Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What Would An Ordinary Person Do?

I'm just going to rant for a little bit. As a Bears fan who is not and never has been a member of the press, I don't have access to the coaching staff or the players of the Chicago Bears. The Chicago Bears only just played their third preseason game last Thursday, and they'll be playing their fourth in just two nights, and there are loads and loads of things I'd like to ask the Bears coaching staff and players so I have a better idea of what to expect out of the game or out of the upcoming season. But since I can't do that, I rely on the real press to do it for me. And right now, the press is not doing it's job. Apparently, this is because the members of the sports media doing the writing are so out of their league when it comes to basic issues of morality that they have to just write and write and write about it, to the exclusion of all else, until an actual game occurs and suddenly they're forced, probably much to their chagrin, to actually cover sports. Maybe they were all forced to become sports writers when their ambition to become moral philosophers didn't pan out, since they're kind of retarded when it comes to morality.

Over at Da Bears Blog, they've apparently decided they want to have a debate about whether or not fans should be upset by the Briggs thing, inspired by this piece of garbage hacked out by Mike Downey at the Tribune. Downey is disappointed in the hypothetical football fans he (granted, rightly) assumes won't be all apoplectic about Lance Briggs's accident. Even better, he wrote the piece just about as soon as it was possible for him to have heard about it, which means he didn't even bother wondering what had actually happened before he got all disgusted at all the other people who won't get pissed about it.

But, seriously, come the fuck on Chicago Tribune. There's a reason most people aren't that upset about what happened: it's not really that big of a deal.

Here's a simple metric for trying to figure out if you should be really upset about something a famous sports person does: If your friend did the exact same thing, would you consider no longer being friends with him or her? It's not a perfect metric or anything, but it's way better than whatever random technique Mike Downey apparently uses when trying to judge human actions.

So, let's see, imagine your friend happened to have the kind of money that makes a $500,000 sports car practically disposable, and one night he went out to a few nightclubs and had a few drinks, not enough to get drunk or anything but enough that it would be smarter for him to give someone else his keys, and then he hopped in his new pimp-ass car, a car that is notoriously difficult to handle until you're used to it, and while he was driving it he lost control of the car and crashed it into a light pole. Then he panicked and ran away from the scene of the accident. He called the police to report the car stolen, but then called them back ten minutes later to take responsibility for the crash. Let's even imagine, worst case scenario, and remember this is a guy who's never been in any trouble with the law before, who you've never seen get out of hand at parties, let's imagine that he maybe was legally above the .08 blood alcohol level--again, not especially drunk or anything, but still it was dumb for him to be behind the wheel. Also, maybe, since he was in a brand new Lamborghini on an empty freeway at three in the morning, he was speeding. Say your friend did all that. What would you do? If it were me, I'd call that friend a dumbass. Maybe I'd pop him on the back of the head. I'd give him shit about it. I'd make sure he realized it was a really stupid thing that he'd done. I'd be really glad he wasn't hurt or killed. I'd say, "That sucks," about him getting charged with the various misdemeanors involved in his actions, and about his car, "but you deserved it." But, come on, really, I would not think all that much less of him as a person. I would not suddenly think that he should probably lose his job. I would not argue to all of our other friends that we should never talk to that guy any more, that he's suddenly revealed himself to be an evil moron who will only drag us down. I mean, realistically worst case scenario, if I imagine his accident had ended up with another person being killed, I'd feel absolutely terrible for the family of the killed person, I'd feel bad for my friend and I'd think he deserved everything the law was going to do to him, but I'd probably still keep being friends with him. I'd probably even argue for leniency toward him whenever and wherever I could. People sometimes do stupid things. Sometimes even the best people do stupid things. Sometimes those stupid things have much more serious consequences than others.

If, however, my friend didn't learn anything from this. If, say, in a few months, my friend crashed another car, or got loaded and beat someone up, something like that. That would complicate things. If he continued stupid and bad behavior, say a bunch of incidents that each in isolation wasn't especially terrible, well, they could add up, and I'd probably stop hanging out with him at some point, or maybe I'd try to arrange some kind of intervention or something if I thought it might help.

Or lets say it turned out my friend had been running a secret dog-fighting ring, and he personally hung and electrocuted a bunch of dogs, and killed other dogs with his bare hands by slamming them into the pavement. Or lets say he killed a guy in a bar fight, then did everything he could to blame his friends, and never showed the slightest bit of remorse for having killed a guy. Well. He simply would not be my friend any more. Relationship ended.

Really. It's not all that hard. These situations aren't even as morally difficult as a Steven Spielberg movie, for crying out loud. But for whatever reason, Chicago sportswriters just can't figure them out.

Right now the Tribune has three different main columnists trying to tackle it, and what do we get? Rick Morrissey calls Lovie Smith an "enabler." I've already addressed Downey. And then there's David Haugh.

Oh, man. What a total fuck he is. Here's an excerpt:

"Briggs' admission that he first lied by reporting his car stolen suggested a premeditated response to the accident more than a panicked one. Besides committing a crime by doing so, falsely reporting a stolen vehicle implies Briggs considered the ramifications of being so forthcoming with authorities. A guy with nothing to fear or lose doesn't instinctively lie to police.

Fleeing a crash scene because of shock might be more believable if a whopper of a fib didn't follow that alibi. That disclosure put Briggs' episode back under the microscope for another day of scrutiny.

Aaugh! Haugh apparently lacks the basic human empathic ability to realistically imagine himself in the situation of another person. Since when does lying suggest a premeditated response more than a panicked one? Hasn't he ever been caught or caught another person by surprise in the middle of doing something possibly wrong? The first thing you do is lie! I mean, even the guy who wrote the Family Circus had that one figured out. Calling the police to report your car was stolen is exactly the type of thing you might do if you're panicking in that situation, and it shows not that you've thought through the consequences but rather the opposite, that you're not thinking about how when you report your car stolen the police will wonder where you were when it happened and it's probably going to be pretty easy to figure out that it wasn't actually stolen. Briggs's actions indicated he didn't want to get in trouble for what he'd just done. How the hell could that confuse you?!

Actually, it's hard to tell what the fuck Haugh is even trying to get at here. He seems to be trying to argue that there is something much more nefarious going on, but what exactly he thinks it could be isn't clear. "A guy with nothing to fear and nothing to lose doesn't instinctively lie to police." Yeah, but a wealthy black man who's just crashed his car all by himself with nothing else to fear and nothing else to lose just might make the kind of dumb decision to lie to the police, thinking momentarily that by doing so he might avoid getting in trouble. There is absolutely nothing at all surprising that Lance Briggs might have behaved the way he says he did in this situation.

No comments: