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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

The NFL is still taking heat over domestic abuse problems.  And, they should take heat for it.  As they struggle to get a grip on the problem, basically their perceived problem of bad publicity, they continue to show just how inconsistent their policies on this issue really are.  As you all know by now, Adrian Peterson was charged with negligent injury of a child for using a switch on his 4 year old son to discipline him.  An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday.  He voluntarily turned himself into law enforcement.  The Minnesota Vikings deactivated him for Sunday’s game.  But, they have reactivated him this week.

As usual, the NFL has done nothing yet.  Besides doing nothing, the NFL hasn’t even said a word about it.  They are apparently “investigating” the situation before making any announcement.  Ray Rice is still suspended indefinitely, but he filed an appeal yesterday.  In these two cases, the league is standing behind their “due process” language saying they really can’t do much until due process has been completed.  There is another case in San Francisco against a 49er player for domestic abuse as well who played on Sunday night against the Bears.

Even if we buy into the “due process” argument, how can the NFL use that argument with Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers?  Greg Hardy was accused of choking his then girlfriend and drug her around by the hair and threatened to kill her.  Hardy was “convicted” in a one day bench trail in Charlotte.  He received 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors he was charged with.  He is appealing the decision and asking for a trial by jury.  Yet, the Carolina Panthers waited until the last-minute to deactivate him.  Even though he was deactivated to play Sunday, he was still paid by the team.

The Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, while accepting a civic award last week, began to cry while speaking about domestic violence.  “When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple,” he told the audience in Charlotte. “To those who would suggest we’ve been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to judge.”  At that time, Hardy was still eligible to play.

What is the major difference in all of these cases?  The Ray Rice incident had video.  The Adrian Peterson incident has pictures and tweets from Peterson.  The Hardy case and the one in San Francisco have neither video or pictures or tweets.  As a result, the NFL can hide behind their “due process” garbage without too much public outrage because there isn’t anything to show what happened.

I was particularly struck watching the pre-game shows on Sunday.  The one I was really interested in was the NBC pre-game show because it had Tony Dungy on it.  Dungy talked about how he “asked his players to be honest with him” when he had situations come up with Colts players.  He bragged about how they let one player go and punished another.  If I had been able to ask a question of him, I would have asked about the “distractions” these cases brought to the team.  Remember, Dungy said he would not draft an openly gay player because he didn’t want to put up with the “distractions” that would bring.

On Monday night football on ESPN, they had the audacity to question Ray Lewis about his thoughts about domestic violence.  I say the audacity because it was Ray Lewis, former player for the Ravens, who was wrapped up in a murder one Super Bowl Sunday.  He only escaped being part of the defense in an agreement to testify against those involved.  I would think that would sort of disqualify his opinion on domestic violence.

When it comes to handling social issues, this conflict shows exactly why the NFL can’t seem to handle these problems.  The NFL is not alone in this problem either.  They have a very willing partner in the NFLPA.  The NFLPA is very willing to negotiate punishments in their contract for things like drug use or performance enhancing drugs, yet they are loathsome to negotiate punishments for Domestic Violence.  The NFLPA is backing Ray Rice in his appeal and have remained silent on the Hardy incident, as well as others.

It has been suggested that any player who is arrested for domestic violence be deactivated, with pay, throughout the “due process”.  That is an idea that I support.  Players should not be allowed to participate in activities until their cases are resolved one way or the other.  By deactivating them they do not lose any money.  That takes away the argument of punishing them before their case is resolved.

But, in the Hardy case, there already has been a conviction.  So why is the NFL dragging its feet?  “If the NFL is saying there hasn’t been disposition (of the case), I think they’re ducking the issue,” Belmont Abbey law professor Steve Ward told Sports Illustrated. Ward, who is a former prosecutor in Charlotte, North Carolina, told SI that fewer than 5% of bench trials are appealed and Hardy is manipulating the system.

We all know that football is a violent sport.  But, that does not mean that it needs to be filled with men who abuse their family members.  The type of violence on the football field is not comparative to domestic violence.  Beating someone up is hardly the same as tackling a running back.  The league has a long roster of players who are what some would call “model citizens.”  It is this majority of players that are being disrespected by the NFL and the NFLPA.

