questions of the week

As we do 2-3 times yearly, let’s take a look at the week in questions. Why do we do this? One, because it reveals the subjectivity of the news. And two, because the Intramuralist likes questions.

According to The 74 Million, ABC, American Greatness, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Daily Beast, Deseret News, The Economist, ESPN, Film Daily, FOX News, The Hill, Huffington Post, Inside Hook, MSNBC, National Geographic, National Review, The New Center, New York Post, The New York Times, New Yorker, Politico, Poynter, Project Syndicate, Real Clear Energy, Real Clear Markets, Real Clear Politics, The Spectator, Sporting News, Substack, TK News, Townhall, USA Today, Vox, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, and Yahoo!, here are 65 questions the left, right, and “in between” utilized to headline their “news,” attempting to get our attention last week…

  1. A Grand Bargain on Wages and Immigration?
  2. A Swarm of Earthquakes Shakes Iceland. Are Volcanic Eruptions Next?
  3. America Uncanceled?
  4. Can America Escape the Stimulus Trap?
  5. Can Democrats Rig the Vote Forever?
  6. Can Democrats Stop the GOP Assault on Voting Rights?
  7. Can Duke Make the NCAA Tournament?
  8. Can Joe Biden Get America Out of the Middle East?
  9. Can the U.S. Economy Grow Without Immigration?
  10. Can We Put an End to the Vaccine Hunger Games?
  11. Could a Celebrity Candidate Roil the Newsom Recall Waters?
  12. Could Tiger Woods Have Been Asleep at the Wheel Before Crash?
  13. Cuomo allegations: What do Democrats Who Believed Kavanaugh Accusations Think?
  14. Do We Even Need the Golden Globes?
  15. Double Standard?
  16. How Does a Mass Vaccination Site Work?
  17. How Has a Year in the Pandemic Changed You?
  18. How Is Chris Cuomo Still On the Air at CNN?
  19. How Often Do Fact Checkers Write Off Trump’s Claims As ‘Misleading’?
  20. How Will Prince Harry and Meghan Make Their Money, Now that Royal Duties Are Behind Them?
  21. How Would Jesus Vote?
  22. Is a Spring Coronavirus Surge Inevitable?
  23. Is a Universal Basic Income Coming Closer to Reality?
  24. Is Biden Losing the Immigration Debate?
  25. Is Censorship the Answer?
  26. Is Dr. Seuss a Tipping Point in Left’s Cancel Culture War?
  27. Is Mob Justice Now Poetic Justice?
  28. Is It OK to Be Optimistic about Covid-19 Now?
  29. Is Plagiarism Legal?
  30. Is It Racist to Expect Black Kids to Do Math for Real?
  31. Is It Time to Admit That Tom Brady’s Witch Doctor Wellness Routine Actually Works?
  32. Is It Time to Put Wind Energy on Ice?
  33. Is the Biden Administration Stumbling Into War?
  34. Is The “K-Shaped” Recovery Con Finally Over?
  35. Is This the Covid-19 Endgame?
  36. In Land of Lincoln, What’s Wrong with Statues of Honest Abe?
  37. Neanderthal?
  38. Neera Tanden: First Cabinet-Level Casualty of the Twitter Age?
  39. The Indians Knew About Mickey Callaway’s Behavior. Why Didn’t They Do Anything About It?
  40. Was COVID-19 Our Neutron Bomb?
  41. What Are the Chances Tiger Woods Makes Another Comeback?
  42. What Constitutes A ‘Misleading’ Claim About Guns?
  43. What Do Democrats Who Believed Kavanaugh Accusations Think?
  44. What Do Predictions of ‘Herd Immunity’ Mean For Schools?
  45. What Does National Security Even Mean Anymore?
  46. What Exactly Are Uber-Woke Educators Teaching Our Kids?
  47. What Is an Earmark?
  48. What Will China Do With the World’s Largest Navy?
  49. What’s Happening with the University of Texas and ‘The Eyes of Texas’ School Song?
  50. What’s in the COVID Relief Bill?
  51. What’s Really Behind Corporate Promises on Climate Change?
  52. When Can We Go on Vacation Again?
  53. Where Did Millions of Dollars in Donations to Black Lives Matter Go?
  54. Who Do Sportsbooks Think the Patriots’ Starting Quarterback Will Be in 2021?
  55. Who Killed Chicago?
  56. Who Would Volunteer to Fact-Check Twitter?
  57. Who’s on the Bubble?
  58. Why Do Biden’s Handlers Have Him Back in the Basement?
  59. Why Have Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Ditched the Royal Family?
  60. Why Is Facebook Banning Myanmar Military Gages?
  61. Why Is Joe Biden Dodging the Public and the Press?
  62. Will Vaccines Help Newsom Survive Recall in California?
  63. Will the Real President Please Stand Up?
  64. Will You Still Get a Third Stimulus Check Under the New Senate Plan?
  65. Would More Funding for Low-Quality Schools Help?

