I’m Curious: Do Women—Any Women, A Lot Of Women, Adult Women, Rational Women—Think This Times Column Makes Sense? (Because It Doesn’t)

Jerry Richardson (above), the 81-year-old original owner of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL,  has decided that rather than ride out the sexual harassment allegations  recently reported  by Sports Illustrated, the wisest (and most lucrative course) will be to sell the team after this season. His profit will be somewhere in the billions, not that he isn’t a billionaire already.

New York Times sportswriter Juliet Macur is grievously offended by this, writing,

“Here’s what would make more sense: For Richardson to announce that the proceeds of the sale — or even just a couple hundred million? — would be donated to the women he harassed…[Many men] have been chased from the top of their professions for disgusting behavior involving women they worked with. They are suddenly pariahs, their reputations destroyed. But they remain very rich men, and their families, for generations, will be able to live off the financial rewards they collected while perpetuating these offenses….Richardson, who made his fortune in the fast-food industry, might be the richest of all the men accused in the #MeToo movement so far. Perhaps it’s appropriate, in a legal sense, that he is able to sell his company and walk off the stage. But it doesn’t seem morally fair that he should benefit so richly from it.”

This is pure, unadulterated emotionalism and indignation unfiltered by thought or coherent societal values. If these are the kinds of ethical arguments—and it is an ethical argument–major information sources are going to publish as worthy of being injected into public discourse, we might as well tear up the laws, forswear ethical systems, embrace passion, anger, vengeance and the rest as our sole tools to govern human affairs, and resign ourselves to chaos.

Let’s ignore the fact that the accusations against Richardson remain allegations only. That means all of Macur’s fury are based on the fatuous Kirsten Powers Principle: “Due process is for the courts!” As ugly as the accounts in Sports Illustrated are, they have not been proven, Richardson has not had the chance to offer alternative versions of the episodes involved or to defend himself, and all of Masur’s edicts are based on the biased, deliberately fantastic and intellectually dishonest feminist tenet that women always are as true and accurate, fair and reliable, trustworthy and devoid of confounding influences as an atomic clock when the accuse a man of sexual misconduct. Yeah, tell it to Brian Banks, Juliet. To say this is dangerous nonsense is a dire insult to dangerous nonsense. But as I said, lets ignore that fatal flaw in her column, and assume everything alleged about Richardson is true because women say it is.

That still leaves us with her goo-goo, ga-ga, mouth-breathing concept of justice, which is a viral mutation especially ascendant among progressives these days, as well as kindergartners , religious fanatics, and the incurably self-righteous. This is, to be brief, that people who do bad things should not have any rights at all, and that they should be driven into the wilderness with sticks and fire after forfeiting their worldly possessions to the good people, like anyone they have wronged or who say they have wronged, minorities, the poor, women, and Masur.

My candidates for the most ignorant, thought-free sentence published in the U.S. this year by a major news source would include this gem: “Perhaps it’s appropriate, in a legal sense, that he is able to sell his company and walk off the stage. But it doesn’t seem morally fair that he should benefit so richly from it.” As Erin Brockavich (Julia Roberts) says to Ed Masry (Albert Finney), “Don’t use big words you don’t understand.”  Morals are based on codes and moral edicts are by definition handed down by an authority. In this society, our code is the law, created according to our society’s norms. Under what moral code does fairness demand that a cannot profit from selling his own property? Not the Ten Commandments: there’s also nothing in there about “having committed sexual harassment forfeits your right to property.” Not Sharia Law: don’t get me started on that moral code’s sense of fairness. Then what? What is Masur alluding to? Let me rephrase that: what the HELL is she alluding to? Oh, she doesn’t know; she’s just blathering. She’s mad, and she’s a woman, so hear her roar, even though roaring is not articulate or enlightening.

Maybe she’d like the moral code dictated by W.S. Gilbert’s Mikado:

Back to Juliet after that musical interlude…

“His career shows how abusing women hardly prevents some men from becoming fabulously wealthy and celebrated businessmen in male-dominated domains like Hollywood, restaurants and sports,'” she writes, stating an unalterable fact of life as if she just discovered it. I hope this isn’t too hard for you to grasp in your current state, Juliet, but virtually all successful men and women do bad things unrelated to the things that made them successful, because more avoidance of bad conduct does not, by itself, guarantee success. I know this drives some progressives crazy: it’s so unfair that talented, hard-working, brilliant, risk-taking people who also are greedy, selfish and mean as well as lucky succeed when so many good, virtuous, nice, unlucky  people don’t. That’s not morally fair! What are we going to do about that?

Well, that’s what laws are for, Juliet. I hope this isn’t coming at you too fast. Laws and various systems of compensation and punishment lay out what society believes are just consequences for various kinds of misconduct and how those consequences are arrived at and managed, based on ancient ethical principles like proportion, process, openness, impartiality, proportionality, consistency and equity. The Masur theory, or “I’m do damn angry at all these harassing men that I think we should just take away what they have built and earned and give it to their victims, so there!” not only won’t work, it’s unethical, it’s unjust, it’s based on pure emotionalism, and it’s insane.

