Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk””

bridge cards

This Comment of the Day is a week late, for which I apologize. The topic is still as vivid as ever however, especially since the episode in question, Harvard’s  premature ending of its men’s soccer team’s season because of real, bona fide, sexist locker room talk misogyny that escaped into the world at large, got filed in the “This will help elect Donald Trump” category. 

In the discussion threads, the themes expanded into race and “white privilege.” Chris Bentley, an African-American commenter here, reiterated a theme of some other posts here, that the players were punished under a double standard that allows women engage in direct sexually harassing conduct without disapproval. To this, another commenter protested….

Oh please. This is just right-wing PC nonsense, trying to deny that there is any difference between men and women. Earth to Bentley: there is a difference. Ditto between black and white. And a lot of it has to do with power. Hint: if you wanted power, and had the choice to be born as a) black or b) white, which would you choose? How about a) male or b) female? Get real – everyone knows there are power imbalances except in your fevered mind where “if the behavior were reversed” it would be unacceptable. The behavior ISN’T reversed, and can’t be, because the world is not wired that way.

Here was Chris Bentley’s brave and provocative response, the Comment of the Day, under the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk.” I’ll be back at the end for some additional comments….and a poem.

You are, very directly, telling me that regardless of what I think, or the experiences Ive had in my life, when it comes to having “power”, I will always fall short. And I’m the one spouting nonsense. Great pep talk, you should coach little leaguers.

If I had a choice to be born white or black, I would choose to still be born black. Not because it runs contrarian to what you believe, but because, as Ive told you on numerous occasions, I have never (that I am aware of) been the victim of racial discrimination, and, just so happen to be proud of being black, so there’s no reason for me to wish to be of a different race. Now you have previously pointed out that my life story is anecdotal, but this question is directly about what I would choose, and seeing the changing winds, about how its now en vogue to demean whites with impunity, especially white males, I’ll gladly continue being black, thank you very much.

And since the subject of the question is, again, me, and I’ve spent my lifetime working in the world of education where every last direct supervisor (except one) has been female; and considering how I was turned down for my dream job, as the Athletic Director at Mercy High School (an all-girls school) in Baltimore City, because my interviewer (who was also the outgoing AD) told me, during the interview, that she was more likely than not going to give the position a female, as she preferred to have a female in that role; with that in mind, if I want to get to the leadership positions that I want in the world of education, it would not hurt my chances to gain that “power” if I was reincarnated as a woman.

My apologies for that insanely long run-on sentence; I am just that incensed that you see me, a black man, as someone who no matter what I do, will always come in second to the white man in my attempts to succeed in this world. That, if I really want to be successful, I’d have been better of being born white.

Go on, keep telling me I have less power than you, because of my skin color.

I’m back. Chris stakes out the extreme opposite of the “white privilege” approach to eliminating the results of racial and gender bias. It’s an admirable and practical position, because it frees him of the handicap of always being able to attribute his failures and deficits to a persistent systemic handicap beyond his control. He is quite correct, for the current stance of perpetual victim widely embraced by minorities and women may have reap short term benefits but long term damage, like racial and gender animosity, societal divisions, and real or perceived discriminatory policies and attitudes against men and whites.

How much healthier it is for every individual to regard it as his or her responsibility to go as high and far from the starting point fate, luck or chaos granted you, without resentment and anger over the advantages held by others, or being discouraged or angered about how unfair it is that you face challenges others do not. Resolving that it is in one’s power to win, despite the odds, is quintessentially American idealism.

Again, Clarence Darrow’s favorite poem:

Whist  by Eugene Fitch Ware

Hour after hour the cards were fairly shuffled
And fairly dealt, but still I got no hand;
The morning came, and with a mind unruffled
I only said, “I do not understand.”

Life is a game of whist. From unseen sources
The cards are shuffled and the hands are dealt;
Blind are our efforts to control the forces
That, though unseen, are no less strongly felt.

I do not like the way the cards are shuffled,
But yet I like the game and want to play;
And through the long, long night will I, unruffled,
Play what I get until the break of day.

10 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk””

  1. Jack,
    Your introductions and responses to these are getting longer and longer. Why not just let Chris’s comment speak for itself? Especially considering he referenced personal experiences for which you have no frame of reference. Comments of the Day lose their meaning the more of your own jargon you tack on to the front and end.

