Being human has become a firing offense

We’ve become a nation of self-righteous scolds, and sometimes it makes me sick.

God help anyone in the public eye who reveals some human fraility — a lapse in judgement, a revealed prejudice of some kind, an ill-chosen comment spoken off the cuff. Immediately, the Internet resonates with cries for that person’s head on a plate. Or, failing that, th

eir resignation.

No second chance. No “Just make sure that doesn’t happen again.” No mercy.

If every workplace were run with that philosophy, the national unemployment rate would be 90 percent.

Moreover, we would have had 10 presidents since Ronald Reagan if every one of his successors had resigned when public opinion demanded it.

OK, to the point: I’m talking about Roger Goodell.

So, what’s the deal here? Do we want him to quit because Ray Rice hit his fiancee? Probably not — I don’t think anyone believes Rice called Goodell on his cell phone that night and asked: “Say, Roger, my girlfriend is really pissing me off, and I’m thinking of punching her in the face. What kind of penalty would I get?”

No, we’re mad because we believe he lied to us about the infamous elevator video, and because he only gave Rice a two-game suspension.

Of course, people lie to us all the time. Politicians lie to us. Advertisers lie to us. Indeed, given the current climate, you get no points for telling the truth — people still want you to resign. Of course, none of us who are berating Goodell ever lied to cover our butts.

And it’s not as if he were violating his own policy. The NFL apparently had no policy on domestic abuse.

To me, a better topic of discussion would be how the legal system handles domestic violence. There still seems to be the unspoken concept that it’s really a private matter. Ask any cop on the beat who has made 12 trips to the same house on domestic violence calls, only to have the aggrieved party decide the next day not to press charges.

This is certainly understandable. It’s hard to haul your significant other into court. You may still love that person, or are afraid of them. Or both. We forget that Ray Rice wasn’t charged with anything.

But in the Rice case, it was all on film. If someone robs a convenience store at gunpoint, is captured by a surveillance camera and then captured by police, the clerk who was robbed can’t say: “Oh, he seems like a good guy. Let’s just forget the whole thing.”

Not even the CEO of the convenience store company can make that call. A crime is a crime.

But suddenly, because he’s the person in Harry Truman’s famous kitchen, Goodell is getting all the heat.  Why should he quit? He’s been embarrassed. He has admitted his mistake. It’s definitely not going to happen again (note the case of the Arizona running back that followed Rice’s). And this is someone whom everyone concedes has made a series of smart decisions that has made the NFL enormously profitable.

When a smart person like Goodell makes a mistake and is then lambasted by public opinion, he thinks: “Oops. I guess that’s really a big deal with people. We’d better change our policy.”

What if Ray Rice were a stock broker instead of a high-profile athlete, and the same scenario unfolded? Would anyone demand that the head of that company quit?

Yes, these people who are trashed in the media and on-line are human. Unfortunately, though, so are all the rest of us.



OK, I’m trying this again. In my previous life as a newspaper reporter/columnist, I birthed several blogs, only to have them inevitably perish from disuse — just like I always forget to water house plants until it’s too late.

This time around, I have a novel (“The Kudzu Kid”) coming out in October, several other books behind that, and a soon-to-be launched writing coach business. But no one will ever know about any of these things unless I somehow get the word out. So it behooves me to keep this blog rolling along.

The novel is about a weekly newspaper in Southside Virginia, a reflection of my long-held gratitude towards weeklies (one of which served as my journalism school on the fly). Therefore, I have created a “Weekly Warriors” page on this blog to perhaps spark some comments about the triumphs and tribulations of any low-paid saint who struggles to put out a newspaper in relative obscurity.

I also decided to reprint some old newspaper columns in this space, because I think you might enjoy them. Those who know me know that this is not my ego speaking — I always considered myself nothing more than a stenographer who invited good stories into my head and translated them for the general population. A good story is a good story, even after many years, and I think some of these might be worth recycling because they are still of general interest.

I also have a Facebook page under The Writers’ Bridge. Check it out. And please leave comments, good or not so good. I’ll read and comment on all of them.