(On the way to lovely Annapolis, MD to present my Clarence Darrow legal ethics program, along with D.C. actor Paul Morella, the real star of the day and the best Clarence Darrow portrayer alive. Paul starred in my 2000 original one-man show about the iconic lawyer-rogue, and has been performing it for lawyer groups and bar associations ever since.)
1 Déjà vu! I would write a full post about this, but you can essentially go to all the football head trauma essays, search and replace NFL with NHL, and you’ll pretty much have it. The New York Times reports on a 53 year old ex-pro hockey player whose brain yielded evidence of CTE, and evidence is mounting the the violent sport is doing damage to players similar to what the NFL denied for so long. Right now, the National Hockey League is denying it too:
To the N.H.L. and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, the diagnosis is likely to be the latest piece of evidence to dismiss or combat. Even as links build a chain bridging the sport to C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, and some of the game’s most revered names push the league to take a more open-minded approach, the N.H.L. has denied any connection between long-term brain damage and hits to the head.
The N.F.L. did the same, for many years, until the evidence became too overwhelming, the numbers too much to counter with plausible deniability. Facing a huge class-action lawsuit, the N.F.L. eventually admitted to the connection and agreed to a roughly $1 billion settlement with former players. (That has not kept the sides from continuing to fight over the payouts, amid accusations of fraud and intimidation.) The N.H.L., following the N.F.L.’s strategy of about a decade ago, still contests any role in the burgeoning science of C.T.E., in the courts of law and of public opinion.
What’s going on here? Violent pro sports are popular and profitable, so they will continue maiming players and devastating their families until the public finally refuses to have blood on its hands. It will take a while, and many lives will be destroyed, but in the end, football and hockey are going to have to be responsible, and also held responsible for the carnage their greed has caused.
2. Yeah, I’m being unfair and partisan when I accuse progressives of being hostile to free speech and diversity of views… A hip-hop and R&B radio station in Detroit has announced that it won’t play Kanye West’s music. The alleged justification was the rapper’s dumb remarks about slavery. On “TMZ Live,” West said,
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”
That’s pretty stupid for sure, but hardly any more stupid than the kinds of things West has been saying his whole career as his fans cheered him on. He’s welcome to hijack a telethons to say, for example, that President Bush intentionally let blacks die after Katrina, but this goes too far. (Someone please explain to me exactly what he thought he was saying, if you have time.)
Then there is Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District in New Jersey, which worked with a local VFW chapter to dedicate a newly constructed foyer to alumni who were killed in combat while serving in the armed forces. A dedication ceremony scheduled for May 21 will highlight veterans and their sacrifices for their nation and their community. Kyle Reyes, an alumnus of the school, was invited as the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony, but the superintendent removed Reyes from the program. Reyes is an evangelical Christian, and opposes homosexuality as a sin. Even though is the national spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, and created over 160 episodes of Behind The Uniforms, and even though his speech was going to have nothing whatsoever to do with gay issues or controversies, Reyes was removed because the superintendent feared that Reyes would make the students feel “unsafe.” Said a stunned Reyes in a Facebook post,
“The VFW Post 872 invited me because of the work we do in the veteran and law enforcement communities. It never was and never would have been about politics. The fact that the VFW was forced by the superintendent to un-invite me because I’m a Conservative spits on the graves of these veterans who fought for a country of FREEDOM.”
I think that’s fair. Now someone explain to me what the current definition of “safe” is in Progressive Land. I don’t get it.
3. And on a related theme, or at least I think it is: The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that it is selling works by white painters to buy art by non-white artists. The museum’s director, Christopher Bedford calls this “an unusual and radical act to take.” No, it’s a racist, anti-art, divisive art to take. Works by by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and other works are being removed because the artists are white. How is this different from, for instance, taking down artworks because the artists were Jewish or gay? It isn’t. Bedford decribed his decision as “transformative,” and justified it by declaring “the most important artists working today, in my view, are black Americans.” Okay, let’s assume, arguendo (I love being able to use that word) that Bedford is right about the important artists. It doesn’t matter: by all means, but work by important artists. But they aren’t important because they are black, they are important because of their art. If I determine that the most important actors working today are short (which is usually the case with actors), does it follow that I should be looking for short actors rather than good ones?
The museum’s decision is an endorsement of bias. Anyone who thinks that a work of art of any kind is superior or inferior because of the melanin content of the artist is 1) a bigot and 2) an idiot. [Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur]
4. I just have to mention… Thomas Tramaglini, Superintendent of Schools in Holmdel, New Jersey and a lecturer at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, was arrested after a police investigation determined that he was the one who had been regularly defecating on a local high school football field. They caught him on video, in fact. The Pooper-intendent, as he is now being called, is charged with lewdness, littering and public poopery.
He is, we are told, “on leave” from his $147,504 a year job. Yes, apparently nightly crapping on a school field still isn’t an automatic firing offense. “He made a mistake, that’s all. He’s a terrific superintendent!” If someone is making that argument, I want names.
5. Why is Scott Pruitt still EPA chief? Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has 11 ongoing federal probes into his conduct. There is this, new allegations that Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general, in ways that look extremely shady. There is this, a report in The Washington Post that as soon as he took over the EPA, Pruitt made a list of his preferred travel destinations and told his staff to find official reasons for him to travel to those countries, according to four EPA officials.
Pruitt still has a job because everyone knows that the news media and Democrats would be demanding his removal even if he were as pure as the driven snow. They know that the hold-over EPA employees want to get rid of him because of his policies, and his ethics are secondary, and a means to an end. Just because Pruitt’s accusers are biased and partisan doesn’t mean they aren’t right, but this is another example of how divisive politics interferes with ethics.
Of course, if Pruitt weren’t so corrupt and arrogant, this wouldn’t be an issue.