Overturning Pitchforks

Sure, let’s make him fat. Certainly, huge. A political cartoon man representing the NFL watches his TV, lusting after the teary-eyed solidarity surrounding the lifetime ban of Donald Sterling. Now that’s good for business – trust.

On Feb 26th, the NFL was reminded that it’s just not that easy. Rather than admit it made a mistake or wait for the next scandal, which, given the NFL’s track record, couldn’t have been but a couple months out, the league chose to photoshop itself ahead of the issue, flex moral discipline, and in short, do anything to distract us from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Once again this pandering ignored due process and its own collective bargaining agreement.

Give it time to belch and collect itself, and the NFL will jealously point out the many ways the NBA lucked into their Sterling example: an eccentric eighty-year-old, easing into dementia, whose uncouth milkshake of bigotry and entitlement had been stinking up the apartment for years, was caught venting his usual inbred prowess, not by concerned employees, writers or citizens, but the tabloid journalists at TMZ. So why shouldn’t Goodell and crew (fart noise) be able to catch a similar break from Law & Order: TMZ?

When each of these stories hit, positive discussions took place on entrenched racism, domestic abuse and corporal punishment. I don’t mean to judge the sincerity of public reaction but question its direction: there seemed to be a level of highbrow bloodthirst. When I heard Rice and Peterson discussed, it was about what the NFL knew: was the punishment too steep, too lax; is it enough to turn viewers off, to affect ad revenue. The law as it is for every man was either assumed or ignored. The Rice scandal did more to show the weakness in domestic violence law than in NFL policy. The best reaction was generic – raise awareness. In all the media noise I may have missed the impact that it had, but it felt like a sad testament to our present political climate that change only took place in the smaller, broken lobbyocracym, of business. It wasn’t us, it was Rice; it wasn’t every workplace, just the NFL; and in effort to look tough, to appease we the consumer, the league was more than ready for the pitch of vigilantism circulating.

There is a world of difference between Sterling and Rice, between a protected necessary evil and the criminal, but is it strange to think these organizations should have had to do anything above the law? Should not the law embrace the scope of our reaction onto every man, onto ourselves? I realize the glorious simplification I’ve made, but the point remains. At some point organizations cross the line from self-governance to processing law. By grabbing our pitchfork we lose some of the power as citizens that we gained as consumers.



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