The NFL and the NFLPA are going to keep their heads in the sand on this issue simply because deactivating these players, some of whom are vital pieces of their teams success, will only hurt the bottom line of their product.  And, until sponsors start saying enough is enough, the league will continue it pathetic path of inconsistent policy in these matters.

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As usual, in an election year, we are faced with an onslaught of political ads on TV and Radio.  These ads don’t necessarily “support” a candidate, they just go after one of the candidates in the race.  Meaning the ad is something for the other candidate.  However, the ads aren’t being run by a political party.  They are being produced and paid for by Political Action Committees.  The biggest problem with a PAC is that they don’t have to say from where or whom they get their money.

As we all know, this is called “dark money.”  In fairness, both sides use PACs to help their candidates.  However, there are far more “conservative” PACs than “liberal” ones.  Of course, most leaders of corporations are Republican because they want the “free market” system.  As a result, Democratic candidates are usually at a disadvantage in raising money because they have to fight their opponent and the PACs.

The Citizen United decision by the Supreme Court has made it extremely easy for corporations and/or other rich business people to literally “buy” an election.  And, they can do it in total anonymity.  The PACs don’t have to list their donors.  My question to this is why?  Why is it so important for people to be able to donate money without saying who they are giving to?  Is it possible that they are hiding something?

Now we get to an interesting thing.  The SEC has been looking into a new rule that would make it mandatory for all publicly traded corporations to release to their shareholders their political spending.  The rule first came up in a petition in 2011.  The SEC has held the rule open for public comment.  As of this month  more than 1 million comments — most of them in favor of the mandate have been received.

Thanks to that pressure, the Center for Political Accountability reports “almost 70 percent of companies in the top echelons of the S&P 500 are now disclosing political spending made directly to candidates, parties and committees,” and “almost one out of every two companies in the top echelons of the S&P 500 has opened up about payments made to trade associations.” The center calls that a dramatic increase from a decade ago when “few, if any, companies disclosed their political spending.”

However, the new rule would make such disclosure mandatory not voluntary.  This brings us to another question.  The Republicans have already passed laws that allow union members to “opt out” of having their dues used for political activity by the union.  If unions cannot use money from members who “opt out”, why can’t shareholders have the same option of opting out?  Why is it okay for corporations to hide their political activities from shareholders, and unions cannot?  Would the answer be because unions generally support Democrats and corporations generally support Republicans?

Let’s take this another step further.  Suppose you are a very good customer of a business.  If this SEC Rule becomes law, you discover that the business you have supported with your spending supports political issues that are against your beliefs.  Shouldn’t you have the right to take your business elsewhere to a business that more reflects your beliefs?  If dark money is allowed to continue, how can we make such decisions?

There has been a huge backlash against Burger King recently.  It has nothing to do with politics, but rather their intention to move their corporate headquarters to Canada in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.  That type of business decision is made public by law.  Shouldn’t the political choices of corporations also be made public?

I know that most people do not make their purchase decisions based on political beliefs.  If that were the case, WalMart would probably be out of business.  But, the fact that these corporations are allowed to hide their political activity flies in the face of open democratic governance.  If the Supreme Court says that money donation is a form of free speech, there is no reason to hide who is donating it and to whom they are donating.

Of course, there are a lot of people opposed to this new rule.  Mostly groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Those lobbying groups represent corporations that would have to disclose their political spending under the new rule — including the budget spent on those lobbying groups themselves.   As a result of pressure from these groups, the SEC has taken the new rule off of their agenda.  Meaning it will be a lot longer before any decision is made, if any.

The reason this rule is important is because it could be the first shot to end dark money.  The right is full of conspiracy theories.  The one conspiracy theory they seem to ignore is the fact that “dark money” allows billionaires to purchase candidates without being caught.  What could be more un-American than holding shady elections where candidates are for sale?

This new rule should become law.  Furthermore, I believe that this rule should apply to all companies whether or not they are publicly traded.  Customers have a right to know who the company is donating money to as well.  Whether you are a large corporation like Koch Industries or a small mom and pop shop on the corner.  After all, history has shown that only those trying to overthrow a government need secrecy!

