs is fucking sheep
This one works equally well for Gareth Bale, or for matter any Welshman with the right number of syllables in his name. The Welsh are whiter than I am – is this racist? Ethnic abuse? Or is it simply nationalistic, tribalistic, etc.? Am I describing a difference that makes no difference?
We even have at our own. Referencing the infamous scandal involving Blues captain John Terry and the girlfriend of former teammate Wayne Bridge, there’s this one to the tune of “London Bridge”:
Mrs. Bridge is going down
Mrs. Bridge is going down
On John Terry
Of course, this is personal, not collective. I just wanted to throw it in because it’s my favorite.
Frankly, these are some of the nicer ones. There are lyrics in a few songs I’ve heard that you wouldn’t repeat in a crowd of drunken sailors.
Perhaps you get where I’m going. There’s no excuse whatsoever for racism, but there’s a line, right? It can’t be illegal to be rude, can it? Sure, it’s primitive and juvenile and frankly, we already knew that I’m a terrible human being.
I mean, if you adopted these kinds of rules in the US, that would mean I could no longer point out, when the Broncos are getting ready to play the Raiders, that Oakland is the world’s largest open-air latrine. When the Avs go to play the Devils, I can’t crack that the New Jersey state bird is the housefly. That Nebraska’s football team plays on natural grass so the cheerleaders will have a place to graze. It would probably be hurtful even to snark about what a high percentage of Bengal players wind up in jail.
Or are these things okay because there is no twinge of the ethic about them?
We’ll be watching as things develop in Serie A. Like I say, I applaud any and all efforts to scrub racism from the game. But it would also be a mistake to overcorrect, I think. I’ve had some opposing fans say nasty things to me through the years, and I’d hate to see them punished over a weak-ass attempt at cleverness.
It’s bad enough that their teams suck and their children look like the mailman, don’t you think?
I was inspired to pick up the pen (well, type) and write another blog post by my good friend, Kimberly McGuire at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Last week, she and dozens of other brave women – young, old, black, white, Latina, mothers, sisters, daughters – stood up by sitting down.
I wanted to highlight this video, and this protest, for a few reasons. One, because it’s a group entirely comprised of women fighting for justice in immigration – as the video notes, the majority of those affected by immigration laws are women and their children. Two, because despite the promise of immigration reform from both the President and from Congress, we have made little progress towards a comprehensive plan for immigrants in this country.
It’s true, we have made some steps forward recently. The United States deferred the deportation of thousands of immigrants who were brought here as children (under 16) illegally , allowing them to stay in the United States. This is a huge step forward – these young men and women have done nothing wrong, they simply followed their parents to another country for a better life. But this step forward also creates problems. The children are allowed to stay, but their parents are not. Our policy is still splitting families apart.
If they don’t face separation from their families and friends, they face challenges in access to work, to health care, to security and to integration into society here. And unfortunately, they face a lack of urgency in government to work towards a common sense plan for immigration.
I think that part of the hesitation in proposing a practical plan for immigration reform, is the view that illegal immigration is a problem. Congressman Rush Holt put it best in his recent Geek Out! event when he said that immigration should not be framed as a problem, but instead as an opportunity for economic growth and cultural enrichment.
The other part of the problem is a lack of enthusiasm by Congress to propose a plan because it’s too controversial for an election year.
That is a crap excuse. It will always be an election year. The concern shouldn’t be with keeping a job. The concern our government should have, is for the people that elected them, and the country they work for, and the problems in that country that need practical solutions to issues like this.
This month marks the 41st time that conservatives in Congress have tried to repeal Obamacare. Forty one. It’s an exercise in futility if I’ve ever seen one, and a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time and tax dollars. Instead of going through this pointless song and dance again, why are we not putting our energy towards a common sense and comprehensive immigration plan?
We have average citizens (and non-citizens) who are more passionate about this reform than Washington is. There are thousands demanding action on this subject and we have yet to see significant action because politicians are too afraid to risk such a controversial vote before an election year. Why is it that men and women like Kimberly, and the women who sat with her, are willing to risk arrest to see change made, but those in the halls of Congress stay silent?