Opinion pieces like this just make ignorant people who don’t know how to address ethical problems even more confused and irrational than then already are. I know its thesis supports the Democrat’s embarrassing Plan J to undo the 2016 election“Donald Trump has harassed women in the past so he doesn’t deserve to stay President and has to resign”—but newspapers exist to make the public better informed and smarter, not the opposite.

37 thoughts on “I’m Curious: Do Women—Any Women, A Lot Of Women, Adult Women, Rational Women—Think This Times Column Makes Sense? (Because It Doesn’t)

  1. Wonder what Juliet would say if Jerry Richardson had declared that he would donate several million dollars to women’s causes *before* she wrote this moral scold-fest. What are the odds she’d have a cow over Richardson trying to purchase redemption?

    “Like the smug nobility that purchased indulgences and triggered Martin Luther to break with the Catholic Church…”

  2. Nope. If he has the slightest interest in a liberal charity donation for one his family member favored, that just went out the window. The way they’re baying, I’m wondering how much blood and death they want. And how they can think their behaviors are any different than lynchings… I just wish they’d let the courts do their jobs for those still chargeable.

  3. I think the appropriate response from the Times editors would have been, “Sorry sweetie. That’s not really how it works.” Silly me.

  4. I think Juliet should hold her breath until the bad man gives his property to the good people, and somebody should help prevent her from cheating.

  5. Perhaps Juliet Macur can argue for the case of reparations to women for previous centuries of patriarchy endured, along the lines of Ta-nehisi Coates’ case for reparations to black people. Juliet can then propose said reparations to be ended when patriarchy will be completely dismantled. Now I know this idea is far fetched, but given current fashionable progressive thought (not conflating with all people of the Left), I think her readers would deem it tenable and she would not be shunned by polite society.

    • It’s not a far fetched idea, Aleksei, at least to the left. It’s called
      intersectionality. And it’s an article of faith among the left and college professors and college students and college graduates.

      • OB, good catch with intersectionality! Reparations to women can be combined with reparations to black people. Although, you could argue it’s unfair that black women would get paid more, but if you permit the premise of the “progressive stack”, it would be legitimate. For those unaware, the “progressive stack” is the idea that some victims have it worse than others, creating a victim hierarchy. For an example, women have it bad, black people have it worse, black women have it even worse. You get the idea. Thus, if one is in a class that is deemed most oppressed, they have more power and they have the most credibility to call out their “oppressors”, or anyone unlucky to be in their crosshairs, and demand agreement with themselves.

    • I’ve proposed a series of voluntary funds that would provide reparations from anyone who feels they’ve unfairly benefited from the sufferings of another group. Every year, you just total up the contributions and cut checks to the members of the groups.

      • Instead of monetary reparations, why not base the whole tax code on victimhood credits? Each category of victimhood is worth differing quantities of credits. Let’s say you’re a gay black female handicapped muslim; you would have 5 different credits to add up towards your total. I’d venture to guess that such a person would get a pretty good-sized refund check. Of course, a hetero white male Christian would probably just go to debtors prison for the year, at which time he might be able to drop the hetero Christian thing and buy his way out to cover the rest of his sins.

  6. It seems some of our frequent commentators of the Left persuasion have been absent in the last few posts. I do hope that they are not discouraged by some of our more vocal commentators of the Right persuasion. I personally enjoy hearing all sides, and I appreciate that you take the time to contribute and voice your views. Maybe some are discouraged by the more frequent posts criticizing stories emanating from the Left. I do hope their absence will be short lived.

    • Thank you, Aleksei. As a resident usually-lefty, It does get daunting on occasion, but your thoughtful comment helps; much appreciated.

      • Charles Green, I’m glad you stay around, even if the going gets tough. At the end of the day, we’re all here to have a civil discussion, to inch ever closer to the truth, and to learn how take the ethical road through life, even if isn’t the easiest path.

    • Spartan and Charles can stay, they actually have something to offer. Frankly I’ve been posting less because I am discouraged by the long threads that just turn into “no, you’re wrong, no, YOU’RE wrong.”

  7. I don’t particularly disagree with you on this one, but it raises a tangential question: what is the role of sportswriters in a newspaper?

    Sports are “news” in the sense that they should report game scores and highlights. But of course all successful sports writers look a lot more like a mix of cheerleader, outraged fan, and occasional social critic. Sports columns seem, to me, to have a foot in the news pages and a foot in the editorial pages.

    The same author wrote a piece praising the IOC for its recent actions about Russia, critiquing them mainly for having waited too long. Is that commentary? Is it political? I’d have to say sort of, yes.

    To be clear, I’m not critiquing your commentary on moral arguments – those are valid in any forum. But opinions have different roles on the editorial page than on the news page, and sports pages are a funny amalgam. Any thoughts on how sportswriters should address ethical issues? (And maybe the answer is ‘no differently from editorial writers.’)

    • I believe sportswriters are reporters and journalists, and are subject to the same ethical standards exactly. I know you know that many of our most famous journalists had experience on the sports pages (and many famous writers as well.) I also expect sportswriters to be more ethically astute than the average reporter, because sports are symbolic and metaphorical cultures demanding character, and thus a knowledge of character to describe them accurately.

