Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jemele Hill Probably Just Wants To Make You Laugh

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.]


Jeff said...

The Bin Laden comment is classic Jemele. When supporting a cause, she admits the facts, then immediately discredits it as immaterial in comparison to something that has nothing to do with anything.

"Sure Kobe Bryant may have raped a girl, but it's not like he burned down a school and killed 200 kids!"

Tonus said...

I guess when Jemele was gathering up her anecdotes, she managed to lose the one about Jason Giambi, who testified under immunity and admitted using steroids and got a black eye from the press over it. Oh sorry, he was white, that wouldn't have fit too well in that house of cards she was building.

Someone needs to point out that the feds take grand jury testimony given under immunity more seriously than you would think possible. Basically, if you lie under oath when you've been given immunity, the feds will drop the gloves and come at you swinging. If you let people off the hook in that circumstance, you've undermined the usefulness of both grand juries and immunity grants.

But hey, they only ever went after Barry for lying to a grand jury, and Budda White got off scot free that other time!

dan-bob said...

Ugh. What an awful article. I feel ill.

Anonymous said...

When I saw this article on ESPN I immediately jumped over here hoping to have it broken down. Great job Larry;
And also, what's with people like Jamele and Joe Morgan claiming that Bonds isn't guilty. How is that possible?? He's been indicted on perjury charges. They don't just make that shit up and if they did they wouldn't wait four years. How can anybody defend this guy??

Anonymous said...

Great article! The seriousness of the Perjury charge is that our entire legal system is founded on "telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth"
Lying (or Perjury) before a legal panel establishing a case, destroys the foundation and makes the legal system as wishy washy as the media!


Anonymous said...

kurt cobain = too soon?
larry, an object must soon be thrown into a body of water if you can make it out of your parents' basement... let's talk next week

eriz said...

hahahahaha. Larry, I started to do a write up about this jemele column, and about 2 paragraphs in, I was like "feh... I'm gonna go play Super Mario Galaxy instead"

I'm glad I didn't finish because yours was much better and you didn't resort to calling Jemele a "nappy headed ho" like I was gonna.

Anonymous said...

Any TMQ love this week? The CEO stuff and (Of Course) Patriot rage is particularly off-putting.

Anonymous said...

Any TMQ love this week? The CEO stuff and (Of Course) Patriot rage is particularly off-putting.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, man. I was hoping that some of the knuckleheads from the ESPN boards would come over here so I could better make fun of them. I guess there is still hope.

larry b said...

Thanks all for the comments.

Tonus, insightful point as usual.

Steve- Well put. You said what I wanted to say with 2% as many words.

Anonymous 10:32 AM- Is CM going to take care of that? I'm already getting excited about it. This is the key year during which the torch must be passed to the next generation. Also, get yourself a damn gmail account.

Eriz- fair enough, you get the next Jemele disaster.

Double posting anonymous- I'll take a look and do something about him for tomorrow morning if it's worth it. I'm only one man, give me a little time!

Andrew- yeah, I'm hoping they will if I post this link in the "conversation" section. Or did you do that already?

Anonymous said...

Bonds...who isn't even the first player to lie to the government about taking performance-enhancing drugs (see: Palmeiro, Rafael)

Jesus, does she even know how to use a calendar? Bonds' testimony to the Grand Jury occured in Dec. 2003, while Palmeiro went in front of the congressional subcommitte in March 2005. It seems to me that, oh wait, 2003 probably happened before 2005.


Anonymous said...

Cake in the lake!!

Anonymous said...

Larry owes me a pair of cargo pants because I spit salad dressing all over them laughing. New too...from Target, which is all a poor doctor can afford.

I am glad you explained how crime works. Because of everything I read lately on the sports page, I was struggling with the concept.

Who are Pooky and Nino Brown???

Anonymous said...

Larry, being funny is more important than being articulate.

Wow, we should make a T-shirt saying that.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely enjoy any bashing of Jemele Hill here at FireJay.

I've been an avid reader for a few months now.. a friend of mine posted this Hill article along with an email he sent her about how her article was a piece of shit. I left him a comment as well as a link to FireJay.. So expect to add a few more readers to the "5 of us." Great work!

J Man.

eriz said...

Andrew- yeah, I'm hoping they will if I post this link in the "conversation" section. Or did you do that already?

yeah larry, some joker named "erroesch" posted this link in the ESPN conversation. He must really like this site

larry b said...