The original plan when we began this project was to offer the amendments individually, invite discussion, then produce a final document. The course of the process, though, has made a couple things clear. First, there needs to be a period to discuss the entire document in context, and second, while the original “Bill of Rights” approach perhaps had a certain formatic elegance about it, the project is better served by a less formalized articulation of general principles.
As a result, what follows is a restructured draft that accounts for the discussions so far and that also adds some new elements that have arisen since the process launched.
We will compile a final statement of principles out of this discussion.
i) No political party representing a significant minority of the electorate – and here we suggest five percent as a workable baseline – will be denied direct representation in the legislature.
ii) All legislative bodies shall be comprised proportionally according to the populations represented and all elected officials should be selected by direct vote of the people.
i) In order to eliminate the corrupting, anti-democratic influence of corporate and special interest money on the electoral process, all elections shall be publicly financed. No individual will be allowed to contribute more than a token sum to an official, candidate or political party (perhaps the cap could be in line with the current $2,000 limit for contributions to presidential candidates).
ii) All corporate, commercial and other private or publicly held entities shall be forbidden from contributing directly to any official, candidate or political party.
iii) All citizens and collective entities are free to designate a portion of their annual tax contributions to a general election fund.
iv) No contributions to the electoral process shall be allowed by foreign interests, either individual or institutional.
v) Election funds shall be administered on a non-partisan basis and no candidate or party demonstrating a reasonable expectation of electoral viability shall be denied access to funding.
i) The government of the people shall be expressly secular. No individual, religious or quasi-religious entity or collective engage or seek to influence the course of legislation or policy in accordance with theological creed.
ii) No government edifice, document, collateral, communication, or other production, including currency, shall make reference to religious concepts, including “god.”
iii) No one shall, in any legal context, including legal processes or oaths of office, swear upon a sacred text.
iv) Oaths of office shall explicitly require officials to refrain from the use of religious language and dogma in the conduct of their duties.
v) No government funds shall be spent to compensate employees who exist to serve religious functions. This includes, but is not limited to, the office of Chaplain in various military bodies.
vi) No religious institution shall be eligible for tax exempt status.
No governmental entity shall conduct secret or covert proceedings absent ongoing oversight by a multi-partisan body of popularly elected officials.
No state or local government entity shall assert special privilege or exemption with respect to established rights granted by the Federal Constitution.
i) No government, corporation, commercial or private entity shall abridge an individual’s legitimate exercise of free speech. This includes all political, social and civic speech activities, including those criticizing the government, corporations and business entities and other collective organizations.
ii) The right of the people peaceably to assemble, especially for purposes of protest, and to petition for a redress of grievances will not be infringed.
iii) The health of the nation depends on a vital independent check against public and commercial power. As such, no government, corporation, commercial or private entity shall be allowed to abridge the rights of a free and unfettered press.
iv) Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
i) No governmental, corporation or commercial interest, or other private organization shall deny to any enfranchised citizen the rights or privileges accorded to others.
ii) The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
i) All individuals shall enjoy the right to privacy and freedom from systemic surveillance by governmental entities in the absence of a legally obtained warrant articulating probable cause against the individual.
ii) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers, data, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
iii) All individuals shall enjoy the right to privacy and freedom from systemic surveillance and data gathering by corporate, commercial or other private or public entities unless they have specifically opted into such programs.
All citizens shall enjoy the right to shelter, nourishment, healthcare and educational opportunity.
No corporation, business interest or any other collective entity shall be accorded the rights and privileges attending citizenship, which are reserved expressly for individuals.