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I am going to not talk about Roger Goodell and his decisions concerning Ray Rice.  As you probably know, the Commissioner has given Ray Rice an indefinite suspension and the Baltimore Ravens have cut Ray Rice from the team.  All of this comes after the release of a second video, one inside the elevator showing Rice punching Janay Palmer, now Janay Rice.

Who saw what video and when is the question that everyone is asking.  The original two game suspension raised enough questions about how the NFL handles cases of domestic violence.  This new “evidence” only raises new questions.  On top of all of this, there are those who either reject Ray Rice for the violent domestic abuser he is, to those who defend him.  I honestly cannot believe that anyone in their right minds can defend Rice, but there are those who do.

What everyone is totally missing in this case is the fact that the video actually shows just how vicious domestic violence really is.  It further shows that when domestic violence happens, it is the victim who is questioned most by authorities, not the offender.  Questions usually begin with “what did you do to provoke the attack?”  That is not made up.  I have heard police ask that question myself.  I wanted to punch the officer who asked it, if truth be told.

There are other consequences that no one seems to be talking about.  When a woman is trapped in a domestic violence relationship, it is more than just the physical battering, which is undefendable in itself.  It is also a mental battering that the woman must endure.  Women face depression.  They face fear all of the time.  They fear not only for themselves, but for their children, if any.  It is a vicious cycle that never ends for the victim.

A lot of people who have never been exposed to such violence, or don’t know anyone who is victimized don’t understand why a woman will continue in a relationship with the batterer.  If you really want to see things as they are, go to the twitter feed #whyistayed to discover the reasons women give for staying in the relationship.  If you think the video was sickening, you really need to read these comments.

One of the most sickening reasons I read was a woman who said she stayed in her abusive relationship because the pastor of her church told her “god hates divorce.”  If I had been around, I would have asked that jerk if god loves beating the shit out of women?

There are many reasons women stay in these relationships.  Some experts call it “battered wife syndrome.”  The fact is that for whatever reason, the woman believes they have no alternative but to stay in the relationship.  You can usually tell just by looking at their faces when you get them to talk about the abuse they are suffering.

Yesterday after everything went down, Janay Rice tweeted the following:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” Palmer wrote. “If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels.  Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!”

Now, I am not going to question Janay Rice or her comments.  But, I have seen and heard this type of reaction before.  Here is a woman who is the victim of a vicious attack by her then fiancé, and she is putting the blame somewhere else.  That is typical behavior in these cases.

At “mensrights” idiots are saying that Rice was simply defending himself from an attack from Janay.  Of course, that is ridiculous.  When Janay Rice was punched, her head hit the rail in the elevator.  She could have died from this attack.  But, the part that really shows just how unaffected Rice was, was how he casually dragged her body from the elevator when the door opened.  If Rice had any real concern for her welfare, he would have pushed the emergency button in the elevator and asked for an ambulance to assist her.  He didn’t!

Or, you could look at the press conference the Baltimore Ravens held for Rice after his initial two-game suspension was handed out.  The Ravens were brazen enough to have Janay Rice sitting next to her husband.  She even said “I want to apologize for my part in this incident.”  I often wondered exactly who wrote those words for her.

I don’t know if Rice owns a gun.  But all too often, these domestic violence cases turn to murder if a gun is present in the home.  You don’t have to take my word for it either, there are plenty of statistics that prove this point.  Yet, the problem of domestic violence is all too often simply swept under the carpet by law enforcement and the courts.

This is not just and NFL problem.  It is a societal problem.  When victims are accused of “instigating” their own beatings, how can there be any justice?  How can the District Attorney who prosecuted this case in Atlantic City claim that no jail time was the proper justice for an aggravated felony assault?  We know that he had the video in the elevator.  Plus, he also was aware that Rice admitted punching Janay Rice in the face.  Yet he let him slide.

The scars the victims of domestic abuse carry last for years.  Sometimes, they never get over them.  Women don’t trust another partner.  I can hardly blame them for their distrust.  The real problem, and one that never seems to be talked about, is the fact that children who grow up in an abusive environment tend to become abusers themselves.

Domestic violence is a barbaric act that cannot be defended.  In real terms, it is the true definition of “domestic terrorism” that can be found.  I know what this does to women.  My wife was married before me.  She was a victim of domestic abuse.  It took me over twenty years to help heal most of the scars from that experience.  There are some scars that I know will never heal.