Oops. LarryB303 did as well. What are the odds?

Anonymous said...

great job on this. on espn i wasn't able to get past the first few lines with out wanting to slap her and stoped reading it. i started reading the comments there and found the link to this. i was able to read it here cuz someone else was thinking the same thing i was adn i was able to relate to that which kept me reading. again great job on this.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA Ive always thought of her as a shitty highschool news letter journal that will throw a couple big words at you. How the fuck did she get my dream job and who can I complain to about this?

Miserable Bastard said...

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and tell you how great you are. Jemele is an awful writer, who certainly jumps on the wrong side of the debate at all times based on race. However, those of you that support our government using $6M of YOUR tax money to hunt down Bonds for lying about using steroids (OMG) are a bunch of clowns. What does indicting Bonds do? It puts him on the front page of every newspaper in the country, while damaging and important stories like the misuse of funds and mistreatment of veterans at Walter Reed slips behind the paparazzi pages, and outcry over waterboarding disappears from the paper entirely.

And for what? So that a bunch of people that all knew Bonds took steroids can gloat in him going to jail for it? Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I had never been to this site but I freakin love it. I honestly cannot understand why ESPN employs idiots like Jemele Hill. Just looking at her picture next to her columns pisses me off, she's literally the most unintelligent journalist I have ever read.

Anonymous said...

For those who think it is not worth it to prosecute Bonds for perjury read this simple sentence from the Wiki:
"Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice."

If ensuring something as basic as telling the truth under oath in a court of law is considered a waste of time, then we have no democratic foundation in this country. Period.

Miserable Bastard said...

AHAHAHAHHAHAHA. Wow, did Jemele Hill point you in that direction? I'm fairly sure that Barry Bonds lying under oath is not a threat to "usurp the power of the courts". If you think so, well, maybe you should put the crack pipe down. Bonds is an athlete, nothing more. $6M dollars and the hundreds of man hours that were spent to crucify him is a WASTE OF TIME, sorry. In a country with as many problems as are own, it's sad to see people applaud this, while they turn a blind eye to far more serious issues. Who cares about what else is going on, at least we're getting justice on the baseball home run record!!!!! What a joke.

Would you rather see this country prosecute the members of the Bush Administration that have violated numerous laws, misappropriated billions of dollars in taxpayers money, and killed thousands of Americans in a war based on misinformation? Or does making sure we protect the sanctity of the home run record mean more to you?

Simple fact - if Barry Bonds were not Barry Bonds, and were instead Alex Gonzalez, this would never have happened. It's people like you that value meaningless baseball stats over the integrity of your own government that praise the feds for bringing to light this "scandal." Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I have 2 words for you on the issue of lying to a Grand Jury and Obstruction of Justice that you might relate to given your political views ....

Scooter Libby.

Miserable Bastard said...

Ah yes, we'll compare a case involving the leaking of an undercover agent's identity - therefore putting both her life and the lives of those around her in danger, with Barry Bonds lying about using steroids.

Fair enough - you guys win. Barry Bonds was worth this entire investigation. That $6M was money well spent. Go big government!

larry b said...

Henry- you can complain here all you want, buddy. That's why this blog exists.

Jon- Thanks for stopping by.

Gary and most recent Anonymous- Thanks for stepping up to the plate for me. I was traveling all day and to come back and see this guy's comments go unopposed would have been annoying.

Andrew- You and I have very similar political views, and I fully understand what you're saying with all the "big picture" talk. But charged rhetoric like yours isn't welcome here. Furthermore, perjury in front of a grand jury is perjury in front of a grand jury, regardless of the case or issue at hand. You can't let someone like Bonds walk because there were no lives at stake. Did the government "overspend" to bring him in? Maybe. But maybe, just maybe, we could come up with some other examples of wasted money somewhere in the budget. How much money does it cost for us to put a remote controlled car on Mars every couple of years? The point is not that NASA sucks or something, it's that our government wastes money all over the place. Picking on this one example really ignore the larger issue at hand. Which is: Jemele Hill is a terrible writer. This blog exists to be a fun distraction from the real world for people who hate bad sportswriting. It's nothing more and nothing less. Please treat it as such. Even if I grant you that the Bonds case is a "waste" of money, that still leaves 97% of the article as a big piece of shit. If you want to talk politics, I have to respectfully ask you to go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

here's my take...