No corporate, commercial or other private or governmental entity shall be licensed, accredited or incorporated absent a binding commitment to serve the public interest.
i) In order to further the public’s interest in a free and independent legislature, elected officials shall not be allowed petition the body in which they served, either on their own behalf or on behalf of the interests of a third party, for a significant period of time after the conclusion of their terms.
ii) No person shall be allowed to assume a position charged with regulatory oversight of an industry in which they have worked in the past five years.
iii) No elected official shall be allowed to assume a position on any legislative committee charged with oversight or regulation of an industry in which they have worked or held financial interest for the past five years.
i) All workers shall have the right to organize for purposes of collective representation and bargaining.
ii) In any publicly held commercial interest where a significant percentage of the workforce is represented by a union, the workers shall be entitled to representation on the corporate board of directors.
i) All citizens will, upon attainment of their 18th birthdays, enroll in a two-year program of public service, which may be fulfilled with either civic programs or the armed forces.
ii) Enfranchisement will be earned upon completion of the public service commitment and a demonstration of a basic understanding of principles informing the political and policy issues facing the nation and the world.
i) The right of an individual who has completed a two-year military service commitment to keep and maintain firearms appropriate to the common defense should not be infringed. 
ii) The Federal government will establish guidelines by which enfranchised citizens may obtain firearms for reasonable purposes of sport and self-defense.
i) No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against him or herself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
ii) In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed five hundred dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
iii) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of professional, trained adjudicators sanctioned by the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; defendants shall have the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in their favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for their defense.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
 This disposes of the Electoral College.
 An alternative might be to entrust the public court system with the decision. Make all documents automatically become public in N years (and make destruction a federal felony) but the government can petition a federal court to hold them as secret. Court uses a strict scrutiny standard to continue secrecy, advocates for release present arguments and can appeal a secrecy decision (no appeal on orders to release). (Submitted by Evan Robinson.)
 This does not prevent said entities from policing explicitly illegal behavior, such as theft of proprietary information or sexual harassment. (Suggested by Carole McNall.)
 This item overturns the Citizens United case.
 This item eliminates the narrow “interest of the shareholders” doctrine emerging originally from Dodge vs. Ford.
 It is suggested by multiple commenters that “a significant period of time after the conclusion of their terms” might best be changed to “forever.” This is a perspective with some merit. In truth, though, we’re discussing a body of people who possess expertise that can, in the right circumstances, be of benefit to the people. A term of five years, for instance, might serve to rid the system of revolving-door corruption without permanently eliminating the possibility that a highly qualified individual may be able to contribute to the public good.
 This practice is common in Europe and promotes an environment of collaboration, instead of confrontation, between management and labor.
 Weapons systems are constantly evolving and we are now perhaps within a generation of the point where lasers, thermal lances and other currently experimental man-portable devices might be viable. The term “firearms” in this document should not be construed as limited to the sorts of projectile weapons we’re familiar with, but should instead be taken in a broader context. (Suggested by Rho Holden.)
The New Constitution has been a long time in the making, and it would be the height of arrogance to suggest that I reached this point on my own. In truth, I’m an intensely social, extroverted and associative thinker, which means that if I have an interesting idea, it probably emerged from interactions with one or more other people. This is why I work so hard to surround myself my folks who are as smart as possible. If they’re brighter than me, as is often the case, that’s all the better because that means there’s more opportunity to learn.
Some of the people in the list below are known to readers of S&R and others aren’t. Some have played a very direct and active role in my political thinking in recent years, and others contributed less obviously in conversations, in grad school classes, in arguments and debates over beers, and so on. In fact, there are undoubtedly some on the list who will be surprised to see their names, but trust me, each and every one of them helped me arrive at the present intellectual moment. This doesn’t necessarily mean they all endorse the project or want their names attached to it, so if there are things that aggravate you, please direct those comments at me and me alone.