It is this vicious cycle that forces the government to pass legislation like the Violence Against Women Act.  Even then, there are those who opposed a simple bill like that.  The real sad part is that many women in Congress voted against it.  How can they justify their belief that it is unnecessary?  Especially, after seeing this sickening video.

This horrible situation is caused by the insistence that “men act like men.”  That phrase turns my stomach because it is saying that men are entitled to behave like the proverbial caveman.  All of this stupid machismo that is portrayed as “being a real man” is total bullshit!  It is also caused by the sick belief of many in the conservative Christian cult that women are subordinate to men.  That too is bullshit!

The real shame is that as long as society, especially men, condone this barbaric attitude about men, this problem will not go away.  And, that is the fault of any man who defends such behavior!

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There was a time just a short fifty years ago when the middle-class prospered.  It was a time when workers were protected and safety regulations were put in place.  Middle-class wages were rising, and injuries and death at the workplace went down.  The reason was very simply the unions.  Unions gave workers a voice at the table.  They helped usher in safety regulations.  They actually benefited the middle-class.

Then the Republicans started their campaign against unions.  They argued that it was the unions that were shipping jobs overseas by demanding a fair and livable wage for the workers.  They argued that all of the safety restrictions were actually hurting companies and keeping them from making money.  They said companies know what’s best for everyone.

So, what happens when corporations are allowed to regulate themselves?  We often hear Republicans complain about too much regulation on the part of the Federal Government.  They argue that companies and industries should be allowed to regulate themselves since these companies and industries “know better what needs to be done.”  As a result, there are a lot of industries that have fallen under the radar when it comes to regulations.

One example is the Electric Industry.  Specifically those companies that burn coal to make their electricity.  The by-product known as coal ash is mostly unregulated by the Federal Government.  As a result, the companies handle the coal ash as they see fit.  Mostly they are held in ponds, or empty mines.  The unfortunate side of coal ash is that it contains many toxic agents including arsenic.  These toxins have been proven to be hazardous to individual health.

In Ohio, 77 workers for American Electric are suing the company for failing to provide proper safety equipment while working with coal ash.  They state in their complaint:  “Repeatedly, individuals were not provided with protective equipment, such as overalls, gloves or respirators when working in and around coal waste,” the lawsuit says. “These working men and women, already exposed to the contaminants at the job site, then, in turn, carried the coal waste home to their families on their clothes and shoes, thus even exposing family members to the deadly toxins.”

In the complaint, the plaintiffs claim that they asked supervisor Doug Workman whether or not it was safe to work with coal ash. “By sticking his finger into the coal waste and then placing his fly-ash covered finger into his own mouth,” the lawsuit reads, ” [Workman] then misrepresented to the working direct claim plaintiffs that coal waste was ‘safe enough to eat.’”

Workers at the Gavin landfill in North Cheshire, Ohio were allegedly told that coal ash was only a mixture of “water and lime,” and that it contained “such low levels of arsenic, it made no difference.” The workers were allegedly told that “lime neutralizes the arsenic,” according to the [West Virginia] Record’s report.

The lawsuit offers a different argument.  “Coal waste contains a multitude of contaminants that are dangerous to human health, and individuals can be exposed through contact on skin, inhalation and ingestion,” it reads. “These toxins have been shown to be directly related to incidences of cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease, chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects, among others.” In addition, the physician-led organization Physicians for Social Responsibility states that coal ash toxics “have the potential to injure all of the major organ systems, damage physical health and development, and even contribute to mortality.”

In North Carolina this year tons of coal ash were dumped into the Dan River.  A few months later another “dumping” took lace in another river in North Carolina.  Since the state has control over the clean up, there are still tons of coal ash that have never been cleaned up and never will be.  The State argues that everything is just fine.  I wonder if that is because the current Governor is a former employee of Duke Energy who was responsible for both spills.

So as we can see, self-regulation does not work.  In Ohio, workers were refused the proper safety equipment needed to protect themselves and their families from these toxins.  In North Carolina millions of people are wondering if their drinking water is really safe to drink.  Yet, Republicans tell us that everything is just fine.  All we need to do is allow these companies to continue regulating themselves, and the world will be peachy!  That is one of the biggest problems we will face should the Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress.