    Also, why is white privilege in quotations marks? Do you not think it exists or do you think it’s overblown? That latter statement is justifiable, the former is far less so.


    • You’re imagining it, but in this case, I had no choice. The post was delayed, the context needed to be established, and it was a response to a response: since the COTD did not seem to be related to the post it came on, I had to explain.

      I often included my comment to a post afterwards, and it has frequently been longer than that. You are imagining rules and approaches that are options. I could let the COTD speak for themselves, but I often don’t, and won’t.

      I think white privilege is a euphemism for anti-white bias, and is essentially racism. Damn right I think its overblown. The term itself is offensive. Yes, everyone sees the world through an inherently warped perspective. Not just whites.

      • “Yes, everyone sees the world through an inherently warped perspective.”

        Yes. The best we can do is to glimpse how our perspective might be warped and seek to understand those with whom we disagree. Hard to do. Most damaging is the view that ‘talking with the enemy’ is tantamount to treason or at least a sign of weakness. Spunk powered ‘FU’s might be necessary from time to time but only if they can lead to honest dialogue and compromise. What chance?

      • Jack,

        “You are imagining rules and approaches that are options”

        With respect, I’m not imagining anything as I only stated an observation and an opinion based on said observation. Neither were stated as fact (Yes, I never said “I think,” but that’s lazy writing. Any statement made by anyone is obviously their own opinion/perspective). You’re the one imagining things, you are.

        Regarding white privilege, it’s not just about seeing the world through a warped perspective (everyone does, I agree), but that it’s an “easier” perspective to have. It’s the same as good-looking privilege or legacy privilege in social organizations and some schools. Certain classes of people reap certain benefits because of their race, looks, or social station, and then often internalize their experience as universal. “If I asked for a bank loan and they gave it to me without question, and that minority/woman/ugly person didn’t get one, they must not have been as deserving.”

        Also, this IS a critique: The election is over. Can you please, PLEASE take Trump’s buffoonish face and small hands off your background. We’ll see enough of his smug mug for the next (four?) years to fill a lifetime, I think you could promote a lot of sanity by not making people look at it when they don’t have to.

        I still can’t get over the fact that his portrait will be included amongst Washington, Jefferson, and so many others more deserving .. and there’s going to be a Trump State of the Union … and a Melania is the first lady. Now, excuse me while I throw up.


        • Your “I only stated an observation” dodge is old and weak, Neil, and tiresome. That was a criticize, and my response is: who says I have to let COTDs “speak for themselves”, or that it is preferable that I do? As an experienced blogger and by definition an expert on THIS blog, I have determined that it isn’t. I am the authority on what works best here, by definition. Suggestions welcome, like” Have you ever considered not introducing or commenting on a COTD?” Why, yes, I have! And I decided this was the best way to present them. Thanks for asking!

          “but that it’s an “easier” perspective to have”—nope. Stereotyping and bullshit. Is it easier than say, Malia Obama? How did I have it easier than, say Tiger Woods? Our challenges are the products of more than color. Can it be an advnatage being white? It can be. Being white lost me a job as an AUSA…I was told so, directly. My entire like would have been different. One of the black lawyers who was chosen ahead of me is a judge today. I would LOVE being a judge. How was I privileged then, Neil. Was I privileged to have a terrific role mode as a dad, who was home every night and sacrificed for his kids, or are the over 75% of black fathers who don’t bother to marry the mother of their kids assholes?

          Funny, I had replaced the background before I got this. “I still can’t get over the fact that his portrait will be included amongst Washington, Jefferson, and so many others more deserving.’ by the way, is pure bias. None of the Presidents were more or less deserving than Trump when they took office.

  2. Yep. On Veterans Day I think of the Tuskegee Army Air Corp pilots who despite intense discrimination against them fueled by ignorance and predjudice that they would never be more than second class pilots, persevered and proved that they were the best of the best.

  3. I dunno about your self-control, Chris. If you can’t curb your run-on sentences, you know, you’ll never succeed in this world.

  4. Thinking about Chris’s comments, holding the position that one always remains a victim of racial, ethnic, sexual, or religious identity does far more damage than Jack describes. It leaves one as an angry, depressed, miserable person doomed to living a shabby existence and desperately needing help from community organizers or the government. I point to the example of the Jews who have consistently refused help from the government “to remedy past injustices” and have prospered as much as any group in the USA.

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