"I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style."
(He’s since deleted the tweet.)
Of course, yes, the idea and every terrible implication that comes embedded within that message are ridiculous, offensive and simplistic. Comments like those are what cause awkward silences at parties as people frantically search for a way to get out of the conversation. Or go the other direction and punch the guy in the face.
But here is what I don’t get: why do so many sportswriters, from Pittsburgh and beyond, rush out the admonishment column when athletes make ridiculous statements? Adrian Peterson likened the NFL to slavery (and Mendenhall piled on), Reds infamous owner Marge Schott once had compliments for Hitler’s management skills, CBS analyst Jimmy the Greek once argued for the benefits of eugenics, Carl Everett, though far less offensive, doesn’t believe in dinosaurs. Each time, and many others in between, a circus ensued. So, is the journalism community concerned that we may be swayed by these “arguments”?
Even the crazies that nodded their head when they read Mendenhall’s tweet, what changed about them? Nothing. No public outcry was going to make them say, “Hm, maybe I am being a pea brain.” They’ve been hearing it for 10 years.
Rashard Mendenhall is one man. A football player. Our concern about him should extend from sideline to sideline. That’s it. It was a little unnerving how many people took the time to go on Twitter and inform Mendenhall of his idiocy or demand he say he's sorry.
An apology doesn’t change anything. The irony of supporting “his right to free speech,” but then demanding he apologize for using it aside—what, you’ll sleep better knowing Rashard Mendenhall is sorry? Give me a break. At this point it becomes about winning, about breaking the other guy so our moral high ground can carry the day.
Parents that want to get hopping mad and play the “role model” card should take a hard look at themselves. If your child is taking Rashard Mendenhall seriously, start getting mad at the mirror.
So why don’t writers ignore this kind of noise? If a columnist is really going to take up his space telling us why Mendenhall is such a bozo, why he’s being insensitive and why he’s embarrassing the Steelers, to me, that’s just lazy. No sh*t, pal. All you’re doing is becoming one more wall in the echo chamber of people that perpetuate the ridiculousness.
Good journalism informs people of events and ideas they don’t already know.
I know that a group of psychopaths killed over 2,800 Americans on September 11th, 2001. I don't give a damn whether the guy on my fantasy team agrees.
Follow Caleb at www.twitter.com/calebgarling