All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice.

Let’s dive right into the mailbag with all your questions from the world of sports and beyond:

Adam writes:

“I live in Virginia – where our Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General — two white guys in black face and a black guy accused of sexual assault — have been headline news.  Regardless of how bad their actions are at this point have there been enough examples of personally destructive attacks (Kavanaugh being the most recent prime example) would you recommend anyone get involved in politics at all?  Too much downside risk to anyone who has not lived a completely perfect life, right? Is running for office in the United States now a personal reputation suicide mission?”
This Virginia situation is just a dumpster fire.
If you’re involved in Virginia politics I think you’d have to just laugh at this charade because otherwise you’d cry.
For those of you who haven’t been following the story — first a photo emerged from the current governor’s medical school yearbook page, which featured a photo of someone in a KKK sheet and also a person in black face beside them — seriously, was this really common in 1984?! Am I the only white person who has never seen a white person in black face?
Regardless, I have to admire the balls on the governor here. Can you imagine running as a Democrat knowing this photo was out there? Wouldn’t you have to assume it would go public at some point? It’s crazy this stayed silent throughout the entire gubernatorial campaign. Especially because the Democrats spent much of that campaign arguing the Republicans were all racist.
Anyway, after initially apologizing for the photo the governor now says it wasn’t him in the photo — somewhere Shaggy appreciates the it wasn’t me defense — but before the fall out of this story could complete itself the black Lt. Governor of the state was accused of sexual assault and then it came out that the attorney general, the man third in line for the governorship, also wore black face at a party.
All of these politicians were Democrats so it was probably inevitable that the fourth man in line for the governorship, a Republican, would also end up under fire. It turns out there were some racist photos in the VMI yearbook that he edited back when he was in college. (I helped put together my senior year high school yearbook at Martin Luther King Magnet — we had a senior year class called Yearbook, which was why I did it — so I’m actually thinking I need to go back through that yearbook and see what’s in there given all the political fascination with high school yearbooks of late.)
What all of this represents, I think, is that most people have skeletons in their closet if people investigate them closely enough. Now obviously these skeletons are of varying degrees, but they’re all present. That’s true for three reasons: 1. all of us are imperfect humans 2. it’s easier to spread scandal stories in our current culture than ever before. 3. our definition of what a scandal is continues to be expanded.
That’s how a guy putting together a college yearbook can end up in the same story with a guy accused of sexual assault. Plainly, these are not similar scandals. Yet they are categorized similarly by the media.
That’s why I’m so big on precedent when it comes to stories like these.
So let’s take these allegations in order of severity. First, the allegations of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor are potentially criminal in nature. So they are by far the most significant. But, and I think this is key, based on the Kavanaugh precedent I laid out, I don’t think we can disqualify someone from public service based on the uncorroborated allegations of a single woman. These allegations against the lieutenant governor of Virginia from 2004 are far more severe than the allegations against Kavanaugh from the early 1980’s, but my general principle applies here regardless of race or political party — just because a woman says something happened doesn’t mean you have to believe her. (We shouldn’t believe anyone is telling the truth because of their race and gender just like we shouldn’t believe someone is not telling the truth because of their race and gender. Both are wrong. We should believe what the facts tell us).
There needs to be corroborating evidence of wrongdoing, in my opinion, to take strip away someone’s ability to be involved in American public life. A mere allegation, absent anything else, is just that, an allegation. So I’d hope that Democrats, notwithstanding their attacks on Kavanaugh, will give due process to the lieutenant governor here and not continue their disastrous argument that just because a woman says something is true that means the story is true.
Having said that, I would also ask Democrats — and Republicans — to apply the same standards to the accused whether he’s black or white, Republican or Democrat. Republicans should resist the urge to attack the lieutenant governor and attack him in the same manner as Kavanaugh was attacked. All of us, regardless of our race, political beliefs, sexual orientation, sex or ethnicity, deserve the presumption of innocence when an allegation of criminal conduct is made against us.
As for the two elected officials in black face, I hope neither man resigns because I honestly don’t like the precedent that’s currently set where if something bad exists in your past that you suddenly resign if it goes public.
Because all that does is encourage the politics of personal destruction to continue.
My hope is that the modern social media era can end the politics of personal destruction.
Now let me explain why.
For the next forty years or so I think just about every person running for political office on a state or national level will have a huge trove of digital videos or photographs that include “inappropriate” behavior from their youth. That’s because most kids are imperfect and because our standards of appropriate behavior constantly evolve. I’ll give you one easy example from my high school years, I would venture that every kid I know from my high school class, white, black, Hispanic, and Asian, used the word fag casually in the 1990’s in our school.
I suspect if you’re around my age the same was true in your high schools.
If there had been SnapChat videos from back then we’d all be in them using that word at some point in time. These weren’t insults for gay kids, they were just casual insults we tossed around, frequently as terms of endearment for people we liked, like calling someone a bitch, a dickhead or an asshole when they did something dumb.
Would that mean all of these high school kids, now grown adults, are homophobes in 2019? Of course not. The opposite is probably true, in fact, since people forty and under were instrumental in gay people getting the right to marry. And, honestly, I don’t remember much homophobia back then directed at potentially gay kids either, but I also don’t remember much talk about gay kids period. That was just the culture we lived in and those were just words that were commonly used in 1996 or 1997 that I don’t think are as commonly used now.
It didn’t mean we were awful humans, it just meant we didn’t know any better.
Would having those 1990’s videos, if they’d existed, suddenly go viral be helpful today with understanding current political issues or understanding whether someone was qualified to hold political office?
No, I don’t think so.
Yet right now these gotcha moments in politics threaten to derail political careers — as well as many other careers in different industries — all over our country.
But does that really make sense? Are we really gaining anything by discouraging otherwise qualified and competent people from entering into public life by attacking them with behavior from decades ago?
If someone did something dumb when they are were 16 or 18 or 20 or 25 or, for that matter, even 35 or 45, do we really want to write them off as valuable contributors to our national discourse for the rest of their lives and assume they are incapable of growth or evolution of thought?
I happen to think that’s a really bad policy for our country.
Maybe it’s the old school religion I was raised in — and I’m never going to be able to kick my Southern Baptist upbringing no matter what — but I believe in forgiveness, redemption, and the idea that none of us should be judged solely by our worst day, whether that day was yesterday or thirty years ago.
So while I think this Virginia story is comically inept right now, I’d hope the larger lesson we’d draw from it is that no one is perfect and we shouldn’t adopt that as our goal.
We should all care much more about what our political figures are doing right now and much less about what they’ve done in the past.
So whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or neither I’d like to think we could all agree on the bedrock principle that the accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence and that political officials shouldn’t immediately resign for inappropriate behavior that happened decades in their past.
Clint writes:
“Please tell me your thoughts on this Jeff Bezos National Enquirer story. Talk about a power play. Jeff fully pulled the rug out from under them on this one. Where does this go legally? Surely Jeff Bezos can crush them if he wants right?”
I give credit to Bezos here for following the David Letterman path and not allowing himself to be extorted. (If you’ll recall Letterman just walked out on stage and explained to his audience this entire story about his own extortion instead of doing his typical monologue one night.)
Once you publicly lay out the worst things people can say about you, you completely remove their power over you.
That’s especially the case here where it appears the National Enquirer was able to obtain these photos and text messages between Bezos and his girlfriend/mistress based on the thievery of Bezos’s girlfriend’s brother. (This brother should face consequences for his acts if he’s proven to be the source of the stolen information0.
I suspect there have been many people who have played ball with the National Enquirer — and TMZ — over potentially damaging photos and videos that both companies have come into possession of over the years. Effectively they turn you into an agent by threatening to expose your misdeeds. What do they ask of you in exchange? Often, I’m sure, it’s tips of the wrongdoing involving others.
This means you’re seeking to avoid your own dirty laundry being exposed by sharing the dirty laundry of others.
I suspect this is how Donald Trump and the man who runs the National Equirer, David Pecker — seriously what a name — became allies. Both men have strong interests in the personal foibles of others and both men have interests in protecting each other.
I’ve long said that the difference between an extortion charge and a payout is a good lawyer.
The same is also true, by the way, when it comes to cases of alleged sexual assault. How in the world have so many men been able to settle civil cases alleging inappropriate sexual behavior in exchange for women ceasing to cooperate in the criminal cases? Isn’t that a case of clear obstruction of justice? You couldn’t pay off someone to avoid a murder charge, so why can you do it for sexual assault?
Anyway, I applaud Bezos for getting ahead of the story and personally addressing this issue before it threatened to take over his life.
Ben writes:
“I’m from the DC Metro area and I have a disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which is incurable and ultimately, has me confined to a wheelchair. To stay active and engaged, I’m a huge sports fan and a fan of yours! 
     
