I mean, I can't think of any other reason why she would write this article. It needs no further introduction.
(Note, for the sake of legal accuracy: throughout this post, when I say "Bonds committed perjury" or stuff like that, I just mean he has been indicted. I don't pretend to know how the case will pan out, and obviously he is innocent until proven guilty. He's not officially a perjurer... yet.)
The indictment of Bonds is just plain wrong
You will automatically assume the reason I'm defending Barry Bonds is because he's black and I'm black.
You will be wrong.
Good thing I didn't also assume that you were a half-decent journalist, because I would have been wrong about that as well.
This is not about the commonality of race. And for the record, I have been as critical as anyone of Bonds.
Now, Jemele is being partially honest here. She hasn't outwardly been a vehement Bonds supporter. But when you look at some of her recent articles, such as:
Hall of Fame needs to rethink accepting asterisk ball (Nov. 13)
Why aren't Ankiel and Bonds painted with the same brush? (Sept. 11)
All-Star Game loses relevance without Bonds (Jun. 27)
You can see that she's not exactly tripping over herself to criticize the guy, either. There is a popular figure of speech for this kind of behavior: it's called talking out of both sides of your mouth. Jemele isn't dumb (about this one, specific topic). She knows that the argument about Bonds is a very contentious one. And she's desperate to please people on both sides of the issue, so she consistently writes articles that play to audiences in each camp. "Hey, it's not like I love Barry. I mean, he's a jerk and probably took steroids. But at the same time, I think everyone is being too mean to him! Be nice to Barry, what has he ever done to you?" It's pretty sad. Fortunately I am in neither the pro-Bonds nor the anti-Bonds camp. I am in the hating bad journalism camp. This allows me to see through Jemele's little ruse.
I didn't want to see him break Hank Aaron's record, because he's not as dignified as Aaron was and Bonds didn't respect his natural ability the same way Aaron respected his.
But that doesn't mean Bonds belongs in prison.
It sure doesn't! But you know what does? The fact that he lied to a federal grand jury! Wait, you're telling me Bonds isn't being indicted for doing steroids? That his actual crime is something much different, and something that no other member of baseball's "steroid generation" has done? So we can't bitch and moan about how Barry is being singled out over McGwire and Palmiero, because he did something they never did? In short, yes. (Jemele's complete and total lack of understanding about the justice system will come to further light throughout the column.)
The only way to see the indictment of Bonds is as a gross, terrible injustice, a startling abuse of power and a waste of taxpayer money.
God, I love the "this is a waste of taxpayer money!" argument that always surfaces anytime a famous person gets in trouble for something. "There are starving kids in Africa, you know!" pleads Paris Hilton's mom/Martha Stewart's fans/Jemele Hill. It's such a comical line of reasoning it doesn't deserve a response, but I am bored so I'll give it one anyways.
Here's how crimes work: if you do something illegal, and are charged with one, you have just forfeited your right to complain about the "big picture" of government and the justice system as a whole. You have not forfeited your right to defend yourself against the charges. My advice to you (and in this case, "you" is being applied to both the criminal and those who support him or her) is to shut up and deal with the issue at hand. Telling a cop who's giving you a speeding ticket that there are unsolved murders he should be solving is not a good idea. If speeding was never enforced, everyone would speed, and the greater good would suffer as a result. Same goes for one of my favorite things to complain about- parking regulations and tickets. Sometimes I get furious when I think about all the money that goes into parking enforcement in this fine country. Then I realize, if parking laws were never enforced, a whole lot of problems would pop up. I'm not here to claim to know the perfect balance of resources that should be devoted to the enforcement of every variety of law, but I most certainly am here to laugh at the idea that it's a bad thing when the government spends money (in this case, chump change by their standards) to prosecute someone who they believe has committed a felony. Our legal system has a wide variety of crimes that carry a wide variety of punishments. All have been enacted because they theoretically serve the best interests of the country. Is perjury as bad as murder? No. Could that $6 million be better spent elsewhere? Sure. But crimes and punishments (epic sports cliche alert!) "are what they are," and exist for a reason. If government authorities have reasonable cause to think you've done something illegal, and you get charged with a crime as a result, that is the opposite of a "terrible injustice." It is, in fact, an "expected occurrence." Deal with it and stop playing the "but that's a waste of money!" card. Put into one pithy sentence: that's how America works, moron.
The "race card" is somewhere in my back pocket, but I'll play that later on.
Wait! But you said... about you being black... not related... I'm so confused.
For now, let's focus on something even bigger than race -- the unbelievably deep hypocrisy that has fueled the federal government's pursuit of Bonds for four years.
How dare they attempt to prosecute someone who committed several felonies! Hypocrisy! If you look at the real facts, you'll see that they were the ones committing felonies! (And taking steroids in an attempt to break Hank Aaron's home run record, although that's not related.) Hey Jemele- if you want to toss around big words like hypocrisy, you might want to know what they mean first.
