Our latest national firestorm: Yesterday, the New York Times’ William Rhoden made an amazing statement on Morning Joe. It led us to ask our favorite question:
Are we the people—we the humans—able to reason at all?
This afternoon, we’ll transcribe Rhoden’s statement. For now, we’ll pull one phrase from his current New York Times column about the NFL and Ray Rice.
In this morning's Times, Rhoden refers to the matter as “a national firestorm.” We think that’s a wonderfully useful phrase.
As a nation, we no longer seem to be able to engage in discussion, discourse or debate. We only know how to career from one national firestorm to another.
Remember last week, when our national firestorm concerned those photos of Jennifer Lawrence? Several other national firestorms tried to gain purchase over the weekend. But this week’s firestorm has turned out to be Rice.
What makes this a national firestorm as opposed to a discussion? For starters, consider the end of Jodi Kantor’s news report on page one of today’s Times.
Kantor wrote an 1100-word report about Janay Palmer Rice. For reasons we’ll explain below, we were surprised by the way she ended:
KANTOR (9/10/14): Karma Cottman, executive director of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she feared that public questioning of the couple's relationship could backfire for Ms. Rice. On Tuesday, women collected stories on how they left abusive relationships under the hashtag #whyileft.We were quite surprised by that highlighted passage. Here’s why:
When a new victim comes for help, Ms. Cottman said, ''the first thing we want to rush to say is, 'Why don't you leave, why don't you get out?' '' she said in an interview. But that's exactly the wrong approach, ''because isolation is part of the cycle of violence,'' Ms. Cottman said. ''Generally we see people five to seven times before they leave or have left for good.''
Take another case on the same football team: In 2012, Candace Williams, the girlfriend of another Ravens player, Terrell Suggs, filed a protective order against him claiming that he had punched her and dragged her alongside a car he was driving. Previously, she had accused him of pouring bleach on her and her son, and breaking her nose.
A few weeks later they wed. ''Last night I married my best friend and the love of my life,'' Mr. Suggs posted on Facebook.
Over the last three days, we’ve watched every showboat and his brother as they posture and showboat about the Rice matter. We’d seen no one say a word about that other matter, which sounds every bit as serious.
Beyond that, we live here in Baltimore. On the whole, we’re Ravens fans when they’re doing well, although we don’t follow local sports reporting and we root for the Patriots first.
Even as Baltimoreans, we had never heard a word about the Suggs matter. That’s what we mean when we say we’re unable to hold a discussion. We only do firestorms.
The Rice matter is this week’s national firestorm. On cable, everyone is very excited. Pundits are displaying their skill at repeating expected points.
Whatever you saw the last pundit say, the next pundit will say it too.
The discussions on cable have often been far less than bright. In the next few days, we’ll pointlessly cite a few basic points.
That said, it’s amazing to us that we had never heard a word about the Suggs matter. On cable, pundits are mentioning two other current NFL cases, those involving players for the 49ers and the Panthers.
That said, there has long been widespread incidence of abuse within the NFL. No discussion of that matter has ever taken shape.
Overnight, we’ve gone from complete disinterest in this topic to an all-enveloping national firestorm. And let’s state the obvious—cable is staging a national storm because it has some highly fearsome videotape to show.
There’s also this much larger point, from a slightly know-it-all column by Diana Reese in the Washington Post:
“Three women a day, on average, are killed by a boyfriend or husband in the United States. Where’s the Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness and money for this epidemic?”
Really? Three women per day are killed by a boyfriend or husband? Forget the lack of an Ice Bucket Challenge. Where was the discussion of that?
We’re currently having one of our national firestorms. It has pushed the last national firestorm down the back stairs to Hell.
On Morning Joe, the stars are posturing hard this week. That said, they were posturing and reciting last week too, during the last firestorm.
This afternoon, we’ll post Rhoden’s remarkable comment from Morning Joe. (It concerned a different topic.) It caused us to ask our favorite question:
Are we the humans able to reason? Are we able to reason at all?
UPDATE/Now that’s what we were talking about: Regarding the practice of repeating expected points, we just went to the Morning Joe site. The headline on today's first segment says this:
“Joe: Fault lies with Ray Rice”
Who but Joe could have figured that out? A nation whose leaders “reason” that way is a nation which can't hold discussions.