Thursday, December 13, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #86 - Part 1

Hero Award #1: Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas

Something new on Left Side of the Aisle. I've got the Outrage of the Week. I've got the Clown Award, which was supposed to be an occasional feature but has become a regular one because there are just so many clowns out there. So I'm going to balance that some with what - given the state of the world - I am confident will remain an occasional feature: The Hero Award.

To kick this off, I have two Hero Awards, the first of which actually goes to two people.

Shortly before 8AM on Saturday, December 1, Jovan Belcher, a starting linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his 3-month old child. He then drove to the Chiefs' practice facility, thanked his coach and general manager, and shot himself in the head right in front of them, killing himself.

There was some criticism of the decision that was made for the Chiefs to go ahead with their scheduled NFL football game just 28 hours later. Others defended the decision, talking about "moving on" and even how unfair it would be to fans of the Carolina Panthers who had traveled to Kansas City to see the game.

Jason Whitlock, a columnist for Fox Sports, didn't see it that way. He wrote:
I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.
Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.

Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.
NBC broadcaster Bob Costas used his halftime segment on "Sunday Night Football" to address the same issue. Mocking those who mouthed platitudes about "something like this puts it all in perspective," he said "Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective." He then quoted Whitlock's column, including his declaration that, even in the face of speculation about concussions and head injuries, quoting Whitlock, "What I believe is, if he," that is, Belcher, "didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Costas, with his higher name recognition and bigger platform, got most of the backlash, including the predictable demands he get fired, but neither he or Whitlock have backed down.

At a time when federal courts are declaring that states can't ban the carrying of concealed guns, at a time when yet again again again we have someone walking into a public place and shooting it up, in this case a mall in Portland, Oregon, leaving three dead and another wounded, at a time when we tell ourselves the childish fantasy that even more people having even more guns will make us safer, at that time Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas said what needs to be said. And for that, they are heroes.


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