Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cedric Maxwell's Sexist Comments about NBA Referee Violet Palmer

Cedric Maxwell--the MVP of the 1981 NBA finals and whose number #31 the Boston Celtics recently retired--has been the color analyst for radio broadcasts of Celtics games since 1995. His thoughtfulness and humor have made him popular among Celtics fans, particularly in recent years as his performance has excelled.

But as reported by Dave Adams of Universal Hub, Maxwell has found himself in controversy due to recent on-air comments about NBA referee Violet Palmer (hat tip to Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog):
During the first quarter of tonight's radio broadcast of the Celtics game against the Houston Rockets,one of the Celtics players managed to fake out the referee to get a call to go his way. The referee who made this call was Violet Palmer, who happens to be a woman. Cedric Maxwell, the analyst / sidekick on the Celtics broadcast team, proclaimed "Get back in the kitchen!" when she made the call. Max's partner, Sean Grande, tried to throw him a lifeline by pointing out that they had both been previously impressed by Palmer's officiating, but Max continued "Get back in the kitchen and fix me some bacon and eggs!"
Somewhat surprisingly, at least from my vantage point, neither the Celtics nor WEEI, which broadcasts Celtics games, will take any disciplinary action against Maxwell. Instead, he has agreed to apologize on-air. Just compare that "sanction" with the firing of former Fox baseball announcer Steve Lyons for, at worst, ambiguously negative comments about Latinos. I recognize that Lyons' had a bigger and national audience, that he had made other curious remarks in the past, and that Fox may have employed a stricter on-air policy than WEEI, but I still find the outcomes odd. Maxwell made an unquestionably sexist remark--should it really be tolerated without sanction? Is no suspension or even reprimand in order?

Along those lines, think about what Violet Palmer must feel whenever she makes a controversial call. As the only female referee in the NBA (and there are no female refs/umps in the NFL, NHL, or MLB), her gender--which obviously has no bearing on her talent--probably enters the minds of many of those who don't like the call, and some of those persons, apparently like Cedric Maxwell and his "fix me some bacon and eggs" line, occasionally might let that bias slip. God only knows what fans yell at her when they don't like her.

And no doubt, Violet Palmer's gender makes her job harder than it would otherwise be. A favorite target of Bill Simmons and other basketball writers, Palmer is routinely criticized for not being very good at her job. For instance, Simmons has written of Palmer:
Nobody has ever been worse at their job, in any vocation – not even the people who work at Home Depot selling Christmas trees. When Violet started officiating a few years ago, she was so incompetent, players and coaches actually avoided arguing with her – whenever she screwed up, they would always glance around helplessly, the same way you would if your puppy dropped a deuce on the living room carpet.
I'm not sure if that criticism is true, but assuming for a moment that it is, might Stanford social psychologist Claude Steele's research on stereotype threat be relevant? Stereotype threat reflects the behavioral effects that result from an individual's belief and fear that his or her actions will confirm a negative stereotype of a group to which he or she belongs. As I discuss in a work-in-progress on the Wonderlic Test, stereotype threat typically manifests in anxiety, which can impair performance and trigger a self-fulfilling prophecy: because of stress related to one's group membership, one underperforms, thereby unintentionally corroborating the underlying group stereotype. Thus, the situational presence of stereotype threat, rather than the person's aptitude, skill, or talent, may generate the behavior that confirms the underlying stereotype. As I write:
[M]inority undergraduates tend to perform less well academically when they believe there are achievement gaps relative to race. In a recent study of undergraduates, African-American students performed worse than their white classmates when told that they are taking an exam that measures “their intelligence.” However, they performed equal to white students on the same exam when told that they are taking an “experimental” exam.
Whether or not stereotype threat exists with Violet Palmer, it's clear that she has an unusually tough job. Granted, I know that no one forced her to take this job; she undertook it knowing, at least on some level, what she would be getting into (although that doesn't justify those problems). Moreover, I genuinely applaud the NBA--and, yes, Commissioner David Stern, who I often criticize--for being the first and still only major pro sports league to employ a female referee. But I hope that the league and its teams do all they can to ensure that her gender not be used to marginalize her or to interfere with her work, otherwise it would seem that she is being set up to fail. With that in mind, should there really be no sanction for a radio announcer who, on-air, says of Violet Palmer that she should "get back in the kitchen"? Are we in the year 2007 or 1947?

Update: see Jeffrey Standen's vigorous and thoughtful defense of Maxwell.

American University Soccer Player's $10 Million Tort Case Against Former DC United Star

Yesterday, the Washington Post covered an interesting lawsuit filed by a former soccer player from American University against the MLS franchise D.C. United, its owners, and a former player, Bulgarian superstar Hristo Stoitchkov.

In 2003, the AU college team played the United in a scrimmage. According to the Post story:
The incident occured about 10 minutes into a scrimmage . . . during the [American University] Eagles' offseason and a few weeks before United's season opener. [The AU player] was preparing to take possession of the ball when Stoitchkov approached on the run and, in an apparent attempt to disrupt play, slammed his left foot into [the student's] right leg, which, according to the lawsuit, was planted on the field. Stoichkov, who according to the lawsuit, was angry that game officials did not disallow an AU goal moments before the tackle . . . -- was assessed a red card. Both coaches agreed to suspend the game. [The AU player] was removed by ambulance and, later that day, had a four-inch metal plate inserted in his leg.
Plaintiff now seeks $5 million in compensatory and $5 million in punitive damages. Stoichkov, now the Bulgarian national coach, was quoted by the Post's Soccer Insider blog:
"I'll leave that to my lawyers but as far as I know this case is closed. I don't care what the press say. I am concentrating on my work in Bulgaria and the national football team."
Duke Sports Law expert Paul Haagen was interviewed for the story, and offered this observation. He offered this on-point observation:
"What this will turn on is expectations -- the expectations of the participants, what the game was about and whether it went beyond those level of expectations . . . . Did the incident go beyond the normal course of the game?"
One wonders what expectations typically are for a scrimmage, as opposed to a competitive game. A player might expect and therefore assume risks in a competitive game that would not be a part of scrimmage play. I'll also be interested to see whether a court treats the AU player according to the less-plaintiff-friendly standard typically applied to professionals (in that he was playing against a pro team), or the more plaintiff-friendly standard that typically applies in amateur or recreational sports injury cases.

In any event, this seems like an odd case to expect punitive damages, since on the part of team and its investors there is certainly no "wanton and wilful" misconduct. As to Stoitchkov, it will depend on how aggravated his conduct is found to be.

HT to UT Law 3L Justin Stone for pointing me to the story.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Is Potato Sack Racing a "Contact Sport"?

As long-time readers of this blog know, one of my enduring sports law interests in the tort liability of participants in athletic events to one another (see posts on the subject here, here, and here). In many states, a "contact sports exception" applies to personal injury cases between co-participants in sports deemed to "inherently" involve contact. Co-participants can only recover from one another where the offender committed a "reckless" act, since the risk of negligence is viewed as an assumed risk of contact sports.

A key question that arises in cases implicating this legal rule is the line between contact and non-contact sports.

Now, an Ohio appellate court has sent a case back down involving an injury to a participant in a potato-sack race, ruling that such racing is not a contact sports. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer story on the case:
"Intentional tackling is not a customary part of the sport or activity of sack racing," said the appellate decision. "Sack racing is not a contact sport."

A new trial will decide if Martin LaMalfa, 43, of Concord Township, was negligent when he tackled cousin Anthony Aquila, 53, of Wickiffe, during the sack race Aug. 17, 2003, at a LaMalfa family reunion at the Outdoor YMCA in Perry Township.

"It is clear from the record that roughhousing between two grown men was done in a spirit of childlike competition between cousins which unfortunately due to their respective ages and physical limitations may negligently have caused some serious damage," the appellate court said in its opinion.
Having participated in just a few such races over the years, I'm not qualified to render an opinion on the level of contact typically expected in this activity. At least according to e-how, however, contact isn't a part of the rules of potato-sack racing.