The decision to indict Bonds on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, a charge I still don't understand, considering the government didn't need Bonds to topple BALCO -- isn't right, fair or just.
This isn't about toppling BALCO. This is about a man swearing under oath to tell the truth to a federal jury (with total immunity, I might add) and then not doing so. That is a crime. A very, very significant crime. The feds don't like it when people do this, so when they have a chance to catch someone who did, they usually go after the offender. I can probably just copy and paste this paragraph about twenty more times to finish out my criticism of the article.
The feds have made Bonds into Al Capone, when he's more like Pookie than Nino Brown. They're blaming the crackhead instead of the drug dealer, the prostitute instead of the pimp, the wayward child instead of the enabling parent.
They're not blaming Bonds for distributing steroids. They already got the drug dealer, pimp, and enabling parent more than two years ago when Victor Conte plead guilty. They're blaming Bonds for a different crime, which occurred when they were trying to solve the first set of crimes.
Cast aside whether Bonds signed enough autographs, the irrelevant tales about what a jerk he's been to the media, his mistress, the rocky divorce and our general addiction to seeing towering stars fall,
OK. Do I also have to cast aside the fact that he committed perjury? I hope not.
then digest this: Barry Bonds -- who didn't create BALCO, who didn't distribute the performance-enhancing drugs that came out of BALCO, who was nothing more than a client of BALCO -- is facing stiffer punishment and castigation than Victor Conte, the man who masterminded the entire operation.
Distributing steroids. Lying to a grand jury (when you have total immunity!). Both are really bad. The former is probably more damaging to society, but the latter is still atrociously horrible and deserves harsh punishment. If found guilty, Bonds will probably receive a sentence similar to Victor Conte's 2 years of probation, so this point is irrelevant anyways.
Bonds -- who wasn't the first baseball player to take performance-enhancing drugs unknowingly or otherwise, who played in a league that, for a time, subtly encouraged PED use, who played against players taking the same drugs as him, who isn't even the first player to lie to the government about taking performance-enhancing drugs (see: Palmeiro, Rafael) --
There are two epic problems with this point, both of which prove Jemele's total inability to understand what exactly the fuck she's talking about.
1) Palmeiro allegedly lied during a Congressional hearing, which is done under oath, but is not a situation which leads to perjury charges. It's certainly nowhere near as bad as lying to a grand jury. One takes places in front of legislators, but the other takes place in a motherfucking court of law. There is a significant difference there. The best analogy I've heard is that what Palmeiro did is like lying to your boss and what Bonds did is like lying to a cop. Both will get you in trouble, but only one will get you charged with a crime.
2) I'm not here to defend Palmeiro. (Uh-oh! I'm starting to sound like Jemele. I swear I'm not a closet Rafi fan!) Anyways, it's highly likely that he had been juicing for years, but his positive steroid test came back after he testified. Therefore it's highly unlikely, but conceivable, that he was actually telling the truth when he made his statements to Congress and only got on the juice during the timeframe between the two events. With the Bonds indictment, the positive test the feds claim to have must have been administered before his testimony was given. Without that, there is no perjury charge. So obviously that's what they think they've got. It's a key difference.
is facing prison time and will be anointed the primary culprit of an era he didn't create.
As if it's unfair to ever anoint the most prominent member of an era its primary participant just because they didn't create it. I was trying to think of an example that wasn't too obscure or creepy. How about Kurt Cobain and grunge music? Anyone?
And the universe was definitely trying to send us a message, because as the Bonds indictment continued to ripple, MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced that Major League Baseball's revenue climbed to $6 billion this year, the highest amount in history. How much of that came from Bonds' bat? How much of that came because of an orchestrated ignorance of steroids?
She's got me there. Baseball is to blame for the steroids mess to a large degree. But you know what they're not to blame for? Barry Bonds perjuring himself. Nope. He did that all by his lonesome.
The government has spent some $6 million to catch a baseball player who mostly committed a crime against himself and his legacy.
And against the government of the United States, when he lied to them under oath.
They have sought Bonds for four years, a pursuit that would have been reasonable if he were a violent criminal.
Most white collar criminals are nonviolent. I guess we should put a cap on the number of years the government is allowed to investigate them. After all, there's other stuff going on, you know?
For what? Because they didn't like that Bonds didn't cower in fear while testifying during the BALCO trial?
No. Because they didn't like how he lied to them while testifying during the BALCO trial.
Because he's spoiled, rich and arrogant, and they wanted to knock him down a peg or two?
No. That's why much of America wants him put in prison. You've mixed them up with the Justice Department, Jemele. The two are not related.
Should Bonds have fessed up to whatever he did? Certainly. But $6 million seems like a hefty price to pay to crush a ballplayer's ego and inflate a government branch's.
She's right. I mean, we should punish perjurers. But not at the cost of 0.00001% of the federal budget! New rule: if the justice department can't catch a nonviolent criminal for less than $20, drop the case. It's not worth it.