The best quality about you is that you are not the woke sports media and you tell the truth haha. With that said, here is my question to you Besides the franchise tag you mentioned on Outkick for teams to have an opportunity to keep their good players, how else do you think the NBA could better the on-court product? I’m a huge basketball fan and I want to support/watch the games but with so little drama, defense by teams and stupid player decisions killing the leagues popularity, it’s no fun to watch and way too predictable!”
First, good luck with fighting Duchenne and I hope one day we can find a cure for the disease.
As for how to solve the current lack of league wide competition issues facing the NBA, my best solution is this — each of the thirty NBA teams is allowed to pay one player outside the salary cap. That is, if LeBron’s worth $100 million a year, he could find the team that would pay him that salary. But every team could only pay one player outside the salary cap.
Then every other player would be under the salary cap on that team.
In theory this would mean the top thirty players — there are thirty NBA teams and all would have a single exemption to the salary cap — would all end up on thirty different teams. Now, teams could still make mistakes and overpay top talent with their exemption, but at least in theory this would create an incentive for all the top players to end up on different teams as opposed to signing up together.
If all thirty of the top players were on different teams then the superstar talent would be more evenly distributed across the league and it would be much more difficult for a team to stockpile too much talent.
In essence you’d be relying on each player’s greed to override his desire to play on a great team.
Right now due to the salary cap there isn’t that much difference between what Kevin Durant makes with the Warriors and what he would have made if he’d stayed with Oklahoma City.
But would Durant have ever gone to the Warriors if another team had been offering him $75 million a year or more? I don’t think so.
So that’s my solution for how to restore competitive balance to the NBA.
Travis writes:
“Your friend sets you up on a blind date with a “professional, independent, strong women.”  When you arrive, you find out it’s Jemele Hill.  What’s your next move?”
I actually like Jemele, I think we’d have a good time hanging out and probably enjoy each other’s company.
As I say in my most recent book, at one point in time I would have enjoyed doing radio with her. And I think we’d have been pretty good at it too. I used to have her on the show every now and then back in the day and she was always a good guest.
I just think instead of becoming the next Oprah she’s decided to become the next Al Sharpton.
And I think that’s a really bad career move for her.
Also, I think she has to be smarter than to try and make a joke at Donald Trump’s expense that touches on a famous line uttered before Malcolm X’s assassination. The punch line to the Tweet that she sent during Trump’s state of the union address appears to be that Trump would be assassinated.
That’s it, that’s the joke.
I’m not the joke police, far from it, but if I’d made a school book depository or grassy knoll or back and to the right joke during a Barack Obama state of union — a JFK assassination reference which appeared to lead to a punchline about Obama’s assassination — do you think I’d have kept my job?
My bet is no.
And that’s despite that fact that unlike Hill I wouldn’t have already had a long list of antipathy for Obama like she does for Trump.
It was just really dumb of her to send that Tweet at that point in time.
Derek writes:
“I don’t know how big of a national story it is yet but the Art Briles story brewing from Southern Miss is getting interesting. Head Coach Jay Hopson brought in Briles to interview without notifying the AD or president. I know no one outside of the 14 Southern Miss fans care about USM football but I think the bigger question is whether or not Art Briles is THAT radioactive? Do you think he will ever get another shot in CFB and do you think he deserves another chance? Would you hire him if you were an AD? As always, #DBAP but #SBAP”
I think Briles deserves a chance to coach football again.
That’s primarily because he hasn’t been proven guilty of wrongdoing at Baylor. In fact, the exact opposite. Baylor paid him out millions of dollars when they let him go. If they’d believed he was culpable for what went wrong at the university, why wouldn’t they have fired him for cause and never paid him anything?
That payout, to me, is pretty substantial evidence Briles wasn’t directly tied to misbehavior by Baylor.
Furthermore, every assistant coach on Briles’s Baylor staff is currently employed in college coaching as is the former AD and the university leadership at Baylor at the time. How is the Briles the only person who doesn’t get the right to coach again?
I think Briles was an easy scapegoat for a university wide issue and I think the media has been complicit in obsessively focusing on him every time he has an interview.
Here’s the deal, if you hire Briles the usual suspects in the media are going to be furious for a couple of days but then, guess what, the story disappears!
It’s amazing to me that people don’t have the balls to stand up to a couple of days of media anger.
You may not agree with the Washington Redskins decision to sign Reuben Foster, but I give them credit for taking all the body blows over that decision and not changing their minds. Because you know what happens? Eventually the tempest over the story blows over and everyone moves on to the newest outrage.
Look, talented people make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are awful. But I also believe that talented people deserve second chances. Kareem Hunt, in my opinion, deserves a chance to play in the NFL again just like I believe Briles deserves a chance to coach again.
If you’re a school or team and you’ve done your research and truly believe Briles is the best option for your program, I’d hire him.