Politics, Expression, and Basketball Arenas

True Hoop (which, having asked Mike to guest-post, must be regarded as the official non-law basketball blog of the sports-law world) reports on a story from The Stranger (which I gather is Seattle's weekly independent newspaper):

The campaign finance records I’ve reviewed show that Sonics/Storm co-owner Tom Ward has contributed $475,000 to Gary L. Bauer’s Americans United to Preserve Marriage

And another Sonics/Storm co-owner, Aubrey McClendon, contributed $625,000.

During the last two election cycles, Americans United distributed $ 1.3 million, of which Ward and McClendon contributed $ 1.1 million. The group opposes same-sex marriage, which it insists "cheapens" the institution.

Neither Ward nor McClendon is the managing partner within the ownership group; that is Clayton Bennett, who apparently has not made such contributions. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer picked up the story here.

This new controversy raises a number of interesting issues.

First, there is the connection to Tim Hardaway's comments and the NBA's reaction to them. Should the league take similar action against these Sonics owners? As a private entity, the league could sanction anyone involved with it, without running afoul of the First Amendment. But I would be uncomfortable if the league began controlling what groups and ideas players, owners, and other league members can promote outside of their basketball roles. And Hardaway was dismissed from performing an official function in which he was speaking and acting on the NBA's behalf. Certainly the league has greater control over that than over what an active player says apart from his basketball functions.

But this leads to a second issue. If leagues are going to police what players, owners, and others say, do they need to be consistent? Is what Hardaway said that much worse than what Ward and McClendon are (through their financial support) advocating, such that you can punish Hardaway but not Ward and McClendon? Substantively, there is no difference between saying "I hate gay people" and "I want the law to deny gay people the same basic rights that I (and others like me) have." The former reflects an angrier, more emotional idea than the former. But both are anti-gay-rights points of view. In my view, both are fully protected expression and neither should be the basis for league-imposed punishment. But we too often get caught up in the way things are said, punishing an offensive way of saying something, while ignoring statements that express ideas that are just as troubling when they are stated in a softer way. I am not sure you can justify punishing one and not the other (although again, my preference is that you punish neither).

Third is the issue of how the controversy will affect the Sonics' efforts to secure $ 300 million in state and local funding for a new arena. Can legislators take into account the politics of some of the owners in deciding whether to approve this funding? On one hand, an instinctive notion is that government should not decide whether to award benefits on how a recipient exercises his First Amendment rights. Although doing so in this context would not, strictly speaking, violate any one's First Amendment rights, there is something troubling about public officials voting some way because of the recipient's unrelated political viewpoints.

On the other hand, they may not be so unrelated. The Sonics are asking for (nee, demanding) a substantial amount of public funds towards an arena that the team insists is essential for the team to survive and thrive financially. It also argues that building the arena (and thus keeping the team in Seattle, rather than relocating to Oklahoma City) brings economic, social, and cultural benefits to the community (putting to one side the overwhelming consensus among economists that no economic benefits exist). But the arena also benefits the Sonics owners, Ward and McClendon among them--they have to spend $ 300 million less of their own money to gain this necessary asset; plus the arena almost certainly comes with a highly favorable lease that allows the team (i.e., the owners) to keep much of the arena-derived revenue (naming rights, seat licenses, parking, concessions, etc.).

Now, could a conscientious state or local legislator decide not to vote for a project that puts more money in the hands of two individuals who likely will use some of that money to advocate public policy positions that are anathema to the great majority of her constituents? I think the answer is yes.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Should Dale, Jr. leave DEI?

The answer to that question is absolutely yes for chrissakes. DEI is holding Dale back, and they need Jr. more than Jr. needs them. Without some kind of ownership stake, Dale should walk. Richard Childress should snatch up Mr. Earnhardt and pull the "3" out of retirement.

Sunday's race shows there are some big problems at DEI. Two blown engines is not good. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but I've always believed that Dale, Jr. was a good racer without a quality car. He should have had a championship by now, but it has eluded him.

I don't know where Dale will go when this season ends, but it behooves him to explore his options.

In other NASCAR bloviating, Mark Martin should seriously consider making a full run this season for the Cup. I don't know who he's kidding, but that old man can still race. He should make another effort to win it all.

New Sports Law Scholarship

New this week:
Michael J. Jurek, Note, Janitor or savior: the role of Congress in professional boxing reform, 67 OHIO STATE LAW JOURNAL 1187 (2006)

Shane Mecham, The house that consensus built: consensus building in stadium construction, 38 URBAN LAWYER 1087 (2006)

Sunday, February 25, 2007


The Libertarian Party

I have given a lot of thought to poliical involvement, and my position has "evolved" which is a political euphemism for flip-flopping. Basically, what is a libertarian to do?

The Libertarian Party is the nation's largest third party. Yet, it has no real chance of ever winning an election beyond dog catcher. It claims to be the party of principle, but the result is that LPers spend a lot of time arguing amongst themselves concerning their platform. Recently, the LP simplified its platform which resulted in a lot of claims of selling out. Seriously, who needs this shit?

The LP is a joke. The irony is that if these folks were to abandon this party and join with others in one of the major parties their impact would be dramatic. The reality is that the Libertarian Party has actually served to advance statism by marginalizing the opponents of tyranny. You can call this "principle" and "integrity," but I call it shitheadedness. I'm not satisfied with a fantasy of libertopia. I want to realize it in my lifetime.

Much of my change of mind has come about because of the recent death of Milton Friedman and the tributes to him. I did not agree with all of Friedman's positions, but I have to admit that he was very influential in advancing liberty. The reason he was so influential is because he did not marginalize himself by being an LPer. He was a philosophical libertarian but a registered Republican. I intend to do the same.

Rep. Ron Paul also gives me a lot to hope for as he has retained his principles while still being a Republican. His presidential campaign is a good thing. I don't know how far he will get, but I am hoping he can spur debate on issues that matter to me.

The Republican Party is the lesser of two evils, and that is because no matter what they believe in tax cuts which are always good. I can never be a Democrat. Democrats are fundamentally opposed to cutting taxes and will never warrant the vote of a libertarian. NEVER.

My goal is to retain my principles while becoming as involved in the process as I possibly can. Critics will say that this can't be done, but I beg to differ. Ron Paul shows that you can do both.

The LP is a party of isolation. It was a tactical mistake by the lovers of liberty. As such, libertarians now hold less influence than homosexuals, fundamentalists, and tree huggers. Yet, we are considered the "fringe."

I think the best way to go for me and other libertarians is to become members of the Republican Liberty Caucus, support candidates that represent freedom, and vote in primaries and general elections. In addition, I think libertarians can form alliances with other groups such as the ACLU or the NRA on areas of common interest. I think if all libertarians, objectivists, etc. did this, then you would see far less government.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. Kevin Harvick edged out Mark Martin to win the Daytona 500. Despite the loss, I think Martin would be an idiot to leave racing. I think the old man has a lot left in him.

2. The IDIOT OF THE WEEK award has to go to Britney Spears. I don't think she was stupid to shave her head or get those tats, but she surely has shit for brains to destroy her life with drugs and alcohol with the likes of the Skank Pack--Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, and Lindsay Lohan. Britney needs to sober up, clean up, hire a personal trainer, and get back to working. In short, she needs to quit being a stupid bitch.

In a sidenote, K-Fed is looking like the responsible one. Britney should take him back. I never thought I would write that, but there it is.

3. Dick Cheney is rattling the sword against Iran. The only problem is that the tip of that sword was broken off in the Iraq clusterfuck. The vice president would be advised to just shut his mouth for the time being.

4. A Wal-Mart in Irmo may not be built because there's some sort of rare species of weevil found there. I shit you not. I read it in this week's Free Times. Progress halted for the sake of a bug.