Let’s keep asking questions. Let’s also be cognizant of subjectivity. 

Respectfully…

AR

teaching without tearing down

What’s too far to go?

In San Francisco, a school board voted to rename multiple schools with possibly objectionable names — including schools named after Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and the current Senior Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein.

We keep cancelling people — meaning vocal masses attempt to negate one’s entire life contributions because of a singular aspect, sentence or deed… J.K.Rowling, John Muir, John Wayne, and now Dr. Seuss. Note the inanimate are equally nonexempt; see Eskimo Pie and Mr. Potato Head. Business institutions are also becoming questionable, with increasing calls to remove or at least rename entities such as Five Guys (burgers) or moving co., Two Men and a Truck.

The voluminous voices seem to expect people before to think like people now — concluding they were bad; we are better. There is little grace in awareness of evolution of thought. In fact, if cancelling continues to be an accepted barometer of historic morality, I wonder what we will be cancelled for decades from now.

Please hear; we want to respect all people. We want to teach the generations that come. But too often as of late it seems the abrupt impulse to tear down is insisted on in place of incisive, mindful teaching. We tear down moments and monuments. We tear down even people.

Oh, the places we’ll go… have we gone too far?

Let’s be sensitive to what’s outrageous. Let’s also be honest about what’s not. 

Allow me to quote the oft outrageous Bill Maher, not one typically quoted here due to perceived disrespect. What I uncannily appreciate about Maher, no less, is his intolerance of the intolerant, albeit with a typical, bitingly-sarcastic bent. Note his recent rant on HBO’s “Real Time” (with editorial attempts to remove any denigration):

“Cancel culture is real. It’s insane. And it’s growing exponentially. And it’s coming to a neighborhood near you. If you think it’s just for celebrities, no. In an era where everyone is online, everyone is a public figure… is this really who we want to become?…

Think about everything you’ve ever texted, emailed, searched for, tweeted, blogged or said in passing. Or now even just witnessed. Someone had a confederate flag in their dorm room in 1990 and you didn’t do anything? You laughed at a Woody Allen movie? Andy Warhol was wrong. In the future everyone will not experience 15 minutes of fame but 15 minutes of shame. 

62% of Americans say they have opinions they’re afraid to share. 80% of Americans — young, old, rich, poor, conservative, liberal, white, minority — all hate the current atmosphere of hypersensitivity. Yet everyone hates it, and no one stands up to it because it’s always the safe thing to swallow what you really think and just join the mob.

So if someone asks you if Justin Timberlake owes Britney Spears an apology for not being a perfect boyfriend when they were teenagers, just say ‘yes.’ Easy…

‘The Mandalorian’s’ Gina Carano is a person I’d never heard of… She made some Nazi analogy — who doesn’t these days?! ‘You’re like the Nazis’ is the new ‘I don’t like you.’ And it’s always ok when Trump’s the Nazi. That disqualifies her?… By the way, you can’t work in Hollywood if you don’t believe what we believe. Yeah, in the 50’s that’s exactly what the left complained they were being told.

