Steve McNair, Magic Johnson, Jim Brown and the First Amendment

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Steve McNair, Magic Johnson, Jim Brown and the First Amendment
(Photo by Mario Anzuoni-Pool/Getty Images)

This has been an interesting and more than entertaining world of sports over the last week or so. 

It started with Jim Brown proclaiming that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are a disappointment and ended with “Magic” Johnson proclaiming that Michael Jackson made him a better point guard.

What a wonderful country we live in that allows people to get on television or radio and say whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous it might sound.

More unsettling for me than the thoughtless words of our athletes is the heartless and scathing words of our media talking heads and any "Joe Public" given a microphone.

As Americans, we have the freedom of speech, but what are the responsibilities we hold that go with that freedom?  Are we so diverse in our national history that there are no real folkways or mores to govern what is acceptable to say and what is not?

Speaking ill of the dead, I thought, is a folkway that was well entrenched into the American psyche. Our Puritan history has entrenched in our social dynamic that it is not acceptable to judge a person who has been called to be judged. The sentence for such an offense would be ostracised and maybe you'be be forced to appear on the next reality show as the has-been radio host.

Or maybe those are mores that were placed upon me by my Bible-belt parents or influence of superstitions borne of the slavery experience. I tend to forget which is which.

Unfortunately, our shock-jocks and shock-writers (Jason Whitlock) stoke the flames of non-conformity to the point of consuming these traditions that found refuge in the minds of our founding fathers and the hearts of our grandmothers.

What are the aims of the people who pronounce a deceased man, that they do not know personally, a bad father? People who do such a thing are coward. 

To criticize a person’s life when they have no chance to defend or redeem themselves is an attack without reward or repercussion. What is anyone gaining from the commentary? 

You are not making the statement with hopes that offending person may hear you and reform themselves. You are not warning others who may be ensnared by some sort of trap that this person could be setting. 

What do you have to gain from this?

A few more hits on the Web page, a pat on the back from your far right cronies at Fox.  Now they are talking about you on AM radio and everyone’s calling to get an interview.  Maybe it is just a single way to be better than a person who is more talented, harder working, and who has accomplished more than you.

There is no righteousness in kicking a man that is down and there is only villainy in defaming a person’s life in the clear sight of those loved ones that have been left behind.

I send prayers out to the McNair family, the Jackson family, and any other family who has lost someone. May we all remember the reasons that we love the one’s we’ve lost and let those who would judge them harshly be judged with justice.

Load More Stories

Follow B/R on Facebook

Out of Bounds

Olympics

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.