- Much gratitude to the commenters who responded to my appeal for a lively Open Forum after previous September Fridays had yielded wan participation. It’s now at 51 posts and rising; more importantly, the posts are provocative and useful. Thanks.
- Today marks the anniversary of the first televised debate between Presidential candidates in 1960. Such debates, with all their flaws, are a boost for effective democracy, but the exaggerated belief that optics rather than substance caused the single Nixon-Kennedy debate to lose the election for Nixon put the feature on ice for 16 years. Beginning with the 1976 Ford-Carter debate, it can be argued that Presidential debates have been decisive in tilting elections more often than not: Ford’s claim that Poland wasn’t an Iron Curtain country, Carter’s obviously dishonest tale about his nuclear weapons chat with Amy, Dukakis shrugging off the hypothetical murder and rape of his wife, President Bush check his watch as if the chore of having to campaign bored him, Al Gore’s bizarre debating performance…and more recently, President Trump’s botching of one debate against an obviously handicapped opponent and his foolish rejection of another. The questions posed to Kennedy and Nixon were objective and fair: if only that element could be restored somehow, televised debates could be the unequivocal boon to democracy they should be.
- A baseball note: Over the weekend, Albert Pujols hit his 699th and 700th home runs, joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the only sluggers in U.S. baseball history to do so. (All right, Barry Bonds reached 700 too, but he cheated.) This is the first time in ten years that Albert has performed to a degree that justified his contracts, and that’s mostly because he is only being paid $2.5 million as a part-time DH by the Cardinals, his original team. That the prospect of achieving a major milestone inspired Pujols to a level of performance most assumed were gone forever doesn’t excuse his hanging on long after his predecessor greats would have said, “I quit. I’m embarrassing myself.” To be fair, none of them were guaranteed $30 million per season, either.
1. Oh yeah, this is the ethical problem the NFL should be concerned about. Apparently in the NFL, rookies are expected to foot the bill for a luxury dinner for their teammates, with the tabs reaching as high as $50,000 with tips.
In June, veteran NFL player Torrey Smith tweeted, “Dudes come into the league with no financial literacy and real problems but folks think 50k dinners are cool! NAH!” Now the league, players, fans and commentators are engaged in ethics soul-searching. Is the tradition just a ritual of team bonding, or a form of hazing that can have damaging financial consequences?
Gee, what a tough question! It’s obviously hazing. It’s bullying. It’s robbery. It’s unethical.
2. Meanwhile, NFL legend Bret Favre is embroiled in a welfare scandal in Mississippi. The great and revered former quarterback has been accused of playing a role in the misappropriation of about $8 million in public funds intended for welfare recipients, and is one of 38 people and organizations the state has sued to recoup money it claims was fraudulently diverted from a federal antipoverty program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The problem is that sports heroes have only displayed admirable character in the narrow confines of the sport in which the excelled, but the public and even otherwise responsible officials and businesses find it difficult not to trust them automatically after their playing days are over. Text messages released in a court filing show Favre using that trust to secure funds for personal pet projects such as a biotechnology start-up in which he had invested and a volleyball facility at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter is on the team.
3. Déjà vu! Shaun Lucas, a white police officer, shot and killed a 31-year-old Jonathan Price four times in the torso in Texas two years ago. Lucas, whose response was deemed “not objectively reasonable” by a preliminary investigation, was acquitted of murder by a jury last week.
The officer was promptly fired after the incident. He shot Price on Oct. 3, 2020, when Lucus tried to break up a fight that Price was involved in. Price refused Lucas’s order to submit to custody; the officer responded by trying to use his Taser on him, and Price allegedly attempted to take the Taser away from the officer, precipitating the shooting. Resisting arrest, followed by a panicky, ill-considered, reckless or excessive response: how many cases like this have there been? Why are the learning curves so flat on all sides? If resisting arrest creates no danger of legal physical harm, why wouldn’t every suspect or perp just ignore police? If a white cop is confronting an unarmed black individual, why would he ever even think of using his or her gun, knowing how such scenarios play out?
4. Why didn’t I think of this? It seems that the Canadian shop teacher with the ridiculous fake breasts may be making the opposite ideological point than the news media and students are attributing to him. Kayla Lemieux, aka Kerry Luc Lemieux.—we finally have a name now—allegedly was nearly fired recently for “toxic masculinity,” according to a former student. He has supposedly ridiculed gender-neutral bathrooms in class. Could it be that those frightening things are the tools of satire and defiance?
That would make more sense than anyone genuinely wanting to look like this…
Satire or not, however, Lemieux should still be fired.