And the week before it was Chris Harrison’s turn in the barrel; he’s the host of ‘The Bachelor’ and is ‘stepping away.’ Stepping away to ‘educate’ himself on ‘a more profound and productive level than ever before.’ Oh, good. Good… and if I thought I couldn’t count on ‘The Bachelor’ for moral guidance, I don’t know if I could go on. 

Of course, he’s not stepping away because he’s the host of a televised snake pit where 32 female contestants are trapped in the sorority house… it’s because he wouldn’t throw one of them under the bus when it came to light that in college she attended a ‘Dress Up Like We’re in the Old South’ party, which is not a type of party we should be throwing, in that it winks at a civilization built on slavery, yes. But apparently in 2018, millions of people were still doing it. And mature people understand humans are continually evolving — as opposed to ‘Wokeville’… 

What’s Chris Harrison supposed to do? Build a time machine, go back to 2018 and knock the mint juleps out of their hands? Maybe while he’s time traveling, he can have a word with that [bleep] Abraham Lincoln who’s now cancelled in San Francisco — and they’re thinking about it in Illinois. Yes, ‘The Land of Lincoln’ might cancel Lincoln…”

Friends, how do we deal with what is no doubt a growing, glaring problem? From my limited vantage point, the “mob” is active. They are loud. What I don’t believe they are, however, is the majority. “Vocal” and “majority” are not synonymous. One is known most for its volume.

  • So how do we be respectful without being hypersensitive?
  • How do we teach without tearing down?
  • How do we allow for the evolution of thought?
  • And how do we not negate the entire contributions of another because a past aspect, sentence or deed doesn’t fit with how we think now?

There must be a wiser way.

Oh, yes… the places we’ll go…

Respectfully…

AR

I’m offended!

No doubt we are offended by much…

A car cuts us off. 

A close friend shares big news with the group before sharing individually with us.

A rude remark is made our presence.

And let’s be clear; in some instances the offense is unquestionably legit.

But let’s be clearer still; sometimes we go into a situation expecting to be offended.

We plan on it. We assume the worst. We instantly see another as opposition. Often before any actual, sincere listening.

We fuel our offense with all sorts of emotion — passion, anger… bitterness, resentment… you name it.

What we often withhold, however, is scrutiny. 

Hence, we fail to ask arguably the most important question…

Does my offense hold up to scrutiny?

Finding a keen, easily-discussable example of offense is not difficult in a society where social media serves as a fragile breeding ground for most every affront. So allow me to make it personal. Let me make it personal in an arena where no doubt, I have absolutely every right to be offended.

On multiple occasions, I have been unfortunately adjacent to a person who has chosen to employ use of the “r-word.” The “r-word” — “retarded” — comes from the Latin word retardare, which means “to make slow, delay, keep back, or hinder.” The word would later be used as a medical term to describe the intellect of a person with a cognitive disability; it actually replaced words such as idiot, imbecile, and moron. Today, the “r-word” is considered hate speech.

I admit: use of the word makes me cringe. Makes me mad. Makes me all sorts of very unpleasant things. As the parent of an amazing young man blessed with an extra chromosome #21, to reduce a description of him to that, is so unseemly, unfair, and wholly inaccurate. Josh has more gifts than I can count and does so many things actually better than me.

So let me again ask the question: does my offense hold up to scrutiny?

Let us first insert an important directive: it is not our place to tell others what they should and shouldn’t be offended about. Note that I am asking (and advocating) the question of self.

Does my offense hold up to scrutiny?

No doubt such a term is dated and demeaning. Its use is inappropriate. 

But what about the articulator of the term? Were they intending to hurt me? Were they intentionally trying to slam my son?