5. YouTube has been hit by a bunch of copyright bullshit, so some of the vids on the blog here may be inoperable. I apologize, but there's nothing I can do about it. Blame Viacom.

PABLO PICASSO, The Old Guitar Player

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chad Cordero: Wins Arbitration But Losses Autonomy?

Attorney Bryan Stroh (a former law school classmate whose practice includes sports law and who was also a pretty darn good baseball player at Princeton), passes along this link from on Washington Nationals' closer Chad Cordero being pressured by his agent and the MLBPA into turning down a two-year guaranteed deal (said to be worth between $7 million and $8 million) from the Nationals. According to Cordero, both the MLBPA and his agent, Larry Reynolds, thought he would win his arbitration case, and that he would be making a big mistake by signing the two-year offer. They appear correct, as Cordero won his case, securing a $4.15 million contract for 2007; if the 24-year-old Cordero--one of the best young closers in baseball--has another terrific season, he would be poised to make even more in 2008.

But even though he won his arbitration case, Cordero doesn't feel good about being pressured into not signing the two-year contract offer:
"I don't know why I didn't sign [the two-year deal]," Cordero said. "I wanted to. The Players Association thought I had a good case and they wanted see how it turned out. Even if I lost my arbitration case, I wasn't going to lose. It's still a lot of money. It's still more money than I ever would have thought [I'd make]."
Assuming this media report of Cordero's feelings is accurate, what does it say about the role of the agent and the players' association? I understand that the players' association has a collective interest in trying to maximize salary averages for each position, and that Cordero's contract affects future contracts of other closers, but who is looking out for Cordero? He is, after-all, a member of the MLBPA; should he be dissuaded from his instinct, or was the MLBPA correct in taking a more guiding approach?

And what about his agent? On one hand, he probably gave his client advice that will enable him to make more money--perhaps a lot more money--but on the other hand, his client doesn't seem to feel too good about what happened. Rick has written extensively on this topic (e.g., his post Players Union Needs to Fix the Agent Business and law review article Solving Problems in the Player Representation Business: Unions Should be the Exclusive Representatives of the Players), and I would be interested in hearing his thoughts.

This topic also brings to mind that many players perceive significant value in non-monetary terms, such as getting to play in a particular part of the country or with a certain group of teammates. Sometimes players are moved by those non-monetary terms in ways that they don't fully appreciate (a subject which I examine in my article: It's Not About the Money: The Role of Preferences, Cognitive Biases, and Heuristics Among Professional Athletes, 71 Brooklyn Law Review 1459 (2006)), but sometimes they genuinely prefer to not go through a contentious salary arbitration process. Along those lines, even though we live in an American culture of "every last dollar" mattering, clearly not every American embraces that creed. And maybe Chad Cordero is one such dissenter.

Could a Gay NBA Player Sue for Hostile Work Environment?

A couple of days ago, Henry Abbot of True Hoop asked me to assume, for the sake of argument, that a handful of NBA players were gay and that many NBA players were anti-gay, and then examine whether the NBA, its teams, and/or executives could be vulnerable to a hostile work environment lawsuit. I opined that such a claim would be hard to prove based on what we know, and I explain why on True Hoop.

Also be sure to check out Howard's related posts on Sports Law Blog from earlier this week (2/21; 2/17).

Update on The Relevance of Title VII and Personal Jurisdiction: My good friend Paul Secunda, who blogs on Workplace Prof Blog and who is a labor and employment law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, e-mails me an important point that makes this type of claim even less likely: since sexual orientation is not a prohibited classification under Title VII, a gay NBA player bringing such a claim would very likely have to be employed by a team that plays its home games in one of the states or municipalities where sexual orientation discrimination is recognized--and since most states and municipalities do not recognize it, many NBA players could not bring a claim. But I asked Paul whether a player who does not play for such a team could make a personal jurisdiction argument based on the premise that all NBA teams--which are all part of joint venture called the NBA--avail themselves of the forums they travel to by playing games there, meaning a team traveling to the state of Washington (where sexual orientation is recognized) to play the Supersonics avails itself of that forum, but he does not believe that such an argument would work:
I think the answer would be the same as when you have a business traveler who spend much of the time on the road. You can engage in harassment or discrimination on the road, but the law that would apply to such situations is where the employer is located.
Thanks to Paul for this comment.

Equal Pay at Wimbledon: But Should Women Make More Than Men?

Paul Secunda over at Workplace Prof Blog discusses the world's most prestigious tennis tournament, Wimbledon, bowing to public pressure and agreeing to pay women players as much as the men. Wimbledon had been the last of the four Grand Slam Tournaments to pay men and women players unequally. Last year, the men's winner pocketed $1,170,000 while the women's winner received $1,127,000.

Gary Clark over at Sports Frog goes a step further and writes that women's tennis should have more lucrative prizes than men's since women's tennis--which still has volleys and long rallies--has become much more enjoyable to watch than men's. Many tennis observers agree that the men's game has become boring to watch with too many serves impossible to return; to some, the days of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, and many others gracefully battling it out seem like a completely different sport than today's extreme power game.

DVD-Superman Returns

This movie blows. Kevin Spacey is great as Lex Luthor, but he was underutilized. I got this one for the kids, and the kids could care less about this one.

The most interesting superhero flicks to come out in the last few years would have to be the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises. But if I had to put my money on the best superhero flick ever, it would be Christian Bale in Batman Begins.

In Superman Returns, Superman comes back from sabbatical at the dead world of Krypton. That journey would have made a great superhero flick. But it was only mnetioned. Anyway. . .

Superman returns to earth to see that Lois has married, had a kid which is Superman's, and still smokes cigarettes. Lois' new guy is actually a really swell guy. He's just like Superman except without the superpowers.

Ultimately, Superman is just boring as a hero. Virtual omnipotence is just two dimensional. The most interesting parts of the movie are when Superman is getting his ass kicked. Personally, I'd like to put on some kryptonite boxing gloves and knock the shit out of the fucker. But that's just me.

Don't waste your time watching this one.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

One Step Forward - Two Steps Back

In a blog post three weeks ago, I asked the question whether progress on the minority NFL head coach hiring front had been realized. Now three weeks later, the answer to that question appears to be “probably not.” With the hiring of Norv Turner a few days ago by the San Diego Chargers, and the recent hiring of Wade Phillips by the Dallas Cowboys, we have two white coach retreads, who are both two time losers. Both Phillips and Turner have been hired as head coaches again after literally failing in previous stints as head coaches. Turner has posted a career won-loss record of 58 wins and 82 losses in head coaching stints with the Washington D.C. professional football club and the Oakland Raiders (overseeing winning seasons in only three of nine seasons as head coach). Phillips has posted a pedestrian career won-loss record of 48 wins and 39 losses in head coaching stints with the Buffalo Bills and the Denver Broncos (as well as an interim stretch with the Atlanta Falcons). That each man has been hired as a head coach once again, for a third time, is truly confounding.

Both the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys followed the Rooney Rule, described in this space several weeks ago. Dallas interviewed at least three minority candidates, while the Chargers interviewed at least two. Mike Singletary and Ron Rivera, in fact, have been interviewed by a number of NFL franchises in the past two years, but have yet to land a top job. Why are twice fired, often times losing white coaches being recycled into virtual “winning” situations while prolific minority assistant coaches are being passed over (many would agree that the San Diego job is the best one in the NFL, while the Dallas job has the look of a sure winner)?

The hiring of Mike Tomlin by the Pittsburgh Steelers, with the Steelers one year removed from a Super Bowl title, appears to be one of the only times an African American head coach has been hired to coach a team poised to win, rather than being hired to resurrect a moribund franchise (see Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, Romeo Crennel in Cleveland, Dennis Green in Arizona, Lovie Smith in Chicago, etc.). While Dennis Green, Ray Rhodes and Tony Dungy have been recycled (hired a second time) after being fired previously, both Green and Dungy had winning and exemplary records with the teams by which they were fired (Rhodes was 29-34-1 with the Eagles). It strains reality to imagine that an African American head coach with a 58-82 won loss record (exactly the same as Norv Turner) would ever be hired again as a head coach in the National Football League.

