From a reader:
Your linked article is quite relevant to this discussion and should be read by those wishing to participate. There is a distinction between private and public actions.
Although bad behavior does warrant a good ass kicking, Public bad behavior is best handled by “the Authorities”. i.e. police, courts, the NBA, the house ethics committee- whoever.
A private a**-kicking…encourages corrective behavior. A public one (the basketbrawl) can start a riot.
An a**-kicking society may be a polite one, but a lawful society is an orderly one.
And, from another reader:
I’m so tired of reading and hearing comments like those expressed in the Artest email that you recently posted. The night of the brawl John Saunders said on ESPN that if you’re walking in Times Square and someone throws a beer at you, you’d do the same thing. Both the email writer and Saunders improperly compare two disparate events.
Society expects and demands extraordinary behavior from certain individuals or certain classes of individuals. Jackie Robinson took a lot more abuse than Ron Artest, but he never retaliated. He knew that to do so would damage his career and the potential careers of black athletes that would follow him. Restraint was demanded and he accepted that responsibility.
Similarly, we demand restraint from law enforcement officials, your “hidden law” column notwithstanding. And it has been a not-unspoken rule that we insist that professional athletes not go into the stands after idiotic fans. A professional athlete is required to consider these situations ahead of time. He knows that he will be performing in hostile arenas half the time. He has to be aware that idiots and alcohol might combine to create situations such as the one that occurred the other night — athletes get stuff thrown at them all the time. He has to understand that no matter what happens, he must rely on security to handle such situations.
The entire event would have been over with no fan involvement if Artest had not climbed into the stands. “Hidden laws” are supposed to make things run BETTER. Artest’s actions made everything much, much worse. There’s NO justification for what he did, none. I’m sure this is a girl thing (never have I been more convinced of the superiority of females than I have during the past few days), but it never would have occurred to me to do what Artest did. I can’t say — as so many sportswriters have — that “I understand why he did it, but…”
I know you said you didn’t “entirely” agree with the email that you posted — but you posted it just the same. I want to be on the record saying that I entirely disagree with the email because the premise that what Ron Artest experienced was the same as what anyone experiences when a cup of beer is thrown in one’s face is faulty. The email may have been clever and witty but it’s still basically stupid.
And now I’m going to get in sooooo much trouble from Kathryn for the public bawdy language this (now hopefully concluded) series of posts has generated.