Most always, when the “r-word” is employed in my presence, I allow the other person, absent any interruption, to complete their thought, and then I ask if I can offer some insight — especially as the parent of a son with special needs. I then concisely share the evolution of the word and its current connotation. Far more than nine times out of ten, the sharer is aghast at their own usage; they did not realize they were being so insulting. And when such feedback is shared in a way that is sincere and never attacking of them, it’s amazing the ease at which they are able to hear.

It makes me wonder further still, especially with all these societal breeding grounds for offense…

What would happen if we stopped expecting to be offended?

What education could take place?

And would our individual ability to sincerely listen improve? … maybe even drastically?

Respectfully…

AR

the glaring Covid reality (and the bigger point)

My nephew was in the hospital for a total of 10 days — 6 of those in ICU.

My teenage, summer camp buddy’s entire household was affected — all 6 of them. Many lost their sense of taste and smell, but not him. He had little more than a common cold, if that.

Compare that still with my young friend on the college campus — who never tested positive but experienced a fever, chills, and prolonged muscle fatigue.

Obviously, the range of symptoms individuals have experienced with Covid has been extraordinarily broad, unpredictable, and inexact.

Let us also be certain not to omit the status of a dear professional peer; she continues to recover from what’s termed “long haul Covid,” a form of the virus which affects approximately 10% of those who experience symptoms, yet their symptoms last for at least two to three months. She was diagnosed in late December.

Adding to the ambiguity, the doctors say “long-haulers”could be anyone — young, old, healthy, sick. Demographics do not matter.

Let us ask the obvious. Why? How?

Allow me to quote one of the nation’s top hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic: “There seems to be no consistent reason for this to happen.”

So under the initial umbrella of Covid, allow us to proffer today’s bigger point: one of the things I think we’re not very good at as a culture is debunking this idea that “if it happens to me, it happens to thee.”

Because our experience is unquestionably valid — acknowledging that each of the above circumstances actually did happen — we equate our individual experience with another’s reality. At the very least, we equate it with the majority’s reality.

But it’s an unequal equation.

Let’s return to the glaring, current example of Covid, noting that as of Monday, the U.S. confirmed 53,204 new cases of COVID-19 per the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, with 4.2% of the 1,254,065 tests reported coming back positive, and an additional 1,322 deaths attributed to the virus, bringing the pandemic’s American death toll to 500,201. Also, according to the COVID Tracking Project, 55,403 Americans are currently hospitalized with the virus. 

They are hospitalized with different levels of seriousness. Some will leave. Some will not. Some will never be there. Covid affects people differently.

Says Charles Bangham, chair of immunology and co-director of the Institute of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, “All infectious diseases affect different people to different degrees. You may suffer terribly from the flu, but even if you can detect the virus with a cotton swab from the respiratory tract, you may have a mild or completely asymptomatic infection, but another virus. So I may have a milder infection than you.” Each of us has a unique set of genes which controls the efficiency of our immune response.

Hence, for those who’ve said, “This virus is awful!” That is true.

And for those who’ve said, “This is nothing,” That, too, may be true.

They speak truth… based on their experience.

I thus think there are two steps of wisdom in response.

First, I believe it’s wise to resist applying our experience to everyone else or even to assume it’s the majority. My sense is we often invoke the majority clause because it makes us feel better, venturing to validate our individual account.

But second, I believe it’s wise to refuse concluding that a different experience is invalid…

Precisely because the experience is different.

Covid is a one example — a glaring one at that; may God be with the many who continue to struggle. But may we also be more honoring of another’s different experiences, not viewing them as anything other than valid.

Respectfully…

AR

words… in life & death

It’s a phrase I’ve come to conclude, few of us understand. Fewer still, consistently employ…

Let our words be seasoned with salt.

Perhaps we should first note ten of the plethora of purposes for salt:

  • Salt preserves.
  • It enhances texture.
  • It adds flavor.
  • Salt is a binding agent; it holds things together.
  • Salt keeps fruit from browning — from going bad faster.
  • It exfoliates — getting rid of dead cells.
  • It removes stain.
  • It alleviates odor.
  • Salt heals mouth sores.
  • It also reduces swelling and stings. 

