Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bound by Truth: Lessons in Balls and a Blue Dress

Why is it that every major public offense requires a "blue dress" to bring some accountability? Anthony Weiner finally had to own that lovely chest shot when outed on The Opie and Anthony Show. He denied it over and over.  Two years later he was outed again for the same behavior.  And poor Roger Sterling (insert sarcasm here), He didn't stand a chance.  It was all on tape.  And unless we get some actual physical evidence, we may never get to the bottom of Bill Cosby pileup.

So, this past Winter as "Deflategate" inflated I was really hoping that Tom Brady would tell the truth. Instead we got the typical deflect and deny.  Considering his reputation on and off the field, I was expecting more.  And honestly his fans deserved better. Finally after months of investigation and a 300+ page report rich in circumstantial evidence, it is still Deny, Deny, Deny.  And to make matters worse it is denial put into action by the promise of appeal.

Now Tom has some good company in this camp. In January, Lance Armstrong in an interview with the BBC admitted that he would, "do it again."  As the interview progressed it seemed as if he was trying to apologize - but it wound up sounding like, "well everyone was doing it."  Lance made it clear that given the circumstances of his life and cycling in the mid 1990's he would have still broken the rules.  Let's remember that it took extensive investigations until he had to own his behavior.  But, no one would consider this taking accountability.

The same rationale that Lance expressed is the same thing we are hearing today regarding Tom Brady and the Patriots.  I had a fan tell me that Tom Brady probably did it, but because they don't have concrete proof there should be no punishments. And then added, every team in the NFL cheats.  We all hear our mothers say, "If everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?"  Now, Ronald Reagan put a bit more eloquently “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” The claim that we do it, because everyone does it, is not us at our best.

Earlier, I alluded to the infamous Lewinsky "blue dress," solid evidence.  But, this past year we have seen that even with solid evidence responsibility is evaded.  In July of 2014 on video you see a police officer putting Eric Garner into an illegal chokehold.  Per the Medical Examiners office, that criminal chokehold was partly responsible for Mr. Garner's death.  In December of the same year a Grand Jury decided to not hold the officer responsible for the illegal behavior that lead to end of Eric Garners life.  So no accountability for the Officer.  Unlike the Ferguson grand jury, the proceedings of the Staten Island Grand Jury have never been disclosed. So, no accountability for those proceedings.  Then just last week in a special election the Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. (who ran the Grand Jury) was elected to Congress.  Theodore Roosevelt, not only our former President - but a former New York City Police Commissioner said,“We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources."  One has to wonder, what would Teddy have done?

There is a real problem when one has to consult an Attorney in the midst of an ethical conflict. “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts,"  according to Mahatma Ghandi.  Yet over a year ago, we saw Yankees former third basemen Alex Rodriguez surrounded by his Lawyers do everything he could do to escape responsibility for doping.  How much money did her spend denying the truth?  And after all of that he still had to sit out a year.  Now he is back in the game. Some argue that he is a better player now and more humble.  Yet, his record in baseball is tainted.  Last week he passed Willie Mays in career home runs, scoring his 661st.  There was little to no fanfare.  And there is speculation that the Yankees may try to avoid paying out on a contracted bonus for passing that record because of his doping.  Was it all worth it.?

Last evening as we slept Ananta Bijoy Das (32 years old), was hacked to death with cleavers and machete's in Bangladesh.  He was a blogger who took the risk to speak out against Islam.  Ananta knew the risk.  He is now the third person to be hacked to death in Bangladesh.  Then there was the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hedbo. Lives taken because they took the risk to publish and to do what they felt was their right to do.  They knew the risks, threats had been made before. You hear stories of unapologetic Nazi's such as  Hermann Göring (the second highest ranking Nazi official to be tried at Nuremberg) admitting to his heinous actions and decrees.  Why is standing by ones own actions so unfashionable.

(Blogger bludgeoned in Bangladesh)

In 1995, Hugh Grant was arrested in LA for having sex in a public place with a prostitute.  In the days that followed, he owned his behavior.  He didn't hide behind a wall of carefully calculated PR stunts.  Nor did he run to check himself in to re-hab.  Hugh went on The Jay Leno Show and in short said, "...I did a bad thing..."  And if that wasn't enough he went on Larry King and said, "I could accept some of the things that people have explained, stress, pressure, loneliness, that that was the reason. But that would be false. In the end you have to come clean and say ‘I did something dishonorable, shabby, and goatish....'"  He is right in the end you have to come clean.

“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.” To Mahatma Ghandi, manliness includes accountability regardless of cost. I would go a step further to say true accountability - before the blue dress, the video tape, the DNA evidence, the 300+ page report.... Lack of accountability in the face of truth is weakness.  Will we ever see a true man or women that dares to be duty bound to the truth?   According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “As a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth.” 

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