Still, the NFL clubs are owned by wealthy white males. They will continue to hire retread candidates and pray that one will turn into the “recycled” Bill Belichick who was run out of town after mostly failing for several seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Will the Rooney Rule be enough to break this outdated reality?

Sport and the Meaning of Homosexuality

A commenter with the handle ChapelHeel makes an interesting point to the post about the reactions to John Amechi coming out. ChapelHeel tries to distinguish Tim Hardaway's anti-homosexual comments from Shavlik Randolph's statement that he was OK as long as Amechi (or anyone else) does not "bring your gayness of me."

ChapelHeel says, in part, as follows:

There are lots of people in America who are fine with gay people living a gay lifestyle, but do not want to be personally involved. Call it a middle ground of acceptance.

Let's assume Randolph is Jewish (based on his first name), and let's also assume he is heterosexual. Now suppose he said he was fine with Christians "as long as you don't bring you Christianity on me." Would we be upset? I doubt it.

So why do we get upset if we substitute "gayness" for Christianity when Randolph is heterosexual? Because it is the hot topic of the day.

I don't find his comment unenlightened. It is not as accepting as it could be, but it isn't non-acceptance. It is non-participation; and that's different.

This raises important issues about sexual orientation and the significance of having gay and straight professional athletes co-exist. And it also gets into some issues about the role of religion and sports, something I have been thinking about a great deal.

In the original post, I criticized Randolph's comment as incoherent because I really do not know what he meant by "bring your gayness on me." What is he talking about? As for suggesting it was unenlightened: I used that word not because Randolph's comment was antipathetic towards homosexuals; I was not using it in the political sense of intolerant towards gay people. In fact, if more people took the attitude of "gay people can do what they want and it does not affect me," we would all be better off.

But I think Randolph's statement is unenlightened in a different sense: Any meaning we can ascribe to it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of sexuality and sexual orientation. As I see it, he could have meant any of three things.

Possibility # 1: Do not make me gay by being around me--as if it were catching. I think most of us can agree that sexual orientation is not akin to a communicable disease that can be passed around the locker room--that being around someone who is gay can "make you gay."

Possibility # 2: Do not try to make me gay by converting me to your homosexual lifestyle. This one gets a bit closer to ChapelHeel's religion comparison. The problem is that sexual orientation is not a choice; it is a genetically hardwired predisposition as to who or what one is sexually attracted. So the idea that Amechi might "convert" Randolph misunderstands this fact about sexual orientation. True, this point is subject to some scientific, social, and religious controversy about the ability to "cure" homosexuality. And the anti-rights movement speaks of a homosexual agenda involving "recruiting" of new members, especially children. But I think the weight of science is on my side on this one.

Possibility # 3: Do not hit on me; I am not gay and am not interested in having sex with you so don't approach me. I call this the "Get Over Yourself" Problem: Do not assume that, just because the man standing next to you is gay, he wants to have sex with you; you aren't that good-looking. Just like we would not (or at least should not) assume that the heterosexual woman standing next to us wants to have sex. (Although the rules of sexual attraction are quite different with professional athletes, but that was the subject of Michael's post). If this is what Randolph meant, it is a bit presumptuous--and again reflects a misunderstanding of sexual orientation and what it means to be attracted to particular people.

Any of these three meanings is troubling in my view, for what it shows about Randolph's misunderstanding of homosexuality and sexual orientation.

But I do find this part of the issue interesting. While all the controversy has surrounded Hardaway's openly antipathetic comments, little attention has been paid to Randolph. But in many ways the worldview reflected in Randolph's comments is more troubling than the worldview reflected in Hardaway's. Randolph presents ideas that are fundamentally wrong about sexuality and sexual orientation, ideas that, if widely accepted, hold back the ability of openly gay athletes to exist and function in professional sport. But the ideas are presented in such benign, quasi-tolerant terms ("As long as I don't have to be involved, I'm OK with you doing what you want") that the danger of the underlying ideas gets buried. He is seen as being "accepting," as opposed to troublingly uninformed. At some level, rabid bigotry ("I hate gays") is easier to confront and less harmful.

Also, I take issue with ChapelHeel's suggestion that if a Jewish athlete (and my quick check says Randolph is not Jewish. And trust me: We are so starved for Jewish sports stars that we keep a very close watch on these things) requested that a Christian teammate "not bring his Christianity on me" we would not be upset. Actually, there would be an uproar from the Christian Right and the people on Fox News like you would not believe. The controversy over prayer at football games is precisely because non-Christian athletes and fans seek to avoid the bringing of Christianity on them--how is that working out? This is a separate and intriguing subject that I would like to discuss more in the future.

Finally, a personal note to ChapelHeel. Judging by the handle, I am guessing you are a UNC fan. I commend the fact that you declined to trash, and in fact defended well, a Dukie. That is enlightened.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

She's Megalicious!

What more can I say - Drop dead gorgeous gal!

Tuesday Sports Law Panel at Western Michigan University

On Tuesday, February 27 (next Tuesday), Rick, Bob McCormick (MSU Law) and I will be doing a panel on Sports Law for the undergraduate pre-law society at Western Michigan University. The event will be from 6:30-7:30 in Bernhard Center, Room 209 (PLEASE NOTE: UPDATED LOCATION), and we are planning to address the general topic of amateruism, pay, and unionization in college sports. Anyone in the Kalamazoo neighborhood, please feel free to attend since the event is open to the public.

Dice-K, Beer, and the Feds

A follow-up to Michael's post about Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka taking a sip of beer in a Japanese-language television ad running only in Japan. Michael focused more on the ethics of the ad and of the close ties between professional sports and alcohol. He suggests (as I believe to be the case) the the prohibition on depicting someone drinking alcohol on television is a voluntary network regulation, not a requirement from the FCC or the FTC or other federal regulatory agency.

Well, maybe not . . .

Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy discusses here the fact that the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ("ATTB") might be contemplating future punitive action against Dice-K because the ad violates its regulations prohibiting ads depicting athletes consuming (or about to consume) alcohol prior to or during competition or suggesting that drinking alcohol enhances health or athletic prowess.

Ilya quite rightly slams this as "inane overregulation." Putting to one side any First Amendment concerns (either under current doctrine or what the doctrine ought to be): The ad is not running in the United States or in a language that most people in the United States speak or understand. The federal government, not content with telling U.S. citizens what images they can see, now want to tell the people of Japan what images they can see.

Prediction: Any penalty imposed (and it remains a Big IF whether the ATTB will actually do anything) will be reversed because such extra-territorial application of U.S. law is disfavored.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sports and the Rule of Law

At DorfOnLaw, there is an interesting post-and-comment exchange, started by Neil Buchanan, on how rules are applied in various sports. Neil's focus is the way the NBA openly and even proudly applies rules differently for superstar players. No other sport does this, at least not as openly. For example, I feel pretty certain that the strike zone is different for certain batters or certain pitchers, but MLB strongly denies this.

Interesting stuff. And it suggests that Chief Justice Roberts's argument that a judge should be nothing more than an umpire, perfectly clear and objective, applying clear rules precisely as written, is unworkable. Because, in reality, that is not what an umpire does.