The Republicans are marching us swiftly back to the 1890s when companies ran the country.  When workers were simple pawns of the rich to make more millions for themselves.  When it was just fine to allow millions of workers to die making money for their bosses.  These are the kinds of things that unions helped eliminate.  Plus, middle-class Americans prospered more when unions helped protect workers.  Why do you think  Republicans hate unions so much?

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On August 15, 2014 a Texas Grand Jury indicted Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts.  These charges have nothing to do with bribery, as the Governor said he thought while speaking in New Hampshire.  They are basically an abuse of power charge against the Governor.  It happened something like this.

Rosemary Lehmberg the Travis County District Attorney with the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office was arrested and convicted with DWI.  This outraged the Governor so bad, he publicly threatened to veto the funding for the Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned her post.  When Lehmberg refused to resign, he did veto the funding for her unit.

Lehmberg is a Democrat who was elected by the Travis County electorate.  Coincidently, the Public Integrity Unit was investigating some of Perry’s cronies at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas at the time he sought to force her out, and replace her with his own appointee.

Let us be clear.  Texas is a Red State.  Travis County on the other hand is a Blue and progressive County.  So, the national media immediately painted this as “sour grapes” and declared the indictment as frivolous.  But there are some things that have not been clearly reported by the national press.

Even though Travis County is a Democratic county, there were no Democrats involved in the case.  The Grand Jury was called by McCrum, a respected conservative former federal prosecutor.  Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison once recommended McCrum for the job of U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. McCrum could have dismissed the complaint. Instead, he took it to a grand jury.

Even before McCrum was appointed, the case went before two Republican judges who could have dismissed the case before it even started.  Neither of these judges saw fit to dismiss the case, and the second judge was the one who appointed McCrum as Special Prosecutor.

Another issue in this case is that Perry remained silent when two different Republican district attorneys were previously convicted of DWI.  One hit another vehicle and it was his second offense.  But, Perry didn’t see any need for them to step down from office.  So, why all of the outrage in this case?

Some, even on the left, are saying the indictment is an attack on the Governor’s right to veto.  That is not the true anymore than if the Governor vetoed a bill in receipt of a bribe.  As it was said, you may have the right to vote, but you don’t have the right to “sell” your vote.  Using a veto threat in order to force a public official to resign is just as egregious.

It is fascinating to see the national media kind of blow off this indictment as political games, while the two biggest papers in Texas are taking the charges very seriously.   Jeff Cohen, of the Houston Chronicle, and Keven Ann Willey, of the Dallas Morning News, the state’s two largest dailies, both of which have editorialized in support of seeing the investigation proceed:

The Chronicle wrote that the indictments “suggest that the longest-serving governor in Texas history has grown too accustomed to getting his way when it comes to making sure that virtually every key position in state government is occupied by a Perry loyalist.” The Morning News editorial board stated: “It’s in every Texan’s best interests for the charges against Perry, whatever your view of them, to traverse the entire judicial system as impartially as possible.”

Investigative journalism is supposed to be the keystone of the media.  Unfortunately, the national media doesn’t seem to be very interested in that process anymore.  Investigative journalism costs money and is expensive to produce.  The national media seems more interested in sound bites that are less expensive to produce, but still bring in ratings and money.

If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we may have never gotten to the bottom of Watergate.  I am not comparing this to Watergate, but the lack of investigative journalism by national media is puzzling at best.  Before any judgement of this case is made by media and/or pundits, we must let the case run its course.  It may turn out that Perry will win the case and be cleared of any wrongdoing.  On the other hand, a Grand Jury in his own state determined there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

I guess if we really want to know the exact nature of the case we will have to depend on local Texas reports and not the national media.

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So, the first week of the NFL is getting ready to kick off.  It seems that the whole country is ready for some football.  Unfortunately, there are shadows looming over the NFL this year.  And, it appears these shadows are getting worse each year.  The number of suspensions are extremely high, and nothing seems to be getting done about changing the culture of the NFL.

The San Francisco 49s has probably the most suspensions of any team in the league.  I believe they have 3 or 4 players facing suspensions.  And, then today, it was announced that Wes Welker, of the Denver Broncos, is being suspended for four games for violating the drug policy.  Of course, Welker maintains his innocence and claims that the drug testing procedures in the NFL are flawed.