Funny. We oft think of salt on our veggies, meat, and absolutely anything potato. But imagine the keen wisdom when applied further to our words…

Salty words hold things together, alleviating the unpleasant and distasteful. 

Salty words actually allow for the healing of what’s sore, swells, and stings.

Thus, salt, in its more intangible form, equates to an unparalleled graciousness. Kindness, and tolerance, too. It is a form of speech that is tender and truthful, undeniably thoughtful. Even when tempting to do otherwise, to season our words with salt means to resist any condemnation or complaint, bitterness or boast.

And this is for always, friends…

In life. And death. Even when it’s hard.

I read recently how death is the ultimate equalizer. And how even then — maybe even more — our words matter much. We don’t speak ill of the dead — meaning we still employ the salt seasoning — because death humbles us all; we each will face the same fate one day, standing no doubt, before an active, living and loving God. I will add one tangent, personal comment — and maybe this is my emotion speaking more than my logic. But one of the most unattractive things to me is the modern day usage of social media to denigrate the dead. I don’t care who the dead is. I simply see that as an utter absence of wisdom.

So let me be more personal for mere moment more…

Someone I deeply love passed away yesterday.

He was gift to me and my family. He loved us deeply and we loved him back. What a joy it was to watch him interact with my sons over the years. He’d play with them, joke with them, ask them great, probing questions… never offering judgment, even through those oft-erratic, hormonal teen years. He was hospitable always, gentle and unquestionably loyal. He was so generous with us. Always. He loved Jeeps, British Labradors, and a good pot of coffee. He always had a full pot waiting for any waking in his home. He was faithful, sincere, and encouraging of me since my earliest days.

I remember, in fact, as a kid, hanging at summer family camp — and it being one of those situations in the evening where the adults were gathered round, playing games, but only the older kids were really capable of playing. I was 6 or 7.

The adults were playing Rack-O, the classic card game in which you “rack ‘em and stack ‘em,” so-to-speak. Bob, always inviting and aware of who’s in the room, asked me to be his partner, making me feel included, affirming me even then. From that moment on, he and I always played together.

Bob was always good at seasoning his words with salt. He would add a subtle, keen wit, too, of course — another admirable gift.

Death, undoubtedly, puts life in perspective, if we pause long enough to embrace the sobering lesson. So after silent tears shed still this morn, I’m off to the store today. Need to buy that Rack-O game. Need to teach my kids.

May we always honor others, friends.

With our actions. With our words. No matter what.

With deep gratitude…

AR

stewarding our influence

We begin with succinct accounts of three distinct, polished professionals…

Some would say his personality is “larger than life.” He has a strong, affable personality and has been considered one of the most popular in his field. He is also very good at what he does professionally — one of the best of his time and perhaps the greatest ever to do what he does. But he had decided he was done. Done working. Enough was enough, and no doubt his professional efforts took an increased toll on his body; it seemingly wasn’t all that fun any more. He actually had officially retired.

* * * * *

He was a hard one. No doubt incredibly gifted, there were signs of trouble both in/out of the workplace. The sexual assault allegations were by far the most serious, although it didn’t end there; there were other domestic accusations, drama, and felony charges. Again, no one questioned his talent, but his self-focus and unscrupulous activity was a major disruption. He changed jobs multiple times, as people no longer wanted him. “Too much diva” was the description by one past employer.

* * * * *

A one time, reputable worker, he, too, was a bit of an unwanted man. It wasn’t, though, because of his behavior either in/out of the workplace. He hadn’t done anything notably wrong; he just didn’t really stand out. He was a positive contributor, but was not considered a superstar and certainly had no larger than life personality. His last employer let him go, but the man still wanted to work; he wanted to contribute somewhere. Perhaps in some ways, he simply wanted to be appreciated, absent the fanfare.

