Sunday, June 24, 2012

Home Run Derbies

I read something in the Sun today that implied someone had really come out of his shell and taken a stand when he drafted a statement condemning the vandalism incident that took place early this year at Babylon Restaurant on Merrimack Street.  Apparently, he had vaulted forth from backbencher status within UML student government to a more serious role with the "Big Mo" that came from the statement.

Never mind that people who are professionally trained to figure these sorts of things out (and have years of experience doing so) have long since determined that the incident was the handiwork of a lone idiot/vandal from New Hampshire who had no idea what was actually in the storefront upon which he decided to leave his mark.

Back to the original issue -- although I obviously agree with the content of the condemnation statement, I can only give so much props to anyone who advocates for something that no one opposes.  In other words, if people were out celebrating that incident, and calling for repeat rock tosses, then yes, character would be at stake and it would be a marker of moral courage to get up and put those people in their place.  Absent that, however, it seems kind of like condemning the woman about to be charged for attempted murder on Branch Street -- but of course.

After a recent Council meeting in which there were a series of emotional speeches preceding what would clearly be a 9-0 vote, I was searching for a term for these sorts of things, and settled on "Home Run Derby."  Why?

Because everyone can get up, take their cuts for the fence in Barry Bonds-ahead-of-the-count-and-nothing-to-lose fashion, while the pitches are coming in straight to the wheelhouse and no one is playing defense.

Please please please don't get me wrong:  Vandalism is bad, and ethnically-targeted vandalism (or at least what was originally the appearance thereof) is even worse.  But while I'm at it, education is good, the environment is good, college costs should be contained, public servants should behave professionally, and the Constitution is a great document.

You can draft resolutions saying all those things, and yes, you're on record taking a stand, just like you would be if you were advocating for family-based daycare zoning in downtown Lowell (which passed unanimously, and was only an issue based on a zoning quirk which needed to be fixed, but not because anyone opposed it), an Immigration Assistance Commission (two hours of speeches to precede a 9-0 vote), or anything else of that nature.  Just as I would for someone whose resume said they managed the re-election campaign of an unopposed Statehouse incumbent, I recognize the feather in the cap for someone going 'on the record' to take a cut towards the bleachers, but only for about a second or so before moving on to something more interesting.

Posting 95 Theses to the door is what I'm talking about.  For a much more modern example, President Obama's recent statement about gay marriage is what I'm talking about -- by tacking to a stance that many people oppose (and taking a political risk that could hurt him in some states he carried in 2008), he put a stake in the ground and stood by it.  History shows that the people we call "visionaries" after the fact were saying or doing something that drew vehement criticism from at least some quarters as it was happening.

As Jim Rome said, if you want to be interesting: a) have a take; and b) don't suck.  If you stand up to say things like, "The environment is good," or that "racism is bad," or that "veterans are important," you haven't even made it to the second part of Rome's equation.  

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...


Regards  —  Cliff