I certainly don't support lying to the government -- if that's what Bonds did. But I'm not about to pretend that Bonds' alleged lie is the equivalent of handing over sensitive government documents to Osama bin Laden.
What? Bin Laden... somehow in this article... I'm confused again. Maybe she decided to drag him in after watching Bill Simmons reference Nazism four times in one column last week.
SMACK. Time to play the race card.
I love this. Boom. Slap. Smack. Boo-yeah. Facial. In your grill. Onomatopoeia. ALL CAPS. Reader, you have just been pwned by Jemele Hill. She's about to tell you how it is.
Bonds' blackness is not the sole reason Bonds is in this mess.
That's correct. In fact, for the twentieth time, the fact that he lied to a grand jury is the sole reason he is in this mess.
But it is a factor in why the fairness seems so skewed, why the vitriol seems so severe, why the pursuit was so unrelenting.
PUNCH. Time to play the please don't play the race card. Jemele, please don't play the race card if you're not going to base your accusations on anything other than unprovable bullshit which ignores the one real legal issue at hand.
Bonds' most egregious error is that he is not content to play the role of the grateful black man.
This is the last time I'm going to say it. His most egregious error is committing perjury. In fact, from now on, [P] represents the phrase "committing perjury" or "committed perjury," whichever makes sense in the context of the sentence. I'm tired of writing it. Jemele Hill is so stupid, she's moved me to using shorthand.
Black athletes, particularly males, who express the kind of arrogance Bonds does are often villified more than white athletes who do the same. Brett Favre pleaded to be surrounded by talent for years, yet when Randy Moss expressed similar frustration in Oakland he was called selfish and whiny and told to shut up.
We here at FireJay have a label to stick on columns we cover that contain stuff like this. Look for it below. Two words. First one starts with "a", second one starts with "b" and ends with "shit."
Gary Sheffield, while not the most eloquent speaker, alerted us to the obvious -- that MLB has a certain amount of economic control over Latino players because it plucks them from their home countries so they won't have to pay hefty signing bonuses in the draft.
No. Sheffield alerted us to the obvious- that he is a crazy racist dickhead who doesn't know his asshole from his elbow. And also, that you "can't control" him.
Sheffield was roasted for this, but it was perfectly fine for Larry Bird to say the NBA needs more white superstars.
More anecdotal bullshit. Oops! I gave away what the label I was talking about earlier is.
Black athletes who refuse to kowtow get it worse, and from that perspective the race card is appropriately applicable.
They don't, and, it isn't, but thanks for making yourself sound more ridiculous.
For weeks, we've gotten reports of various baseball players purchasing human growth hormone, for obviously circumspect reasons and from obviously suspect people. Why isn't the government knocking at the door of Rick Ankiel, forcing him to testify against his supplier? Why didn't the government pursue the past that Mark McGwire wasn't eager to talk about? Why does MLB seem to have only a passive interest in Paul Byrd?
Those are all relevant questions on their own. But not in the context of this article. You know why? Because this indictment isn't about taking steroids. It's about [P].
What-about-them arguments are normally despicable, but to ignore that Bonds was part of an ensemble cast is foolish and lacks perspective.
You're right, he was part of a cast. But he's the only one who [P] in front of a grand jury.
Of course, no matter how this situation concludes -- despite the hypocrisy and racial undertones in this case -- the overall moral lesson here is integrity should be used in conjunction with talent.
Still waiting for proof of hypocrisy on the government's part. I haven't yet seen the part where Jemele builds her case about them [P]. (Or taking steroids, even though that's not what the case is about.) As for the overall moral lesson part, did Rick Reilly tell her to write that? I mean, it's right and all. But still.
If it's true Bonds could have avoided this -- had he not been jealous of Sammy Sosa and McGwire, players whose talent was never in the same stratosphere as Bonds' -- then that's the real crime.
From a legal standpoint, he also could have avoided this by not [P]. That would have been really easy to do. I mean, his baseball reputation would have been damaged. But not much more so than it was before this indictment. How many rational people living outside of Northern California believed before last week that Bonds was clean? I guess what he got out of it by [P] was a more fun run at 755. People were only wildly speculating about his steroid use, rather than knowing for sure that it had taken place.
Had Bonds simply stayed the course and remained the player he was prior to the steroid era, he would have received the credit that made him seek out performance-enhancing drugs in the first place.
That's the most sense you've made all day. Keep it up, you might eventually match up with Skip Bayless!
He'll have to live with that forever. And that, to me, is justice.
Good for you. To me, though, justice is being charged with and tried for a crime when the government thinks you've committed one. I've always been an abstract thinker like that.
[Update, 1:21 PM- Steroid Nation's take on the situaion, which is a lot shorter and more articulate than mine.]
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I mean, I can't think of any other reason why she would write this article. It needs no further introduction.