* * * * *

As Super Bowl LV has come and gone, my sense is there are more lessons from the contest that would be valuable to discuss, recognizing their application to fans and non-fans alike. Allow us then to unpack a singular, significant one…

We return to the game’s MVP — TB12, the G.O.A.T., Tom Terrific, or whatever we wish to call Tom Brady. In our most recent post, I referred to what a strong leader he is. What draws the onlooker near is the uncanny, arguably indisputable evidence of that leadership. 

Leadership is influence. It’s “influencing others to work together toward a common goal,” writes author Chad Veach. It’s not about extroverts vs. introverts; the focus is instead on where we each have influence. How do we steward the influence that we have? Let’s learn from Brady… 

Above are the incomplete resumes of Super Bowl winning, Brady teammates, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, and Leonard Fournette. None of the three played for the Buccaneers last year; all three joined the team after Brady, willingly submitting to his leadership.

But note how different the three men are. Clearly, they don’t think the same way, act the same way, believe the same things, or have similar personalities. Chances are their politics aren’t the same. They don’t even have homogeneous histories of integrity.

And yet the evidence of Brady’s leadership — which deserves to be discussed far outside the game of football — is that there is something within his approach that still brings the different willingly together.

Such scenario completely contradicts a hollow philosophy not so subtly promoted by current culture — this idea that it’s actually unnecessary to bring the different together. It’s why many even highly intelligent people continue to insist that unity can only happen when more people “think like me.” That’s not diversity, friends.

That’s not honoring either. That’s instead requiring the different to assimilate into something they are not — and requiring others to do something we are unwilling to consider.

Tom Brady seems to get that. Calm, cool Tom approaches leadership requiring mutual respect and recognition of common ground and a common goal. There is no denigrating of the different. Ever. Not in leadership that is wise.

So what happens when we actually bring the different together in a mutually respectful kind of way?

Note there were only three men who scored touchdowns in Sunday’s iconic showdown. Those three were Gronkowski, Brown, and Fournette. Guided by wise leadership, they found blessing and success.

Let’s stop pointing fingers. Let’s steward our influence well.

Respectfully…

AR

where I stand

I grew up in Indianapolis. Indy natives generally agree on three primary premises:.

  • One, basketball is best in the Hoosier state (ahem… Boilermaker state).
  • Two, the greatest spectacle in far more than racing occurs each Memorial Day weekend.
  • And three, Tom Brady is deserving of scorn.

As Super Bowl LV is now before us — the day when some 11 million pizza slices are expected to be consumed and over 100 million of us will tune in sometime during the contest — it seems appropriate to wrestle with the third premise, as Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is set to appear in his unprecedented, tenth NFL championship game.

Now before my East Coast inhabitant friends accuse me of hate speech, allow me to first semi-humbly offer the basis for said scorn. 

As one who rooted for the Colts (after they fled Baltimore in the middle of the night, which would later prompt the original Browns to flee Cleveland), we began to thrive during the era of the infamous #18, Peyton Manning. In the early 2000’s, led by Manning, we did great — until it annually came to playing the dreaded Patriots. Suffice it to say, they were a most prickly thorn in our side… or at least in our yearly playoff hopes. Tom was seemingly always in Peyton’s way.

We would finally overcome the challenge in the 2006 postseason, besting New England in another classic game and earning a trip to Super Bowl XLI. Still it seemed it was always Tom vs. Peyton. Peyton vs. Tom. We knew then that one of the two would one day be colloquially crowned the G.O.A.T.

To further justify my city’s scorn, no less, Brady led the Patriots during multiple (well, at least a humongous two) scandals… “Spygate” in 2007, in which Patriot staffers secretly videotaped opposing coaches’ signals — and “Deflategate” in 2015, in which the Patriots used deliberately, under-inflated footballs to give their team an unfair advantage during the playoffs. Brady would end up being suspended for his no doubt grievous role in the process.