      My expectations have seldom been met.

    • The late, great Frank Deford wrote an SI piece (which regrettably I couldn’t track down) about how sports-writing/reporting evolved from colorful game summaries & box scores to feature/human interest writing.

      This is the type of article he was thinking of when he said blogging was: “The pole dancing of sports journalism,”

  8. The principle that those who do wrong should not be allowed to profit from their wrongs is not without basis in either ethics or the law. It is that principle which gave rise to the “Son of Sam” laws that allow suits against convicted criminals by their victims or the victims’ families if they receive assets from the sale of their stories. It is also that principle that sometimes leads to “Son of Sam” clauses being worked into plea agreements, whereby any profits made from the sale of a pleading wise guy or terrorist’s story goes to the government. Much more than that, and you run into First Amendment problems. It’s also a given that courts can order restitution to victims as part of a sentence or as part of a plea deal.

    However, as pointed out above, all of these legal principles involve, presumably, a wrongdoer who has either had his day in court or decided to forego his day in court in the hopes of better terms. Even in an employment or other civil setting, an accused wrongdoer is not without rights. A company who not only terminated an accused harasser but stripped him of his pension and whatever other assets came with the position, all without so much as an investigation, would almost unquestionably find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, and could conceivably lose, which is why a lot of those situations resolve with a more favorable deal. In this case, the accused is choosing to walk away before it even comes to that, and cash out.

    Juliet Macur is looking for blood, or the equivalent. I know the feeling, we all know the feeling, and writers and sports entertainers the world over know how to exploit that feeling very well. That’s why thrillers almost always end with the initial wrongdoer dead and WWE kayfabe angles always end with the heel badly injured and humiliated. We all have that urge to jump to revenge, that snap reaction of “why that blankety-blank, I’ll teach him!”

    This isn’t the Middle Ages, where knights ran around in chainmail banging each other on the head with battle-axe and mace over any old dispute. This isn’t Tokugawa Japan, where the samurai cut off each other’s heads if they looked at each other cross-eyed or didn’t bow QUITE right. This isn’t the Wild West, where if someone won one too many hands of poker you could call him out for a showdown with clinking spurs and whoever was faster on the draw won.

    Actually, I’m not sure even those are valid comparisons. The challenged knight, the samurai who accidentally ticked off another one, and the suspicious gambler all had equal standing and a chance to defend themselves. There’s always a chance that the chivalric comer who was a little too full of himself might be the one who ended up on the jousting field with the side of his head smashed in, or the samurai who drew his sword first might not live to sheathe it, or the gambler who issued the call might be the one lying dead on a dusty street with a bullet between his eyes.

    Juliet is looking to figuratively take us back to even darker times: the Troubles, where anyone accused of saying or seeing the wrong thing was killed or maimed, the Red Terror in Russia, where anyone accused of being a White (czarist or Keresnkyite, it mattered little which) was quickly shot, or the Reign of Terror in France, where anyone accused of being against the revolution “won a prize in the lottery of St. Guillotine.” No one conducted hearings. No one investigated. No one even asked more than a few token questions if anyone asked any at all.

    We’re not yet dealing in life and death, only in destroying lives and confiscating what others earn. However, the idea that anyone should have his life destroyed or what he has earned taken away purely on an accusation, without anyone even bothering to ask “did something happen?” “what really happened?” or “what should the punishment be?” is repulsive and should be repulsive to anyone who adheres to the principles of the Constitution. Unfortunately, the left is only interested in the Constitution as and when it benefits them.

    • We should also keep in mind that Juliet has seen the Obama DOJ and SEC exact essentially extra judicial revenge on the big banks. City and the others have been shaken down for literally billions of dollars in “fines” and that money has been shuffled off to lefty activist organizations of the Obama administration’s choosing without any statutory or Congressional authority to do so. So of course Juliet just thinks, “Hey. Take a bunch of money from this guy and give it to deserving victims and the oppressed!” The more I think about it, the less surprised I think we should be by her thinking.

    • But Richardson is not a professional sexual harasser, Steve. He hasn’t profited from mistreating women; indeed, it’s probably hurt his businesses. The fact that he made money in legitimate businesses while being an asshole does not mean that he made his money by being an asshole, but while being an asshole. The Son of Sam law prohibits a criminal from legally benefiting from committing a crime. 1) Harassment isn’t a crime and 2) by no stretch of the imagination did he make money out of it.

      • Absolutely true, hence the rest of what I said. The principle works – but only for those actually found wrong after actual fact-finding.

    • That’s a really thoughtful, thought-provoking and educational comment, Steve-O – right up until your last gratuitous sentence. I think I’ll just choose to ignore that sentence, and simply appreciate the excellent content you provided. (I’m being serious, not snarky – it’s an excellent comment),

        • Maybe for the sake of civility, but it’s hardly untrue. Related to that is what Andrew Wilkow calls “The History of Now”, where previously-held standards can be disposed of and re-adopted as present circumstances warrant, among them items from the constitution/Bill of Rights.

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