Sports Law Prof to be New Baltimore Law Dean

Following on the news that Tulane's Gary Roberts will be assuming the deanship at IUPUI this summer, I pass on the bittersweet news that my colleague, and former UT Law dean Phil Closius, has been appointed the next dean at the University of Baltimore Law School. Phil was a great dean (after all, he hired me), and a great colleague, and Baltimore is lucky to get him. Baltimore is a school with a strong sports law history: former professor William Weston (former associate dean at Florida Coastal and now associate dean of Concord) founded the Association for Representatives of Athletes and Professor Dionne Koller teaches sports law there now. Phil is a former registered NFL player agent, officer of the AALS Section on Law and Sports, and has written a number of significant scholarly works on sports law (among other topics), including:
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Fan Scorned: State Regulation of Sports Agents, 31 UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO LAW REVIEW 511 (1999)

Involuntary Nonservitude: The Current Judicial Enforcement of Employee Covenants Not to Compete--A Proposal for Reform, 57 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW 531 (1984) (with Henry M. Schaffer)

Not at the Behest of Nonlabor Groups: A Revised Prognosis for a Maturing Sports Industry, 24 BOSTON COLLEGE LAW REVIEW 341 (1983)
Congrats to Phil & to Baltimore!

I Want to Be Like Mike, Except in Bankruptcy Court

Last week, the U.S. Bankruptcy court overseeing the bankruptcy of Worldcom, Inc., dealt a blow to Michael Jordan in his effort to collect on unpaid endorsement fees, concluding that Jordan had failed to take mitigation efforts after Worldcom went under. See In re Worldcom, Inc., 2007 WL 446735 (Bkrtcy. S.D.N.Y., Feb 13, 2007).

Jordan had signed on as spokesman for MCI, then Worldcom, endorsing products like the pictured 10-minute phone card:
In addition to a $5 million signing bonus, the Agreement provided an annual base compensation of $2 million for Jordan. . . . The Agreement provided that Jordan was to make himself available for four days, not to exceed four hours per day, during each contract year to produce television commercials and print advertising and for promotional appearances. The parties agreed that the advertising and promotional materials would be submitted to Jordan for his approval, which could not be unreasonably withheld, fourteen days prior to their release to the general public. From 1995 to 2000, Jordan appeared in several television commercials and a large number of print ads for MCI.
After Worldcom filed for bankruptcy in 2002, Jordan eventually sought payments of "$8 million--seeking $2 million for each of the payments that were due in June of 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005."

The case itself turns on a number of bankruptcy law issues, such as whether Jordan was an employee or an independent contractor (the court ruled the latter) or whether Jordan had no obligation to mitigate his damages as a "lost volume seller."

The interesting part of the opinion is the court's discussion of Jordan's failure to mitigate his damages by seeking additional endorsements to cover the period after Worldcom went under. According to the court,
Jordan's agent, David Falk . . . , testified that "there might have been twenty more companies that in theory might have wanted to sign him" but that Jordan and his representatives wanted to avoid diluting his image.
Jordan's financial and business manager, Curtis Polk, admitted that
Jordan did not return to the endorsement marketplace to try and replace the revenue he was to be paid under the Agreement. . . . Polk explained that Jordan did not wish to expand his "pitchman efforts with new relationships" because of his primary goal of becoming the owner of an NBA team.
Jordan argued that his pursuit of NBA ownership relieved him of an obligation to mitigate damages by seeking other endorsement opportunities. The court didn't buy it:
In short, the argument that Jordan acted reasonably by focusing solely on his efforts to become an NBA team owner is a red herring. It may have been reasonable for Jordan to focus on becoming an NBA team owner in the scope of Jordan's overall future desires but that does not mean it can support a determination that he was relieved of his obligation to mitigate damages in response to MCI's rejection of the Agreement.

Furthermore, Jordan did not have to pursue any endorsement, such as one that would be beneath a celebrity of Jordan's stature, e .g., endorsing a product likely to be distasteful to Jordan or his fans. Jordan had the duty to take reasonable efforts to mitigate, such as by seeking another endorsement for an established, reputable company for compensation near to what he received from MCI. MCI has established that there is no genuine issue as to whether Jordan made reasonable efforts to do so. The Court finds that as a matter of law Jordan has failed to mitigate damages.

Impinging on Liberties

We have a long tradition in this country of impinging on the liberties of business owners in order to protect their workers from unreasonable safety risks.--The State newspaper in an editorial from Feb. 18's paper.

You can read the rest here.

This was almost certainly written by Brad Warthen, a notorious statist shithead.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Growing foals - Photos taken 19th February

TF Finn
TF Finn
TF Liath
TF Megan
TF Liath
TF Finn
TF Megan

Tom Brady to Father Child Out-Of-Wedlock: What Does It Mean?

Before I discuss today's news about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, I thought it would be helpful to first examine legal and sociological trends relating to the subject du jour: out-of-wedlock children.

Since the 1970s, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have soared, as about 37% of all American children are now born without married parents, in contrast to less than 10% in the 1960s and less 5% in the 1950s. There are many possible explanations for this increase, such as change in attitudes toward sexual behavior, less social pressure to get married, fewer legal constraints to divorce, and other theories carefully studied in George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen's "An Analysis of Out-Of-Wedlock Births in the United States" (Brookings Institution) and more ideologically, though nonetheless thoughtfully studied in Patrick F. Fagan's "Where is the Love?" (National Review).

Thankfully, every state has passed laws to ensure that these children enjoy the same legal protections as other children. For instance, Chapter 209c of the Massachusetts General Laws commands that "Children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the same rights and protections of the law as all other children." Moreover, the social stigma attached to a child born out-of-wedlock has dissipated considerably in modern times.

Celebrities and entertainers--perhaps only because we notice their lives--seem to display a particular penchant for having children out-of-wedlock. We all followed the birth of Suri Cruise to her (at the time) unwed parents, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Less famously, but still notably, award-winning actress Patricia Arquette of the show Medium has two children out-of-wedlock, as does actor/musician/freerider Kevin Federline. And of course, the nation is closely following the legal battles over which of three men could be the father to the late Anna Nicole Smith's baby girl, Danielynn.

Professional athletes and their out-of-wedlock children have also received public notice. Indeed, reports persist that many NBA players have fathered children out-of-wedlock. Consider, for instance, former NBA player Shawn Kemp, who is said to have fathered at least seven kids out-of-wedlock. Or consider Larry Bird, who was otherwise adored by Bostonians but received some critique for not having a relationship with a daughter he fathered out-of-wedlock. Similar stories have been said of MLB, NFL, and NHL players, some of whom have been sued for failing to pay child support.

So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that another pro athlete, this time Tom Brady, is going to father a child out-of-wedlock. The mother of his child is actress Bridget Moynahan, whom Brady broke up with two months ago, right before Christmas. Brady is now said to be dating supermodel Gisele Bundchen. He will certainly have the financial wherewithal to pay child-support, and unless there is question as to whether he is the father (and there is no indication of that), then this story will not attract legal attention.

But still, one might say that there is a glaring--if entirely predictable--disconnect between how the New England Patriots, and in particular their "brilliant" head coach Bill Belichick and "All-American" quarterback Tom Brady, are revered for their on-field exploits and how their personal lives do not seem nearly as laudable. We've talked about Belichick's alleged extra-marital affair with a New York Giants secretary, and now we see Brady set to father a child with a woman he recently dumped. That only brings to mind Charles Barkley's famous line, "I am not a role model." And it's a powerful reminder that no matter how graceful and inspiring they appear on-the-field, pro sports personalities are just regular folks, with the same vices, flaws, and other defects that all people have, expect, possibly, greater capacity and temptation to act on them.

The War on Drugs

Once upon a time, there was this guy named. . .oh, George will do.

George was a pothead. He loved nothing more than to smoke a bowlful of reefer of each day. The consequences of those choices were that he hurt the society at large by laughing a lot and consuming large quantities of Lay's potato chips. He did not even have to steal to support his drug habit since he was growing his own down in the basement with some special lights, a can of carbon dioxide, and some Miracle-Gro. However, he was known to steal some Dorito's from a friend's house, but the friend declined to press charges.