But a funny thing soon happened.

I moved.

Now before any rush to judgment (as I may possibly be guilty of above, slightly maybe, potentially, along with most of the entire city of Indianapolis), allow me to offer a simple truth I recently heard one wise man say…

Where you stand depends on where you sit.

In other words, where we stand on an issue, idea, impression of a person, etc. is determined by the vantage point from where we’re sitting. We can’t see all perspectives from singular vantage points; it’s impossible. Such means then that our perspectives are each incomplete.

Where did I move to?

Florida. And Tom did, too.

I see a few things I couldn’t see before, as now I’m a little nearer to the person. I see a family man, devoted to his wife for the past 12 years. I see a strong leader, who leads by example, doesn’t brag about self nor chastise his opponents. I see a lighthearted man, whose social media presence is consistently engaging and fun. I see a man with sincerity, who warmly greets competitors, such as Drew Brees and his boys after what may have been Brees’ final professional game. And as one blessed with a resume that qualifies him as the G.O.A.T., I also see an imperfect man, thus making him capable (just like you and me) of the poor judgment that previously served only as the substantiation for my scorn.

I can see that now. But I had to first move from where I sat.

What are those issues, ideas and impressions of people where we feel emboldened or self-righteous in where we stand, but we’ve failed to realize where we sit? We are unaware of our narrow, limited perspective. Where would “moving” broaden our stance? Where would it make us wiser? More accurate?

As for today, let me simply wish Brady and his Buccaneers good luck. I like him. I like them. For the record, I kind of like that Mahomes guy, too. I find each QB and their team deserving of both my admiration and cheer. No, not of my scorn… which now I can see.

Respectfully…

AR

noble. good. and the growing trans debate

When sitting down to pen this post, it originally began like this…

Executive Orders continue to be each incoming president’s initial wave of action. In the 11 days of their January tenure, the Biden administration announced 25 executive orders, 10 presidential memos, and 4 proclamations, compared to 20 each for presidents Trump and Obama, 5 for G. W. Bush and 11 for Clinton. Let’s discuss one order last week that diplomatically stated, stood out.

By the authority vested in him as President, Pres. Biden issued an order entitled the “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” Sentence #1 stated that “Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love.” That’s not the standing out part; that is sentence #2: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

While the order doesn’t explicitly address the scenario, the consequential question is the impact this has on the transgender athlete debate. Said issue gained prominence two years ago when tennis great Martina Navratilova issued a bold opinion in the UK’s “The Sunday Times.” How are we to handle the person who was biologically born male but identifies more with the female gender as an adult — and wishes to compete on the court now with women? We strive to honor all people, so how do we honor all if we are fair to the transgender women but unfair to the other competing women? There are factual, biological differences. Navratilova then called it “cheating.”

As with all issues which are challenging in comprehending the many no doubt nuanced angles, let’s begin by asking questions. Let’s ask questions of what we don’t understand. Let us also be sure to honor those who agree and who do not — those who are passionate and those who are not. And let no one most affected by our opinions have reason to be offended by our actual words. Disagreement and offense are not synonymous.

And that’s where my originally intended blog idea stopped.

I realized that more than any even diplomatically stated issue, those last two sentences may be what challenges us the most: let no one most affected by our opinions have reason to be offended by our actual words. Disagreement and offense are not synonymous. 

How we state what we believe is separate than what we actually believe. However, in ever increasing, cancel-culture-abetting circles, how we state what we believe seems to matter less than the actual holding of the opinion. In other words…

Your mere holding of that opinion is offensive to me.

Wow. 

Note what just happened there…

If I fall prey to the lure that the simple holding of an opinion is offensive, then I no longer need to engage with you. I don’t need to listen to you. I don’t have to entertain any other nuanced angle. I don’t have to even admit that those angles exist. And don’t get me started about any semblance of respect. No, not when you’re so offensive…

And unity?! Why in the world would I even consider finding unity with someone who is so offensive?!

