Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bill Conlin is not an anti-Semite…

I do not know who wrote that his remarks to Bill Baer were anti-Semitic or how he got that idea. Racism/anti-Semitism didn’t even register on my radar screen when I read his now notorious:

"The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called “Pamphleteers.” They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO. Shakespeare accidentally summed up the genre best with these words from a MacBeth soliloquy: “. . .a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. . .”

At any rate, here are some comments dealing with history from the readers at Crashburn Alley:

  • Wait a second. Weren’t those pamphleteers back from Colonial times also the ones who loudly supported and wrote articulate reasons supporting American Independence (Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, et al.)?
  • Ben Franklin wrote a pamphlet or two as well, but I’m sure Hitler would have gotten rid of him too.
  • By the way, does Conlin realize that the “Colonial pamphleteers” he’s comparing to bloggers were the ones who instigated and led the American Revolution? So he’s placing bloggers in the company of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton…and siding with Hitler and King George III.
  • Conlin probably needs a bit of a history lesson, as Hitler did get rid of pamphleteers, such as Sophie Scholl.
  • ... So he advocated wiping out bloggers? Just what has Conlin done to feel he’s the almighty?
  • ... not only that, he was comparing blogger to colonial pamphleteers, too. And what good did THEY ever do us, with their “throw off the shackles of the Crown” and their “these are the times that try men’s souls”? And really, what have THEY done for us lately?

What Conlin was advocating is more insidious that simple prejudice. The thing is, to target a race or ethnic group is asinine for the simple reason that people cannot choose their parents or the nationality of same. The purulence of Conlin’s opinions are far worse than simple drooling, slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging swing-set-too close-to-the-house, riding the short bus to school, phallucranial, testiculacking racism/anti-Semitism.

This is about freedom to think, believe, and speak as you wish. This isn’t singling out a single group but crossing every type of people. Conlin is stating that people whose thoughts do not line up with his own should be silenced. One can conclude by his remarks that he supports the decision of executing Sophie Scholl. Scholl had an opinion that was out of line with the philosophy encouraged in Germany during the time of the Third Reich. She differed from the accepted wisdom held by the authorities in the 1940’s and steps taken to ensure that her voice not be heard again.

Conlin, in an attempt to exercise damage control, manages to do the unthinkable; sound even more pompous than previously:

"I think I’ll let the words I wrote after the death of my dear friend and colleague, the former local Associated Press Bureau Chief Ralph Bernstein and the nearly half century relationship my wife and I have had with Ralph and his family through good times and bad represent me against any contrived and baseless attempt to slime me as an anti-Semite. I was a speaker at Ralph’s Memorial service. Quite obviously, the Hitler line was used in a satiric response to what has turned into a concerted assault on my Jimmy Rollins column and on my career. It was quite obviously used in a personal e-mail. I did not publish the insulting things said about me. As editor of the Temple University News in 1960-61, I received death threats from the White Citizens Council after writing an editorial denouncing Gerald L. K. Smith and his anti-black and anti-Semitic hate-mongering newspaper “The Cross and the Flag.” I was one of the most outspoken critics of Marge Schott’s blatant anti-Semitism to the point some of my columns had to be toned down. Ditto my stand on Al Campanis, a friend, by the way, and Jimmy The Greek Snyder. I also had a long and close relationship with the late, great Dick Schaap, who wrote about my impact on The Sports Reporters at length in his autobiography, “Flashing Before My Eyes.” I am heartened that both a clear conscience and the First Amendment will be at my side.”

Out of one side of his mouth, he wishes to silence the free and open expression of ideas and out of the other side, he wraps himself up in the First Amendment. What he is saying is that freedom of expression should be limited to those who think and feel as he does. For those in accord with his thought-process deserve First Amendment rights, for those who differ--a visit with Johann Reichhart for a demonstration of his deadly skills.

What he fails to address in his ‘defense’ is that few were calling him racist/anti-Semitic. The issue is his denying basic rights to those of differing points of view. Where the Third Reich was noted for book burning, Conlin is advocating blog-burning. If certain ideas conflicts with his view of how things are then those writings should be destroyed and the persons penning/typing those opinions should be silenced.

