David Stern needs to re-learn how to choose his analogical retorts better. A lot better.
In a recent interview with NBA Commissioner David Stern on the The Jim Rome Show (via TheBigLead.com), ESPN reporter and radio host Jim Rome half-jokingly asked if there is any validity to the conspiracy theory that the NBA 2012 draft was rigged to give the New Orleans Hornets the No. 1 draft pick (via SI.com).
The question led to a heated minute-long exchange which piqued when Stern asked repeatedly, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
The exchange can be found at the 7:50 mark of the interview.
Stern managed to keep his nerve directly after the question. He first scolded Rome with "shame on you" for opening up this area of discussion.
If Stern wishes to take a moralistic, if not overly paternalistic, stance against these media practices, that's fair game. Yes, the media can at times succumb to conspiracy theory, hyperbole and aggressive wagging. These elements of journalism are, at times, shame worthy.
However, Stern's subsequent "did you stop beating your wife yet" retort to Rome's efforts to press the issue bespeaks a far more deeply seated level of anger and callousness. It's also glaringly inappropriate, not only to Rome and his family, but to millions of women in the United States.
The purpose of Stern's domestic violence analogy was to give Rome a taste of his own medicine, so to speak. If Rome has the gall to ask such an insulting question to Stern, then he should stomach that Stern may return the favor with an insulting question of his own.
Here, however, Stern's analogy trivializes one of the largest societal cancers in the United States. An NBA conspiracy theory is fun blogger rant and gossip material. That. Is. All.
But domestic violence?
Based on studies provided by the Domestic Violence Resource Center, 75% of Americans know at least one person who has been a victim of domestic violence. One in four Americans are victims of domestic violence, and 85% of those victims are women.
Here's a harrowing piece of research on the matter: 5.8 billion dollars are spent each year treating intimate violence victims.
Domestic violence is an epidemic in this country that nobody should belittle. Many abused victims live in fear of this epidemic for the rest of their lives.
David Stern has been considered in the past a master of qualified language and analogies. Today, that status dropped down a few leagues.
The good news is that in this instance, master word play is unnecessary. A simple "I'm sorry" to Jim Rome, his family, and domestic violence victims would do.