And just like that we once more fall prey to what’s lesser.

Less noble. Less good.

Because of that, we make increasingly less progress on meaningful issues. We have trouble discussing far more than whether it’s fair and honoring to all people for transgender women to compete in women’s sports. We have trouble even starting the conversation — or even a blog post.

May we be wise enough, therefore, to discern the difference between disagreement and offense. And may we respect others enough to let no one most affected by our opinions have reason to be offended by our actual words. Let’s state how we feel what we feel in non-antagonistic, honoring ways.

Such is noble. Such is good. Such leads to better conversation, sharpening, and maybe, just maybe, solution.

Respectfully…

AR

fame, morality & a little bit of baseball, too

Let’s begin with a lesson from baseball. It’s less than a month until pitchers and catchers report. Granted, this post really isn’t about baseball. Stay tuned…

This past week was the annual announcement of the those to be honored with membership in Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Established in 1939 by Stephen Carlton Clark, an heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, the HOF honors those who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport; their motto is “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.”

For decades they have elected an elite total of only 333 members. Among them, for example, are Roberto Alomar, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Tim Raines.

This week, however, gained news arguably most for whom they did not select — and what notably, impacted his rejection. 

The controversy centered around Curt Schilling, one of baseball’s best pitchers during his tenure on the mound. His career stats — 216 wins, 3116 strikeouts, 6 All-Star appearances, and 3 World Series championships — are consistent with pitchers previously elected.

But Schilling has a tweeting tendency that perhaps is most diplomatically described as inflammatory and antagonistic. Most recently, for example, after the insurrection at the Capitol, Schilling tweeted: “You cowards sat on your hands, did nothing while liberal trash looted rioted and burned for air Jordan’s and big screens, sit back, [expletive] and watch folks start a confrontation for [expletive] that matters like rights, democracy and the end of govt corruption.”

Let me not support Schilling’s social media presence in any way. Let me also affirm that antagonism is inconsistent with our advocacy for respect. I will add, no less, that while inflammatory and antagonistic, Schilling’s communication is not illegal.

Nonetheless, with such rhetoric a pattern in Schilling’s recent past, many Hall of Fame voters acknowledged rejecting the pitcher’s inclusion in the HOF because of his social media behavior and alignment with our most recent, former President.

As always, feel free to have an opinion. Feel free to have an opinion different than those in the room with you. I have mixed emotions on this one. But here’s what perhaps perplexes me most — fitting into the larger, non-baseball concern. Note the following:

He spat in the face of an umpire. Wife #1 claimed to be the victim of his physical aggression.

He assaulted a disabled heckler, climbing into the stands and attacking the fan, screaming he could care less if the man had no legs. He fought an umpire after one game, and also assaulted a hotel elevator operator.

He was physically abusive towards his wife. He once punched actor Billy Crystal in the stomach for not introducing him as the “Greatest Living Ballplayer.”

His alcoholism was public knowledge; there were incidents of drunk driving. There were many incidents of marital infidelity — which the press kept quiet about.

He admitted keeping a gram of cocaine in his uniform pocket, snorting during games, and said that he only slid into bases headfirst so as not to break the drug vial.

“Who were these people?” one asks.

Roberto Alomar, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Tim Raines.

While likely few of us are electors for an actual, national hall of fame, many of us feel emboldened to judge the character of another. We judge by what we see. We judge others by their actions, while reserving the right to judge self and those we love by our intent. We give grace to what we understand — condemnation to what we do not. Some sins outrage us more; some we are numb to.

The challenge, therefore — both for us and the Cooperstown faithful — is that we are so obviously inconsistent. We are measuring morality by fluctuating standards. 

In a modern world which often prides itself on being advanced, woke and aware, that’s a pretty slippery slope. For whenever we embrace relative measurements of morality, we should be aware that it can negatively impact persons we know, love, and admire next.

Respectfully…

AR