A man who demands First Amendment rights and uses that platform to suggest denying those same rights to others should not be employed by a medium where exercise of those (rights) is deemed necessary. It is a contradiction, once a group is denied those protections then that freedom no longer exists. We are either free or we are not; Conlin is advocating “not” since his freedom is protected on the basis of his choice of employment. His ideals are the reason behind men like Thomas Paine, Sophie Scholl, and Alexander Hamilton etc.

Conlin also wrote “It was quite obviously used in a personal e-mail.” This tells us that since he felt his opinion would not be made public, he could indulge his desire to deny dissenting points-of-view a place is contemporary society.

This is beyond a debate about sabermetrics and traditional statistical measurements. It is about a man who feels fully qualified about playing the role of judge, jury and executioner as well as the standard-bearer of what is acceptable thought. It is far, far, more disturbing than simple prejudice. He has said in effect that rights and protections are to be only conferred on those who think and feel as he does.

Those who demand First Amendment rights and protections should defend those rights and protections, to do otherwise is to urinate upon everyone who has fought threats to those freedoms from outside and within.

I just hope Bill Conlin remembered to zip up and wash his hands after he finished doing just that.

Best Regards



Bill B. said...

I honestly felt like I was on a slide at a playground reading this. The transitions between your analogies and realities were seamless.

Even when you're not baseballing, you still make your articles fun to read.

On a serious note, am I wrong for feeling an ounce of remorse for all of this wildfire all centralizing towards Conlin? I guess that's my humanitarian side showing.

John Brattain said...

Thanks for the props.

I don’t think you need feel any remorse. If Conlin takes a step back and re-assesses his feeling towards bloggers, perhaps he’ll understand that you don’t need a degree, or a certain profession to have something worthwhile to say.

Perhaps the firestorm may help him realize that the price of freedom of expression is reading things that disagree with your world-view. After all, isn’t education about challenging what you thought to be true? A two-year old thinks it’s perfectly natural to relieve himself in his clothes, a 15 year old believes in love at first sight and happily ever after, an 18-year-old feels that his peers can give him better advice than somebody with more experience in life.

Our brain is a muscle, either we’re making it stronger or allowing it to weaken. The person who feels they know everything will become stupider because he refuses to add to what he knows; he will be bypassed by those who feel there is much to learn--a degree doesn’t change this truism anymore than winning Mr. America at age 25 means you’ll still be buff at 50. However, a guy off the street who looks after himself throughout his life will look better at the beach than the former Mr. America who stopped exercising after he won.

You’re giving Bill Conlin a chance to exercise his brain--no need to feel bad about that. If he realizes that he can still learn from others, he will be that much better at what he does.

Best Regards


Travis said...

I sent Conlin an email about ten years ago about an article he wrote comparing the ‘97 Phillies to the ‘97 Yankees - a real stretch - full of anectodal “evidence” and unmeasureable bullshit. He never responded. I’m not sure he knew what email was at the time. Or the Internet, for that matter. At least Baer got a response. Lots of them.

The thing about his Hitler comment that I find sort of morbidly amusing is not that his statement suggests that he is an anti-Semite (it doesn’t) but that HE WISHES THAT SOMEONE WOULD KILL ALL THE BLOGGERS!! I mean, isn’t that bad enough?! Forget whether or not he likes the 12 million Jews in the world! (Well, don’t forget it, exactly, but that’s not what he meant anyway.) They’re small potatoes compared to the literally billions of people in the blogosphere! That alone should be enough to get the man fired.

And if not that, then the fact that he has absolutely no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

Thomas Paine said...

Can't believe I have to point this out but Conlin doesn't really wish someone would kill all the bloggers. Get the sticks out of your butts.

John Brattain said...

No sticks, just logs.

However I doubt he wants to kill bloggers ... just unplug their modems.

Welcome to -- the favoured tool of oppression in our wired world.

Best Regards


P.S. Don't click the link.