All that said, many thanks to:
Dr. Jim Booth
Dr. Will Bower
Dr. Robert Burr
Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark
Dr. Erika Doss
Dr. Andrea Frantz
Dr. Stuart Hoover
Dr. Douglas Kellner
Dr. John Lawrence
Dr. Polly McLean
Dr. Michael Pecaut
|Dr. Wendy Worrall Redal
Dr. Willard Rowland
Dr. Geoffrey Rubinstein
Dr. Greg Stene
Dr. Michael Tracey
Dr. Robert Trager
Dr. Petr Vassiliev
Dr. Frank Venturo
Dr. Denny Wilkins
Crisis reveals character, they say.
I hope you read Otherwise’s piece on Riley Cooper the other day. It’s truly an exceptional example of the kind of honest, intelligent thinking I’ve come top expect from my colleagues here at S&R.
But while I agree with most of the principles underlying Otherwise’s reasoning, I’m not sure I’m convinced that they apply to Cooper specifically. Before I make my case, let’s review the video that touched off the whole firestorm.
I guess the question of whether to condemn Cooper or, as Otherwise suggests, give him a break, hinges on whether or not we believe what he has said since the video went public. True, he has in fact said and done a great deal that you’d ask someone who was genuinely contrite to do. No argument about that.
The thing is, I don’t believe him. Let’s begin by examining the timeline. The video broke on July 31, and the apologizing commenced shortly thereafter. But the incident happened on June 9. that’s over six weeks where he did nothing. He didn’t apologize publicly. He didn’t tell the club or his teammates and apologize to them. It doesn’t sound like he told his parents about it. You know, the people who didn’t raise him that way and who are now in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Six weeks. He. Did. Nothing. Despite his mea culpas and his insistence that this isn’t a word he uses and it isn’t the kind of person he is, he did nothing.
Okay, you may be saying, but if he made this horrible mistake and was this embarrassed by it of course he wouldn’t say or do anything. He probably hoped it would go away, and no way in hell he actually wants to draw attention to it. Think of the most embarrassing thing you ever did, Sam. Did you go public with it?
No I didn’t, and this is a great point. It’s not only possible, it’s plausible.
But it isn’t consistent with a couple of things. First, you don’t have to go public to apologize to the security guard. You can find him, apologize, maybe even try and make it up by doing something nice for him. Cooper didn’t do this.
What else? Oh – the team says he’s now receiving counseling, and if we’re to believe what he says he’s probably grateful for it. He asks us to believe that this outburst represents behavior that is out of character for him, and if so, he had to be shocked to hear that word coming out of his mouth. I can empathize with that. If I was pissed off and all of a sudden heard myself using that language it would rock my self-image to the foundation. I’d absolutely be seeking counseling of some sort because I’d be in need of it.
If Cooper sought counseling to address this horrid new self-revelation we’ve heard nothing of it, and rest assured, that’s precisely the sort of information that he and/or his agent and/or the team would be making a big deal of.
Finally, Cooper is emphatic in asserting that this is not a word he uses. Is this claim plausible? Well, Otherwise relates an incident where he got so worked up that he blurted out something that was utterly out of character. Do I believe that this happens, that people get mad and say things they don’t mean, that they call people names that they know will hurt?
Yes, I absolutely believe this. But I’m also really intuitive and I have this nuclear powered bullshit detector. I have been known to use a foul word or two. I’ve said things that would make a sailor blush. My vocabulary is a large one, and there are many, many wicked words that I have experience with. There are also words that I never use. My suspicion is that when I crack off a profanity-laced rant featuring my chosen epithets that they roll somewhat elegantly off my tongue. I imagine I might sound less fluid were I to try out new words mid-conniption.
So the question is, when you watch that video and hear Cooper in context, when you admire his rage in full flight, and then he says that isn’t a word he uses, do you believe him?
I don’t. To my ears the word sounds very much at home in his mouth. I grew up in a place where that word was common daily usage and Cooper isn’t the first Southerner I’ve heard bust it out in anger. When I watch that video, I am reminded more of that world and the people in it than I am of people who do not have that sort of racist language in their vocabularies.
I may be wrong. Otherwise may be right. I don’t know Riley Cooper and he may be telling us the straight-up truth in his recent public statements. If he is, I hope the counseling helps and that he learns from this mistake and goes on to be an example for a society trying to claw its way up out of an unspeakable history of prejudice.