One day, George gets busted. The cops raid his place, find the weed, and lock his society menacing ass up in jail. While in jail, George rolls a couple of fatties from some weed he bought off some guards and smokes them.

What are we to make of this story? First of all, why is this shit illegal if no one is getting hurt? Secondly, how can this war be won when even the prisoners of that war are still able to use?

The War on Drugs is a fucking joke. It can't be won. If you can't keep drugs out of prison, you certainly won't keep them out of our very porous borders. In fact, a couple of drug sniffing dogs are certain to find some contraband on Capitol Hill. Even during Prohibition, the House of Representatives had a stash of liquor.

If you want to see the future of the drug war, look no further than Prohibition. That was a joke. Violent crime increased dramatically as gangsters took over the hooch business. Some people stopped drinking, but the overall toll to society was enough to make the people repeal this law. It was a failed experiment, but the US is still committed to repeating it.

So, why are dugs illegal anyway? Much of it comes from the fact that Mexcians, jazz musicians, and black people liked to use them. It was merely a clever way to harass these people that upstanding whitefolk didn't much like in the first place. Toss in hippies, young people, weird people, rock stars, etc., and there you have it. These are the "bad people," so it is justified to give them a hard time over their choice of drugs while these meat eating types sit back sipping on their scotch-and-sodas.

Drugs don't hurt anybody but the people using them. Drug opponents will make the argument that drugs lead to other crime such as theft. Well, that may be true. But I recommend locking those people up for theft instead. This seems way more just. We could take this logic and declare that food should be free because hunger drives people to commit crimes. But the reality is that such an action would be a greater crime than the theft by hungry people. The same is true with drugs.

This country spends billions investigating, arresting, prosecuting, incarcerating, and treating people for drugs in an effort that is almost a total failure. Yet, many of these addicts could hold down jobs and still function in society. Don't believe this? William Rehnquist did it for seven years while sitting on the SCOTUS. Rush Limbaugh did it. Ray Charles did it for 13 years, and he never missed a show or a recording session because of it.

Don't get me wrong. I hate drugs. I have never touched them and never will. I think drugs are stupid but not nearly as stupid as the efforts put forth to try to get people to stop using them. The best thing to do is let these people either kill themselves or straighten themselves out. This is a problem that will fix itself at a price we can all afford--FREE.

My position on drugs is simple. Legalize them. And when I mean legalize them, I don't mean decriminalize them and replace prisons with state funded treatment centers as many on the Left propose. Studies indicate that treatment, AA, and NA are no more effective than if people clean up on their own. About 5% of addicts voluntarily choose to quit each year. This is the same amount of success that AA has.

The other thing I oppose is regulating and taxing the hell out of drugs. This amounts to a softer form of Prohibition. People seem to think this is a good way to soak these addicts and feed off their addictions much like they do with alcohol and tobacco and gasoline. This is really theft on a grand scale to support the public's real addiction to government. Fuck these fools.

Finally, people will say that we need to have compassion on those poor addicts. I find this shit amazing. Thse fuckups voluntarily choose to destroy their lives with this shit. And many of them will voluntarily choose to straighten up. Tough love and soft love are both ineffective in changing these people, and why should we feel guilty about letting people reap the consequences of their own actions?

But none of this is about protecting society or the individual. The bottom line is that people simply want to control the lifestyle choices of other people. This shit applies to other victimless crimes such as smoking, prostitution, porn, gambling, driving automobiles that burn fossil fuels,etc. Such blatant tyranny can't be tolerated, so people dress it all up with some tenuous argument that these behaviors hurt others or that we have a duty to help these people and keep them from hurting themselves. As we see, almost anything can be the subject of legislation and incarceration. It is goddamn sickening to see people do this shit, and nothing makes me want to stomp the shit out of someone more than their inability to mind their own fucking business.

That's what it all boils down to. MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS. If some guy wants to fire up some hash in a pipe, leave that fucker alone and mind your own business. What is so hard about that? What is he doing to you to make your life so awful? And how do you justify running other people's lives when they aren't doing anything to you?

We are a nation of busybodies, and it is time that people got their noses out of our bedrooms, our living rooms, and off our dinner plates. If you want to lock up some people, lock up these idiots who can't mind their own fucking business. This probably means you.

Minority Rights

As a Southerner and a white hetero man, this is an issue I have to deal with. So, let me explain my issue as succinctly as I can.

When it comes to the government, I believe in equal treatment of all individuals. I decry discrimination against blacks, women, latinos, homosexuals, etc.

When it comes to individuals, I believe people have the right to be as racist and bigoted as much as they want including denying employment, goods, and services to people they hate. However, they do not have the right to deny other people their human rights which are life, liberty, and property.

How does this work out? Well, I oppose affirmative action, reparations for slavery, the notion of wrongful termination, etc. when it comes to private individuals. OTOH, I think the policy banning gays from the military was wrong as hell. I despise racial profiling, and I agree that many drivers are stopped for no other crime than driving while black. This shit is wrong.

I believe in the individual which as Ayn Rand pointed out is the smallest minority there is. If you protect individual rights, you automatically protect minority rights. And if this means the rights of some former Klansman to discriminate in his hiring practices, then so be it. I can believe in his right to be a racist and in his property rights without also believing in his bigotry.

Because minority groups have strayed from a firm foundation of individual rights, they are lead to hopeless contradictions, strife, and misery. This is why a million dollar ballplayer like Barry Bonds can still be mad as hell over his "mistreatment." I wish I was mistreated that way. And why does he feel that he is the victim of injustice? Because of racial collectivism. His individual rights are still much intact. He has suffered no injustice. Yet, he is a victim. I wish I was victimized like that.

The sad fact is that this mentality permeates much of Black America and has seeped into the women's rights movement, the gay rights movement, etc. And the unfortunate results are these groups are now the force of tyranny in this country with their speech codes, denial of property rights, etc. They believe that two wrongs make a right, but they don't.

Much of this stupidity is due to the work of activist organizations that exploit the anger and ignorance of their members. From Al Sharpton to Act Up to NOW, you have these people making a pretty good living and public career from the discontent of their "victims." Naturally, they have to stir up shit to keep their jobs, and this is what they do.

On the flip side, I'm not into the guilt thing. You're not going to make me feel guilty over shit that I simply did not do. My ancestors undoubtedly did some bad shit, but that was them. I didn't do it, and even if I did some of that shit today, that would still be between one individual and another.

The problem is that minorities have embraced Nietzsche's will to power bullshit. This is why you always hear the word "empowerment." They justify their own tyranny. But among minorities, this is a minority view. For instance, very few women contribute to and support NOW or actually give a shit about it. Unlike many feminists, there are women who want to be mothers, wives, and homemakers. This is not all of them, but if they choose this lifestyle, why should they be vilified? And why is it a bad thing?

The great threat to these organizations is contentment. So, they agitate. Liberty creates peace. By nature, people are largely indifferent to those things that are not immediately causing them harm. In fact, people will actually put up with lots and lots of shit. The income tax is a great example.

So, why is there so much minority strife? Because of these agitators. Now, I'm not singling them out. They are merely doing what the politicians do with their endless doomsday scenarios or what have you. In effect, these groups represent a shadow government lacking only in government power to force their agenda. But with a few contributions to the right people, they achieve the same end.

Tyranny is tyranny. Your victimhood doesn't give you the right to make victims of other people. But as it stands, this type of shit is what tears up the rest of the world in conflict. It actually makes people become racists or homophobes or misogynists when they normally wouldn't give a shit. If you keep labelling people this way and keep berating them, then they will embrace this shit simply because you have painted them in a corner. The result is a backlash. It is this cycle that fuels groups like al-Qaeda or the tribal conflicts in Africa. It is collectivism, and it is insidious.

