posted on Jan, 13 2006 @ 04:37 PM
Dear Yeah Right,
I think you make a good point about the high school student thing, how they have zero established identity, zero fan base, etc., when they come into
And you're certainly right about the twisted, demented concept of "respect." Let me tell you a quick, sad story:
One of the biggest legal "victories" I have ever won for a client, I regret to say, was the reversal of a second-degree murder conviction in a killing
which occurred over "disrespect." Basically, my guy liked to bully these two young guys; they sought help from a big guy; he told my guy to back off,
in front of young women; and my guy, publicly shamed, did what any reasonable man would have done: bought a gun, lay in wait for the other guy, and
shot him three times in the head.
The idiot judge had to pick THAT case to make a textbook error of huge constitutional proportion, violating the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation
Clause. If the prosecutor had had any brains, he'd have said, "Yo, judge, I want to win this case, but I don't want to have to try and win it again
in 3 years."
My guy was SUCH a punk that, at the time I won the appeal and his murder conviction was thrown out, he was in the infamous SHU at "Pelican Bay Prison"
in far northern California--the worst prison in the country. You have to really earn it to be sent there... be a huge troublemaker IN the joint.
If you're disgusted by that story, try being in my shoes. I did my job--hating every minute of it, but knowing that if I deliberately tanked it, I
would be more morally guilty than any of the Black Sox were in that World Series (think about it). The result of the judge's idiocy was that, because
witnesses were now unavailable (in Mexico), my guy got to plead to manslaughter and do only 3 more calendar years. Without the error, he would have
seen a parole board every 3 years after doing his first 15, but he would NEVER have been granted parole. De facto life without parole (cops and
lawyers call it "lwop.")
So there you have the "disrespect" sickness carried to its most sick, most extreme and most horrible. And it happens that way every f'ing day in
this country--in the Crips and Bloods, the Nortenos and Surenos, the Aryan Brotherhood, and all sorts of much smaller gangs of imbeciles, plus people
who want to pretend their gangsters, for god knows what reason.
So YEAH RIGHT, you have made me aware of something I should have realized a long time ago: It is pro athletes--and far more than any others, pro
basketball players--who are promoting this infantile notion of disrespect and the things a "man" must do when he encounters it.
You know, it's exactly as idiotic as the cr@p gunslingers would do over disrespect in episodes of "The Rifleman" and other mega-violent
black-and-white TV westerns of my youth. I laughed at it as a child, because it seemed so laughable that someone would want a gunfight to the death
over someone's accidentally bumping into him, or someone's looking at him wrong.
And now we have it, everywhere, for real. And we have the same fatal violence in response to the most minor forms of youthful violence. Hell, when I
was a teenager or young adult, if you fought someone, you let him get up after you knocked him down, and vice versa, and if he was the one still
standing when it was all over, so be it. Nowadays, it seems like the worst damn thing you can do is win a fist fight. In the mid-to-late 1970's,
when my alcoholism was in full "bloom," I got in a ton of fights and won most of them, because I was invulnerable to pain (until the next day) and
quick to rage.
And NONE of the guys I ever beat up went home for a gun or knife or aluminum baseball bat. You know? You accepted your asskicking? Believe me,
accepted my share of them.
But now, god help you if you win a fight. The other guy just HAS TO "get an equalizer" and blow you away, or at least use a tire iron to beat you
within an inch of your life. Or have three or four other "men" do so. And if you're perceived as looking at the wrong person with "disrespect," or
talking to him with "disrespect," well, you'd better apologize quickly or god knows what will happen.
YEAH RIGHT, as I read your letter, all this sh*t came together for me, and the awful memories of that major professional "victory" of mine from late
1997 crawled back into my brain and tortured me anew, and you know...? I am certain you are right.
QUESTION: Since this cr@p never happened until about 25 years ago, and since it happens ALL THE TIME among members of black, Latino, white and
even Asian gangs now, and is done fairly often by gangsta wannabes, obviously major forces have injected it into our society. It's NOT TV, because TV
shows sure don't glorify those thugs. I doubt movies depict them positively, either, though I could be wrong.
But YeahRight is right-on. I may not watch much hoops, but "the glory of me" is definitely what the game's become about.
You know the old football saying about how, when you get in the endzone, you should act like you've been there before? There's a complementary saying
for hitting a home run, but I forget it. Well, hoops players (even awful ones) score lots of field goals. Shouldn't THEY act like they've done it
before? Shouldn't decent defenders act like they've stolen a ball before? Wouldn't Wilt, Oscar, Magic, Bird and Jordan have gotten exhausted if
they'd gone berserk every time THEY made a great play?
So yeah. I agree with you. And I think this "mememe" cr@p has done a lot more than just contaminate the NBA and empty seats. I think it's infused
our society--or various portions of it, including among all major racial groups except perhaps Native Americans--with sick and perverse notions of:
(A) what it is to be a man; (B) what is "respectable"; (C) how one should respond to an act of "disrespect," or to an act of violence which doesn't
threaten anyone with serious physical harm; and (D) how a man should respond if he's in a mutually chosen fight and loses.
YeahRight, we longtime criminal lawyers sometimes think we've got society and the justice system "wired" because of how long we've been involved in
it. Hell, I've been to visit people on San Quentin's Death Row, and not just once. You should try that experience one time, if you want to see what
an oppressive, scary, grim environment feels like.
But you've made me aware of a "bigger picture" connection I failed to make. And I DON'T think the gangsta "culture" gave rise to today's NBA. I
think that to a large extent it was the other way around. I just never thought about it in the right light, or put it all together, until now.
Baseball History Nut