JP writes:

“With MLB peddling their wokeness by changing the “Disabled List” to the “Injured List,” you have to think they can’t stop there, right? Know someone who committed suicide? Say goodbye to the suicide squeeze! How can we continue calling the fielder between second and third base the “shortstop” when there are so many vertically-challenged people walking around? And I can’t imagine how triggered conjoined twins must be when a rainout forces teams to play a doubleheader. WHERE WILL IT END?!!”

This is just a perfect example of solving a problem that no one truly believes is a problem.

99.9% of baseball fans have no issue with the term “disabled list.” This is not an insult to disabled people unless you also think employees receiving disability payments are also insulting them by using the term disability.

It simply means someone isn’t healthy.

I’ve already heard from a dozen disabled people through social media or email who are baseball fans and think this is a stupid idea.

We’ve got to stop responding to losers who make demands like this because they are never satisfied. Just like the nation’s general rule is don’t negotiate with terrorists, we can’t negotiate with woke people in sports either. Because they will just move on from this to attacking something else no one has a problem with.

It never ends.

And eventually it leads you to make truly stupid decisions, like this one.

As always, thanks for you questions and hope y’all have great weekends.

Send your questions for this mailbag or the anonymous mailbag to claytravis@gmail.com

Comments

Get the Daily Outkick

* indicates required