Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mass Cowardice

We live in an era of almost unfettered ability to broadcast and to communicate one's thoughts.  There are too many social networking sites to count.  The on-line arm of every newspaper and magazine has a comments section.  Many also provide "Forums", which provide yet another vessel into which one may vent his or her spleen.  Every ass hat - including Yours truly - has a Twitter account (@adamkenny89).  And far too many ass hats - including the aforementioned - have established permanent or seemingly permanent encampments in the "blogosphere".  Who needs a publisher when one has a platform on which to write and opposable thumbs? 

Right or wrong, on-line communication platforms (as a general rule anyway) permit those who contribute to the content of a particular site to do so either anonymously or - at the very least - through a cloaking device (a/k/a "user name").  Something about the "secret identity" appeals to the Batman in all of us I reckon.  

Secret identities are cool.   Not as cool as utility belts but cool nonetheless.  Right up until the point where one's secret identity morphs into a license to say anything - irrespective of its content.  There is no greater promoter of cowardice than anonymity.  He who reasonably believes he can hide in plain sight will say things that likely would not otherwise say if he feared being held accountable.  I am nobody's hero.  However, more importantly (to me anyway) is that I am no one's coward.  I write what I want.  And I own what I write.  My name is attached to it for better or for worse.

The internet is not the only place where anonymity has sown the seeds of cowardice and - to be blunt - socially offensive behavior.  For years, no place has been a better laboratory in which to foment the elixir of loud-mouthed douchebaggery than the professional sporting event.  No one is quite as brave as a drunk in the stands; right?  Do not feel constrained to take my word for it -  go to a game and see for yourself.

This past weekend the Baltimore Orioles played the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco.  According to Adam Jones of the O's, in the ninth inning of Sunday's game, which Baltimore won in a nail-biter 10-2, a fan threw a banana at him.  Jones is Baltimore's exceptionally talented, young centerfielder.  He happens to be African-American.  After Sunday's game - a game in which Jones went 2-4 with 4 RBIs including a three-run home run in the top of the 9th inning - Jones tweeted, "I want to thank whatever slapdick threw that banana towards my direction in CF in the last inning.  Way to show ur class u jackass."  (Parenthetically, his reference to the perpetrator as "slapdick" bows only to Denis Leary's excoriation of A-Rod as a "thunderc*nt" for direct, blunt, effective word usage).  The Giants' organization apologized to Jones and to the Orioles on Monday - as if they are responsible for an individual's decision to take fresh fruit (perhaps purchased at the Farmer's Market located inside of the confines of AT&T Park) and use it as a projectile, if not a weapon.  The Giants vowed to do all they can to try to identify Senor Slapdick and to punish him if and when they do so, presumably by banning him from the ballpark.

Why ban him?  Why not give him the opportunity to do face-to-face what he allegedly sought to do on Sunday fruit-to-feet:  make the acquaintance of Adam Jones.  Presuming Jones is telling the truth - and one searches for a reason (I do so in vain) why he would make up such a thing - then he should have the chance to meet the coward who threw it at him up close and personal.  Perhaps - and I am just spitballing here - Mr. Slapdick could be a guest of the Orioles at their ballpark.  They could introduce him on the Jumbotron pre-game and let their home crowd know who he is and why he is receiving such personal attention from the Orioles.         

You say it, you write it, you throw it - you own it.  Period.  If you lack the intestinal fortitude to attach your name and your face to your actions, then perhaps you should hold that particular action in abeyance until your testicles fully descend....

....or until you are confident you can outrun Adam Jones - even if he is chasing you for the rest of your miserable life.  


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