Since Sunday night I haven't watched ESPN. at all. Because I know what I'm going to get. Not a celebration of Dirk and the Mavs, because let's face it, no one actually cares about the NBA. It's far behind football and baseball on the American sports food chain. ESPN, like any media outlet worth it's salt, is giving it's viewers what they want (that's why there are 80 singing contest shows on tv), well ESPN is giving it's viewers what they want, the greatest public flogging an athlete has ever taken.
Listen, LeBron James, left Cleveland in a very public and very messy manner. Duh. He would probably forego the decision altogether if he could. Then there was the celebration, of the fact that Miami had "won" the offseason. A celebration which can be summed up by a single soundbite of LeBron proclaiming that they would win not one, but several championships.
When I heard this, I laughed, because in this day and age it would be absurd to think that one team, consisting of the same core could win four much less seven championships.
Fast forward to the 2011 NBA Finals. The Heat lost, and somewhere between games 2 and 5, LeBron had become the most hated
That's no simple feat when we've got a senator on trial for cheating on his wife while she was dying of cancer, congressional dick pics floating around on twitter, and a brand new season of Basketball Wives. That's when it occured to me that this thing went viral. A friend texted me he couldn't believe LeBron was getting the Rebecca Black treatment. But it makes sense....You can pack the decision, and the miami celebration into a 30 second soundbite, frame LeBron as the villian and feed it to the public for mass consumption. Have you ever been driving on the highway and had an accident on the other side slow down your side? We can't help it, we love to see a trainwreck. Love the drama, love to feel as if someone is getting his comeuppance. Even though it was a terrible PR move, I understand what LeBron was saying after the game. At some point, people have to look away from the other side of the road and keep driving. Now to be clear, no matter how correct he is, LeBron can't say that. I'm sure he's getting killed even more for saying that, but like I said, I haven't watched ESPN in a couple days so I wouldn't know.
But back to the 90% that are outraged with LeBron. Now Cleveland has a right to be upset. I'm ok with them giving it to LeBron. Fair is fair. But I would like Cleveland to know that they won't be getting any rings. Ever, for anything, or any sport, so please calm down.
However, the 90 that don't care about basketball, they represent a disturbing new trend in america that encourages people to actively to participate in the derision of another. It's the Lynch mob mentality. A lynch mob that stinks of an air of righteous indignation. For these people I have one question.
When is it acceptible to ostracize and publicly humilitate someone with all of your might?
In the last year we've had an increased awareness placed on cyber bullying, and isn't that what we're doing now? We tell our kids, "cyber bullying is wrong" and then we cyber bully the hell outta LeBron....on national television....because it makes for good tv.
I guess I just don't see the point. The core sports enthusiasts will hold this over Lebron's head until he wins a title. But everyone else, how long does this go on, a few days, a week maybe? Until the next public figure missteps? So what's the point? To somehow convince athletes through LeBron that they shouldn't be cocky? That's like trying to convice a predator not to prey on teen girls because of what he's seen on To Catch a Predator. It makes sense on paper, but in real life it doesn't work. Guys are still gonna show up at the house only to have Chris Hansen pull back the curtain and ask them to have a seat. Teams pay athletes millions of dollars to play a game, and then we shell out billions of dollars to watch them play said game.
Listen, if someone paid me millions of dollars to play a game, in my case madden, I'd be feelin myself too.
A lynch mob is a lynch mob. Certainly one that is geared around serving an athlete humble pie is far nobler than the ones that are documented in our nation's struggle with civil rights, but they're both breeding grounds of bloodlust and hate. They both germinate from a dark, ill intentioned place. There's nothing righteous about hate. Let's never make that mistake or accept the lynch mob rationalization that somehow the members of said lynch mob are better than those they condemn.
This lynch mob is powered by a presumed politcial correctness/high mindedness/superiority complex. It's a mob whose tagline should read "We want everyone to be nice, say nice things and do good all the time, and if they don't we will take it upon ourselves to publicly shame, punish, burn, embarass, ostracize, scrutinize, and persecute them to the fullest degree allowed by our societal constructs."
Criticism of LeBron is one thing, but ridicule is another.
Attention mobsters, to shame the LeBron’s of the world and to claim you're doing it in the name of "karma" is absolute hypocrisy. You can stop patting yourselves on the back. This is without a doubt the laziest, most malcious, and downright delusional stance to take. How about taking the time to curb the selective outrage that has become ubiquitous over the last 5 years. We won't go see a movie with Mel Gibson, but Mike Tyson is beloved for his role in the Hangover, the number one grossing R rated comedy of all time. And here's one, Mel Gibson shot a cameo for the sequel, but they deemed it would be too offensive to have him in it, while Mike Tyson is in the second one too. Do I need to remind you Mike Tyson raped a woman and served 3 years in prison!?! But Mel Gibson is more offensive than Mike Tyson? Selective Outrage at it's finest! To be clear, I'm not a Gibson or Tyson apologist, I'm just saying that we should strive to more even across the board.
I've made mistakes. LeBron has made mistakes. People have made mistakes before him. People have made similar mistakes, bigger mistakes, and smaller mistakes. And people will continue to make mistakes. You can learn from your mistakes and seeing the error in your ways. Unfortunately, a lynch mob doesn't show someone his mistake in order to build him up and make him better. A lynch mob has one unmistakable purpose.....to literally seek and destroy.