I may be wrong. But I doubt it.
Riley Cooper is the Philadelphia Eagles football player who on June 9 at a Kenny Chesney concert said “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here.” Someone got it on video and it went viral. Cooper has apologized profusely, but the criticism has been unrelenting. Now he has left his team to seek counseling. It’s not clear if he’ll ever be able to return.
I’m usually the first one to call out racism, especially southern racism. Cooper is from Florida so he fits the meme. You’d think I’d be the first to excoriate him. You’d think I’d be dancing because right now Cooper is being pilloried–he’s being shunned by his teammates (70% of the NFL is black) and criticized by every talking head. Even Chesney, a country music star, has piled on.
But I am not calling for Cooper’s head. I feel sorry for him. And I think we should give him a break for three reasons.
1. He used a word. He didn’t murder someone for racial reasons like George Zimmerman. Jesus, he isn’t even accused of murdering someone period. Remember Ray Lewis? He was indicted for murder, but somehow that was no biggie. There was no outrage. None of his teammates went on the air saying they didn’t trust him. Advertisers didn’t shun him. The media didn’t pile on. Look, I think the “n-word” is a terrible thing. I am all for punishing people who use it, and particularly those who use it in a nasty way like Cooper did. But at the end of the day, it’s just a word.
If the NFL can make room for murderers, for drug dealers (Sam Hurd,) rapists and a man who tortured dogs, surely it is thick skinned enough to handle the “n-word.”
2. He took responsibility. He didn’t say, “I was drunk,” although he was. He didn’t try to blame the person who took the video or the security guard or argue he was simply standing his ground or say it was a different time or accuse people of being too sensitive or go on Rush Limbaugh and whine about reverse racism. He didn’t laugh it off like Kerry Collins did when he did essentially the same thing a few years ago. Instead he came out, faced the cameras and here’s what he said:
“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
He also apologized to his parents, because he said they raised him better than that.
3. And my final reason to give Cooper a break is because I understand. And I’m deeply ashamed to admit, so ashamed that I didn’t want to write this post.
When I was 19, a bar girl in Africa started ragging me. I called her a “black bitch.” You got it. When I got mad and drunk and my inhibitions went down, I went straight to race and sex.
I was horrified. I had marched against racism in the South during days when the other side had bricks. Later, I’d gotten maced because of it. I supported women’s rights. I was in Peace Corps for goodness sake. Peace Corp are to the socially righteous as Jesuits are to Catholics. We weren’t racists and sexists, I thought. But when push came to shove, we were. Or at least I was.
I could see the words floating through the air and wished with everything I had that I could grab them and stuff them back in my mouth. I had opened a door into my heart, and instead of the good person I expected to see there, was an ugly little nasty toad of a bigot. I will guarantee you that Cooper is nauseated with what he found behind the door.
But I learned from it. What I learned that we all have some racism deep down inside, even politically correct liberals like me. I learned that it can be very deep and hidden and you can not even know it’s there. I learned that knowing it’s there is a good thing, because years later when I was in charge of hiring and promoting people of color and a different sex than myself, I learned to watch myself and others for inadverdent stereotyping. I learned, and I think I became much better for it.
I know I am still a racist and a sexist, and while no longer homophobic, I’m still a little too quick to stereotype gays or roll my eyes. I try to correct for it, but I don’t tell myself it’s not there. And if you look back at the dozens of kids of color and women and gays I hired, mentored, and promoted, I think some of them will tell you I was a positive influence in their lives. I did some good, even if I’m not as good as I’d like.
Look, I don’t know Cooper. He may be an asshole of the first order. But I do know what it’s like to disappoint yourself in such a profound way that you lie in the dark because you’re just too embarrassed to come outside and face the world.
Hey, it’s fine for us as a society to be pissed off about Zimmerman, but let’s not take our national self-disgust out on Riley Cooper.