I don't believe in color blindness, the brotherhood of man, or any of that other shit. This is just another collective. I believe in the individual, and this makes me surprisingly tolerant. I don't feel threatened by another person's differences. I accept these differences because they are what make him or her unique. I'm not on the power trip. I'm for the individual esp. those who are a bit odd.

In way of a conclusion, I need to go do some laundry now and go to the grocery store.

Beyond Left and Right

There is rarely a day that goes by where I am not labelled as a liberal or a conservative because of whatever opinion I am expressing at the moment. The reality is that I am neither, but people can't seem to think beyond their left/right categories.

I am a libertarian. The essentials of being a libertarian is that you believe in human rights which are only three--life, liberty, and property. This means we believe in social freedom as well as economic freedom. The Left does not believe in economic freedom while the Right does not believe in social freedom.

You really can't have social freedom without economic freedom and vice versa. For instance, conservatives will declare they believe in free trade but do everything they can to put restrictions on the trade of drugs, alcohol, pornography, prostitution, or whatever offends them. Liberals will argue that they believe in social freedom, but then they do everything they can to regulate what you eat, how you run your business, or what have you. The result is that the Left will defend your right to have anal sex or smoke reefer but will not let you buy a Big Mac or a pack of Marlboros because these benefit "corporate interests."

But ultimately the Left and the Right are joined at the hip because they want to force their values and choices upon you. They may differ on those values, but they have the same aim which is to control how you live, what you own, and what you buy. They don't believe in freedom at all except as a "necessary" evil in service to their ends. This is how you get the mixed economy thinking of both sides. Capitalism is to be tolerated but only to the extent that it produces something meaningful to each side. For the Right, this means the virtues of hard work and thrift. For the Left, this means a tax base which they can exploit and redistribute to the "more deserving."

I believe freedom is an end in itself and not as a means to some other end. Anything else is tyranny. This is why some self-proclaimed libertarians like Neal Boortz are really conservatives because they buy into the means to an end argument. I don't.

I believe a free society is the only just society there is or ever can be. I base this upon both principles outlined by the Enlightenment and by the abundant examples of history and economics. And my arguments are simple. Freedom will not lead to social chaos or social control by greedy capitalists. These are merely the specious arguments meant to intimidate the populace into turning over their freedom and money to tyrants who then proceed to enlarge their control and influence in what Nietzsche called the will to power. Power, religion, and morality all serve to feed the egoes of fiends. Their main tools of influence are fear and guilt. Now, you people might understand why I love being a debunking scoundrel.

The Left and the Right can't help but be self-contradicting. I merely point out the contradictions. Ultimately, these people represent the twin pillars of tyranny in our time--communism and fascism. They will deny this association because it would be bad PR to be associated with Hitler and Stalin. But philosophically they are no different. Like Stalin, the Left wants to control your economic freedom and eliminate the capitalist scum. Like Hitler, the Right wants to punish the undesirables that weaken our society--homos, wetbacks, blacks, and liberals.

Amongst this backdrop, we find the centrist. Now, centrists believe rather stupidly that truth lies somewhere in the middle of extremes like some kind of political equivalent of the golden mean. They think that "moderation" is the answer to the "complex" problems we face. If everybody could get just get together, cross the aisle, and join hands in a rousing chorus of kum-bay-yah, then all of our problems would be solved. Ironically, I have people who paint me as a centrist as well. Folks, I am not a centrist. In fact, I see centrists as being a greater threat to liberty than either Left or Right. Those centrist horse traders are actually the ones who get things done, and when government advances, liberty dies.

Left, Right, and Center are all joined together in a fundamental belief that freedom is the cause of all problems. Seriously. Every crisis from 9/11 to Enron ends in a call for less freedom and more government control. Yet, government's track record at accomplishing any level of what they claim to aim for is dismal. The result is that law abiding people are punished and made to live in prison while the real thieves and crooks get more and more freedom. Those thieves and crooks are the politicians and their friends and contributors and recipients of government largesse. Their victims are people like you and me who want to work, earn a living, and enjoy the good things that life has to offer and which we've earned.

There is only one just order and that is the way of freedom. We know this both in principle and practice. Read the front page of any newspaper in light of what I just told you, and it all becomes plain as day. Politicians are merely playing off of you--the suckers. We despise them because they have no principles, yet when do we ever vote for principled people? That is because the American people collude in their own imprisonment. They want freedom for themselves but not for anyone else. But I have found and history shows that the best way to protect your own freedom is to also protect and advance the freedom of others.

I recognize that people want to put me in the camp of their enemy because this makes an easier argument for them. But, seriously, move beyond this. I am not a leftist, a right winger, or a centrist. I am a classical liberal or what we know in America today as a libertarian. Take the time to learn and appreciate what my position is even if you disagree with it. This makes a lot more sense than trying to put me in a camp for which you have decades of arguments to draw upon. But that requires an examination of your fundamental thesis that freedom is a bad thing. For some reason, no one really wants to address this fundamental issue. and I think I know why. It is because it is an accurate summation of your thinking, and you don't want people to know this.

Now, I recognize that people will say I engage in much of the same thing by calling my opponents commies and fascists. But those labels fit. Everyone claims to be a defender of freedom, so saying you believe in some amount of freedom makes no difference to me. The Constitution of the Former Soviet Union was a rousing document detailing freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship. You can find a copy of it here:

Constitution of the USSR

Here's my favorite section:

Rights, Freedoms, and Duties

Like I said, everyone believes in freedom. But here's the key:

Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state. . .

There you have it. What the State giveth the State taketh away. Remember, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or what have you were all well-intentioned people who had what they considered to be your best interests at heart. Freedom and liberty in their mouths is simply rhetoric and propaganda. Even "heroes" like Che Guevara are actually murderers who killed people for nothing more than having a differing opinion. You won't see that shit in The Motorcycle Diaries. But folks like Bob Redford seem to have no problem overlooking this shit. I wonder what he would think of a similar treatment of the early life of Hitler.

PRINT-Rats by Robert Sullivan

Sullivan's Rats is a book with everything in it. It is naturalism, history, biology, and social commentary all rolled up into one. It is everything you wanted to know (and didn't) about the furry creatures that seemed permanently attached to human society.

If there is one lesson to take from Rats, it is this. CLEAN UP YOUR GARBAGE!! You can trap rats, poison rats, and even shoot them marksman style as some exterminators are forced to do. But the key to controlling rats is to control their food supply which is human garbage esp. in big cities like New York and Chicago.

Another thing you learn about rats is that killing them for a living is a very lucrative profession. Combined with termites and roaches, you will never lack for work or a living. But there is one cardinal rule of the pest control profession--CONFIDENTIALITY. You can't let your client list get out. Every business and restaurant wants to keep all this shit on the down low. Makes sense considering that people don't want to eat at some rat infested restaurant even if it is one of those deluxe five star eateries that cost $200 a plate.

Rats are also very interesting creatures. They fuck like mad including dead females and other males. They can gnaw through concrete. They can swim. And they are also territorial. They don't venture far from a regular food source.

I can't put down everything you will glean from this book, but you will enjoy reading it. And you certainly won't find it on Oprah's list.


Jason Statham plays a hitman named Chev Chelios who has been poisoned with a substance known simply as the "Beijing shit" which works slowly on his body by inhibiting adrenaline receptors. In order to stave off death, save his dipshit girlfriend, and enact revenge on the ones who killed him, Chelios must keep the adrenaline pumping in this rollercoaster ride of a movie with a plot resembling a videogame such as Grand Theft Auto. Just like a videogame, Chelios must power up constantly with such things as cocaine, Red Bull, nasal spray, a shot of epinepherine, and sex. Needless to say, the movie is breathless in its pace but maintains a sharp sense of humor. My favorite scene has to be when Chelios fucks his girlfriend in public in order to stay alive.

I highly recommend this one.