In Dallas a player who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter has applied for reinstatement.  The league has said that he can return, but he must first face a 10 game suspension.  Naturally, he is going to appeal this suspension.  The star running back for the Baltimore Ravens was handed a two game suspension for domestic violence.  This week the league announced new rules for domestic violence saying they would hand out a six game suspension for a first time offender and a lifetime ban for a second offense.  Of course, the lifetime ban can be appealed after one year.

Just four days later, another player was arrested for domestic violence.  He has said “the truth will come out”.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear someone in his position say “the truth will come out”, I keep thinking that the victim will ultimately be blamed for his behavior.

The owner of the Indianapolis Colts has been suspended 6 games and fined $500,000 for his conviction of driving under the influence.  The conviction was a plea bargain and is considered a misdemeanor in Indiana.

Michael Sam was cut by the Rams over the weekend.  Some argue that he was simply playing the wrong position on a team that is full of defensive ends.  Others claim that he was cut because he is openly gay.  I don’t know the real reason for his being cut.  I would hope that it was football related.  But when you consider that every player who was even close to his numbers in pre-season is still with their team, it does make one wonder the real reason for his being cut.  The Dallas Cowboys apparently want him for their practice squad, so we will see what happens from here.

Finally, the Washington Football team is under fire for its nickname.  Many Native Americans are offended by the nickname that has only been used as a racial slur for a few hundred years now.  The owner of the team claims it is a respectful name and doesn’t understand why there is an outcry to have it changed.  Of course, pundits say it is merely politically correct “idiots” who find offense to the name.

So, the number one sport in America is getting ready to start the season.  Yet, there are a lot of questions hanging over the league and its culture.  This culture is nothing new either.  In the past, there have been players accused of murder.  Players were arrested for illegally carrying guns.  Players were suspended because they accidentally shot themselves carrying guns.

To put all of the blame on the NFL is unfair.  The blame goes well beyond the NFL.  It goes to the culture that America has in “entitling” athletes and allowing them to basically get away with it.  Remember a few years ago when some high school players were convicted of raping a classmate?  At least one of those players is back on the football team today.

A prominent football quarterback at a major university was accused of rape last year.  When everything was revealed, it was noted that the police didn’t want to press charges and thought the case shouldn’t have been brought.  They were even quoted as telling the victim that pressing charges would cause her more harm because of the football culture in the town and state.  The whole case was bungled, and the player did not have to answer to the charges.

Football is not alone in all of this either.  Other sports have either had similar problems, or are going through some of them right now too.  I remember when the NBA almost shut down.  I know a lot of people never believed that it would actually close, but the public relations between the NBA and its fans took a horrible hit.

As a matter of fact, back in the 70s, a lot of people considered the NBA nothing but street gangs in shorts.  Some are beginning to wonder if the NFL is nothing but a bunch of street gangs in pads.  That is really an unfair analysis.  Once again, the few who cheat or feel entitled to do whatever they want because they can play football is overshadowing the rest of the players in the league.  I must admit though, that it is those other players who are remaining mute to these scandals that help keep them going.

Baseball had a steroid problem.  Between steroids and human growth hormones, the game was being hijacked by the cheaters.  The only reason this has been at least reduced is because the non-cheaters in the league had enough.  They fought back against the cheaters and it was the players themselves that forced the drug testing and stricter suspensions we now see in baseball.  It wasn’t the congressional hearings that forced baseball’s hand, it was its own players.

When baseball decided to find out how prevalent performance enhancing drugs actually was in the sport, they decided to test all players during spring training.  If the total of “dirty” players was above a certain amount, I believe that it was 5%, mandatory drug testing would be put in place.  If a player refused to take the test, it would count as a positive.  The Chicago White Sox held a team meeting and every player on the team said they would refuse the test so they would ensure the results were above the limit and force mandatory testing.

I find it amazing that sports networks all have “discussions” about whether or not a suspension is appropriate or not.  ESPN is among the most famous for their discussions.  Yet, this is the very network that thought it was appropriate to discuss Michael Sam’s “showering” experiences while with the Rams.

