Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus + Rocker = Pearlman

Once again exposes us to their columnist version of Gollum, hate-filled narcissist Jeff Pearlman. And once again Pearlman is radiating stupidity, leaving all who are exposed to his column just a little bit poorer for the experience.

Just to review, in the past Mr. Pearlman has:

written expansively (and poorly) about how he hates Barry Bonds (also available in paperback!).

written expansively (and poorly) about how he hates John Rocker (with pretty good reason, one might add).

written expansively (and poorly) about how athletes should stay out of politics, except for the ones who receive Pearlman’s “Good Thoughtkeeping” seal of approval (which devolves into a diatribe against Christians).

written expansively (and poorly) about how intolerant athletes are against gays (which again devolves into a diatribe against Christians).

Today we’re treated to an expansive (and poorly written) diatribe about how Bonds will cheapen the memory of Jackie Robinson by wearing #42 (which, surprisingly enough, does not devolve into a diatribe against Christians).

Leave aside the rich, post-Imus irony of a white guy telling a black guy how to honor the sacrifices of his black forerunners, and forget for a moment Pearlman’s concerted efforts to demonize Bonds, and consider the crux of Pearlman’s aggravation at Bonds wearing Robinson’s number:

Now in his 22nd major league season, Bonds' track record in areas of race and sports is, to be polite, abysmal.
Bonds hasn’t done enough, in Pearlman’s opinion, to help black people. No word on whether or not the other black ballplayers in MLB pass muster with Pearlman for their track records; one must assume that they do, since they are spared criticism.

As evidence of Bonds’ crimes against his race, Pearlman trots out only one piece of damning evidence: Bonds once (gasp! horror!) supported “ultra-Conservative” Republican Pete Wilson for governor of California.

But there’s no further proof from lazy Pearlman, only some anecdotal evidence that Bonds is, at worst, selfish and doesn’t help anybody. You could even call Bonds egalitarian in the way that he doesn’t let race impact his self-absorption and he blows off pretty much everybody regardless of age, race, or gender.

I’ll let Pearlman, in high dudgeon now, express his distress:

So, again, how does Bonds break the all-time home run record with a straight face? How can he speak of "the great Hank Aaron" (as he does) while doing everything in his power to expunge his name from the record books?

What would Hysterical J have him do? Stop short of the home run record out of respect? Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron is no more an effort to “expunge his name” than when Aaron passed Ruth. We can degrade Bonds’ achievement because of the steroids issue, and that is a legitimate discussion. But that’s not the argument Pearlman makes! Pearlman’s argument is that Bonds hasn’t “earned” the honor of #42 by taking enough appropriate actions on behalf of other black athletes.

Bonds, to mercifully shorten Pearlman’s thesis, isn’t a good enough black person to wear Robinson’s number. I wonder what Jackie Robinson would have thought about that viewpoint, that there are black people who are worthy to honor him and those who aren’t? I wonder if there are any terms for this kind of thinking, perhaps one that starts with “R”?

Now let’s check out the third link above, where Pearlman weighs in on which group he feels is least qualified to lead society:

But when push comes to shove, no population in society is less qualified to guide voters than pro athletes. Not doctors, not lawyers, not garbagemen, dogcatchers, dishwashers, librarians, sportswriters -- no one. Unlike, say, normal people, America's professional sports stars reside in a universe that is pure Fantasy Island.

Pearlman is pillorying Bonds for not following Pearlman’s own advice! I think this is called a catch-22, but I’m not sure if that term is appropriate here. Rampant hypocrisy might fit better.

The fact is Pearlman doesn’t like Bonds, so he issues this denunciation with shotgun-precision insults designed to make us feel that Bonds is a loutish, awful brute. Bonds’ real crime, and the real crime for most of Pearlman’s targets, is that he disagrees with Pearlman. And this font of wisdom will not suffer disagreement lightly.

Which is what really irks me about Pearlman: a common theme is his grudge against athletes, Christians, Barry Bonds, Republicans, John Rocker, sportswriters, and a host of other inappropriate groups because they’re not tolerant enough. But Pearlman himself is an archetype of intolerance and bigotry through his habitual and reflexive anti-Christian slander. It’s in these thoughtless caricatures that Pearlman truly reveals the depth and wisdom of his soul.

Which is why it’s fitting that Pearlman is forever linked with Rocker. They share the same frame of mind, even if they don’t agree on some of the particulars.