For those out of the loop, here is what you need to know. Andrew Luster is the heir to the Max Factor fortune and a serial rapist. He is a rich sick fuck who skipped out on bail back in 2003 and went down to Mexico. Luster is now sitting in prison serving a 124 year prison sentence thanks to the efforts of Duane Chapman better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Dog and his family went into Mexico to get Luster, but bounty hunting is against the law in Mexico. Now, Mexico is extraditing Dog back to their country where he will almost certainly be tried and convicted and probably be slaughtered in one of those Mexican hellhole prisons. That's a grim fate for someone who I consider to be a hero. Mexico did nothing to send a surfing and partying Luster back to the USA, but now the Feds are bound and determined to give the Mexicans their guy. It just boggles the mind.

You can support the Dog by going here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The 4 Ways to Spend Money by Milton Friedman

Being John Amechi, but not being Tim Hardaway

I have waited a couple of days to blog about John Amechi's new book in which he announces that he is gay (the first active or retired NBA player to come out). Or about the nuclear explosion in the wake of former All-Star Tim Hardaway's statements on a Miami radio program this week:

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

It only has gotten worse for Hardaway as his recent attempts at damage control have included apologies, non-apologies, and the statement that he would disown a gay family member. The NBA dismissed Hardaway from his official role in All-Star Weekend events. It remains to be seen what becomes of his broadcast job.

I do not have a coherent picture to paint of this incident, other than to store it as another example of how free expression plays out in sport. For now, though, some totally random thoughts:

First, Hardaway's comments took the spotlight off the previous leader in the "What Were They Thinking When They Said That?" Competition: the Sixers' Shavlik Randolph, who said, when asked about Amechi's revelations, that he was fine with it "as long as you don’t bring your gayness on me." This one is funny, just because I have no idea what it means. I am not sure if Randolph meant: a) Don't have your sexual orientation rub off on me, like a cold or b) Don't hit on me. Either way, nothing like a couple years as a student at Duke to give someone a nuanced, enlightened understanding of the world.

Second, I cannot tell what impact Amechi coming out will have. It should drive home the point that there are gay professional athletes out there. And it makes some sense that the first player to come out is not a superstar, but a journeyman who has less to lose by bringing the political issue to the fore.

Third, this incident is a good barometer of where American society and sport (as its own insular society) is on this issue and how far we have to go. On one hand, the initial (pre-Hardaway) positive reaction to the revelation by current and former players suggests a level of acceptance that, perhaps, is higher than we might have expected. Maybe professional team sport is ready for an openly gay athlete--as opposed to the closeted gay athletes who, statistically speaking, are already in the locker room.

On the other hand, Hardaway's comments--blunt, abrasive, and offensive though they may be--may be an accurate reflection of the majority view among NBA players. Men's sports, especially men's team sports, remain (along with the military) the last bastion of high-testosterone, hierarchical, male-bonding machismo, with which homosexuality is (perceived to be) incompatible. I get the sense (with no real empirical or evidentiary support, just a feeling) that women's sports is a little more accepting of lesbian athletes and coaches (the controversy at Penn State notwithstanding). Actually, society in general is more accepting of lesbians than gay men. The point is, maybe we are not as far along as we would like to think.

Fourth, Hardaway actually deserves some credit for his honesty. I believe he holds those beliefs about homosexuality deeply and sincerely (although I do not know their source). And again, I believe many athletes hold similar (if less sharply stated) beliefs. But I am convinced there is a benefit to hateful thoughts being brought to the surface, to knowing who holds those ideas and to being able to respond to them (as the NBA and much of the media has done). I also may be unique in actually preferring that Hardaway not apologize, that he stick to his beliefs (and let me know what they are) and bear the consequences of those beliefs. (As a side note, I have said the same thing about those who express hateful views, and then try to half-apologize in the wake of an angry response, about groups of which I am a member).

Fifth, I do feel bad for Hardaway that his world is falling down around him, because (listening to the radio interview) it sounds like he did not quite know what he was walking into. I am not suggesting that he was ambushed or that he is being treated unfairly. Only that he seems not to have given much thought to the real-world consequences of his statements. There may be something to a column that ESPN's Jeff Pearlman wrote several months ago, suggesting that we ought not look to athletes for political ideas, because many (not all, but many) live in a highly insulated world.

It is hard not to think of Al Campanis, whose long career as a scout and executive for the Dodgers (the team that lead the way in integrating baseball) ended abruptly in 1987 with some ignorant and incoherent (but far less hate-filled) comments about African-Americans lacking the "necessities" to be managers and general managers.

On the other hand, Campanis did kick-start the conversation that has lead, too slowly I admit, to improvements in the number of minorities in management and executive positions. Maybe this controversy will, in the end, advance the cause of gay athletes.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. A lot of cheaters got busted down at Daytona this week. The cheating is neither a surprise nor a scandal. NASCAR is a sport started by bootleggers, so cheating in stock car racing has a long tradition. I doubt there is a single driver in the field that hasn't benefitted from an illegal edge at one time or another.

NASCAR has taken the step to crack down on this shit. But the whole point of racing is to gain an advantage. Why is a bit of wedge in the rear legal while an extra inch of spoiler isn't? The rules are a bit arbitrary. But they are what they are, and a bunch of teams will just have to pay the price this weekend.

2. Britney Spears has shaved her head. Seriously.

3. The IDIOT OF THE WEEK award goes to Scottie Pippen who after two years of retirement wants to return to the NBA and make a comeback at age 41. What a dumbass. He must have discovered roids.

4. I wish Fidel Castro would just die already.

Masterton A&P Show - Reilly is my star pony!

Well today was crunch day. The day we have been preparing Reilly for for weeks. The day of the Masterton A&P Show. I'm just so happy with him I could cry! As the weather was officially vile yesterday I left plaiting and primping him until this morning and was out in the paddock at 9am in the drizzle getting him ready. I think he ended up with nearly 40 plaits - hahaha! I didn't plait his tail in the end because I tried twice and it looked awful so he ended up with it au naturale.

We loaded him on to the float and he travelled to the show like a seasoned professional, not a two year old baby horse who has never been off the property in his life, bless him!

Once at the show he unloaded nicely and we walked him around. He took it all in his stride. There was a lot going on and he was very interested in everything and did not know where to look first but he never put a foot wrong.

I had all but decided to pull out of the turn out because I was so ashamed of his plaits but we went ahead and entered the class only to come away with a shock third place! Seriously you could've knocked me over with a feather. The class was not small either so it wasn't even that we got third out of three, LOL!

Next class was the 2yo class and it was a big class, esp. by Masterton's standards! He was second and I was so proud of him. The first place getter was a lovely mare with four high whites and a blaze, I reckon they would make a really nice baby, hehehe! Pretty sure she was well placed at HOTY last year as well as winning at least one title at the NZ Grand National Show - well deserved too by the looks of her as she is stunning!

Reilly was called in for the Championship class but unfortunately had a bit of a whoopsie in his workout - I think he was a whisker from taking out Reserve but wow, just to have been called in was awesome!

Next class was three year old and under suitable for hacking and dressage. Another big class (11 entrants) and another ribbon, this time a third.

Last class for us was the four year old and under suitable for SJ/Eventing and Hunting but he was not placed in this class. I kind of expected that but think it is so funny as of course, he was bred to Event and SJ!
Whilst he was in the ring I had a lady come over and talk to me. She had been admiring him and had noticed his stallion tags and was looking for a TB stallion to put over her Arab mare - Reilly got himself a date 'n all! I guess it really does pay to get them out and about!

Once finished, I gave him a wee feed whilst we packed up and then he was loaded and we were on our way. He travelled home happily and had a lovely big roll when we put him back in his paddock - I watched him out the study window for the rest of the afternoon. He was a tired baby and just stood quietly swishing his tail. Pooped! I just know that Lark was watching Reilly from her spot the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and she is as proud of her son as we are. Reilly is a testament to her beauty and her wonderful spirit. We miss you Lark but we love your son.