I know how he feels. And it’s worse than you can know.
Tiger Woods would like history to compare him to Jack Nicklaus, but if history is paying attention, the more apt comparison is Jack Johnson.
Like Johnson, he is the undisputed black champion of a sport once reserved for whites. Like Johnson, he’s faced any number of great white hopes, white players who were supposed to dethrone him. And like Johnson, his undoing in the public eye is a white woman.
Jack Johnson became world champion in 1908. At over six feet tall, he was billed as the Galveston Giant and was easily the best heavyweight of his day (although not the first black world champion boxer). Still he was denied a title shot for years. He held the title for seven years and at his peak was convicted of the Mann Act, because he took a white prostitute across state lines for immoral acts. Nevermind that the Mann Act wasn’t even in force when he committed the offense. Jack Johnson loved women, particularly white women, and was well-known and despised for it. During his defenses, he was continually fighting white fighters the media had made out to be his equal, but never were. Each was billed as “The Great White Hope.”
Tiger Woods has dominated his time as has no other golfer, even Jack Nicklaus. Since he first became the top ranked golfer in the world sixteen years ago, he’s spent ten of those years as number one. He’s won 105 times—which makes him second all time on the PGA Tour and third all time on the European Tour, which he rarely plays. He’s also won 14 majors during a time when fields are deeper and far more competitive than ever despite equipment changes that have eaten into his advantage and attempts by tournament organizers to “Tiger Proof” their courses. He’s not the first successful black golfer—that honor belongs to men like John Shippen, Jr., Teddy Rhodes, Charlie Sifford, and Lee Elder. But he’s the first dominant black golfer.
Like Jack Johnson, Tiger likes women, including white women, and he likes them in quantity. Like Johnson, he’s been savaged for it by the press and his peers. Jack Johnson was sentenced to a year and a day in jail and fled the country. Tiger took a four and half month hiatus from golf.
Unlike Johnson, who was outspoken and provocative, Tiger is controlled, even during interviews, although it’s not very convincing. Tiger’s pretty good at saying innocuous things that will look fine in print but accompanying them with withering stare that lets the reporter know he thinks it may be the stupidest question asked in the history of mankind. He’s also good at throwing in a smirk at the end to make sure everyone knows that what he just said may not be what he thinks.
Also during his career, Tiger’s faced a number of challengers highly touted by the press. It’s hard to say that Tiger’s faced a string of Great White Hopes because (1) all professional golfers are white or Asian—according to the WSJ, he’s the only black on the men’s or women’s pro tour and (2) the press is far too well-mannered to use those terms anymore.
Just because it’s not talked about, doesn’t mean the race issue isn’t still out there. Witness the recent nasty comment by Sergio Garcia and the clumsy attempt to clean it up by the European tour boss.
More than that though, the proof is in the hype that the press heaps on every good young white player that comes. Every time they argue that this is the one that will challenge Tiger. David Duval, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, and Phil Mickelson. They’ve all been fine golfers, but none of them has lived up to “Hope” status.
Now all this matters because this is the week of The Open, the most prestigious golf tournament in the world (sorry, Hootie). And we’re seeing more proof that the latest hope, Rory McIlroy, is wilting under the pressure of simultaneously trying to grow up, carry the hopes of a nation (N. Ireland), a continent (Europe), and implicitly a race on his young shoulders. Over the last six months he’s been sliding. Although he’s still number 2 in the world, behind Tiger of course, he’s a distant number 2, with Tiger at 12.37 ranking points and McIlroy at 8.79, despite having played 48 events to Woods’ 40.
Tiger probably won’t win this week. He’s on a “Tiger slump,” i.e., only four wins this year, and is showing signs of age and wear and tear. But the latest “Great White Hope” probably won’t either. This morning he shot 8 over par, 13 strokes off the lead and is now near the back of the field.
The press is doing these young up and comers no favors by throwing them in against Tiger. Just like Jack Johnson, he’ll simply beat their brains in.