We can argue that lifetime bans should be imposed for various crimes, especially domestic violence.  But, until the players themselves start a backlash that helped baseball, this problem is not going to go away anytime soon.  Until players see beyond their “entitlement” to play football, nothing will ever get fixed.  Until players actually state they will not play with a “dirty” or “repeat offender”, there is nothing that the league really can do.

Teamwork is crucial in football and other sports.  But, teamwork does not end at the sidelines of the playing field.  It should extend beyond the field and into everyday life as well.  Players need to police themselves.  They need to start taking responsibility for their profession and start eliminating those who taint the product.  The players need to stop enabling other players in their bad practices.

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It is time to ask a very simple question.  At what point or age should children be allowed to participate at shooting ranges?  This is not about whether or not people have the right to shoot guns at shooting ranges.  It is more about the safety of children at shooting ranges.  We have laws in this country that says when a person is allowed to vote, drive a vehicle, or drink alcohol.  Most states even have an age limit when a person can own a firearm.

So, we need to question at what age we should allow children to attend and participate in the firing of guns.  In the last few weeks, we have had a couple of incidents of children either being injured at shooting ranges or killing an instructor.  It is common sense to be asking when children have the capability to fire a gun safely.

In the first incident, a 9-year-old child accidentally killed a shooting instructor in Arizona.  The child was firing an Uzi.  That is right, a 9-year-old child was actually firing an Uzi.  The gun’s kickback was too severe for the child to handle and the gun moved up and outward and she shot and killed the instructor.

In the second incident, a family had put together their own shooting range in California.  The whole family was present.  a 7-year-old and his father were each shooting single shot .22 caliber rifles.  Suddenly, the boy grabbed his chest and complained about pain.  When the father checked his son, he discovered that he had been hit in the chest.

Turns out that the boy was hit by a piece of a bullet that ricocheted off of something on the range and struck the boy in the chest.  Fortunately, it is reported that the boy will survive his wounds.  From all accounts the father and the boy were exercising caution during the shooting.  Their guns were pointed down range at all times.  This was a tragic accident.

But, it does bring us back to the original question.  When is it appropriate to have children at and participating at shooting ranges?  I guess the second question would be what “codes” are required for shooting ranges?  The second incident took place at a homemade shooting range.  I am not suggesting that the parents did anything wrong, but if you need a permit and pass inspections to add an addition to your home, shouldn’t there be stringent rules about homemade shooting ranges?

In my opinion these two cases exemplify the problem with our obsession with guns.  In the first, a little girl was allowed to handle and shoot an Uzi, which is an automatic weapon.  The result was the death of an instructor and the traumatization of a little girl.  In the second case, a well-meaning parent appeared to use proper safety practices while teaching his son to shoot, yet the result was an accident that was fortunate not to be tragic.

I think that everyone already knows what the argument against age limits on shooting firearms are.  I also believe we can guess about the argument of “anti-government regulations” should permits and inspections be required for homemade shooting ranges.  But despite the howling from the gun advocates, I believe these are topics that need to be addressed.

Safety laws are things that are required in our everyday lives.  Hell, if you want to go on a roller coaster ride, you have to be a certain height.  If you play Pop Warner football and are over a certain weight, you are restricted to what positions you can play.  There are restrictions on everything we do to help keep us safe.  Why aren’t there such safety regulations when it comes to shooting guns?

Or, if we can be subjected to having a permit and inspection if we want to add a deck to the house, shouldn’t there be permits and inspections required before allowing someone to use a homemade shooting range?  Shouldn’t we also use zoning laws to restrict where shooting ranges can be built?  Sorry, but putting an old stump out in the back 40 isn’t necessarily an ideal shooting area.  I live in a rural area and I hear guns being shot all of the time.  And, there are shooting accidents all of the time too.

These simple two incidents prove that guns do kill people.  More importantly, guns in the hands of children are even more dangerous because a child may not be able to control the gun safely.  If we have to start the conversation about guns somewhere, maybe we should start with when is it okay for a child to shoot a gun and what kind of gun they shoot.  And, where and how homemade shooting ranges are allowed.

Most people I know who own guns are reasonable people.  Even they will tell you that there should be restrictions on children handling and shooting guns.  They will even have no argument about codifying shooting ranges, even homemade ones.  Yes, these are only two examples.  But, how many more go unreported?

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