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New Times / Shredder

The following article was posted on August 13th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 29, Issue 3 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 29, Issue 3

Thugz

Just call me Cassandra. Stunningly attractive. Possibly distantly related to royalty. Burdened with a gift of prophecy, which profits no one because I am dismissed by my peers as “that mad old alcoholic who couldn’t possibly have anything useful to say.” It’s a tough gig. I accomplish it with such grace and beauty that you’d never know it, but if you were to read my diary in careful detail, you’d find that the world’s failure to heed my warnings and predictions does wound me in places that aren’t the least bit erotic or ticklish.

Remember the article “Spoilsports” that New Times did just five months ago? The one in which we compiled the list of recent assaults, shootings, and alcohol violations allegedly involving Cal Poly athletes? We asked whether there wasn’t maybe a serious culture problem within the university’s athletic department?


In response, we received a dismissive shrug from Cal Poly administrators and faculty, who implied that we were somehow grasping at straws by pointing out the highly disturbing flurry of violent incidents involving athletes. And Cal Poly Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman stated, “We occasionally have incidents where a student-athlete steps out of line. I think most people understand these are exceptions, not the rule.”

I was a little peeved at how eagerly university administrators dismissed concerns about the broader athletic culture, but not really all that surprised. I am, after all, a stunningly attractive prophet, and I happen to know that even when Cal Poly administrators have their backs against a solid wall of damning evidence, they’re never going to acknowledge that they have a problem they should be addressing. Instead, we’re supposed to believe that violent crime occurs in a vacuum, that there’s never any warning signs or behavioral problems before members of the rugby club are accused of assault, or before members of the wrestling team are accused of assault, or before members of the football team are accused of being involved in multiple gun-related incidents. We’re supposed to believe that such incidents can’t possibly be prevented, or even discussed as a series of occurrences rather than individual supposed events.

Except now five Cal Poly football players have been accused of attempting to rob a fraternity house with a gun in the middle of the night. Suddenly everyone’s asking what the hell is going on at Cal Poly’s Department of Athletics—the very same question we posed five months ago. Maybe this most recent violent altercation could have been avoided if the Athletic Department had directed its resources toward answering the question rather than trying to shut it down with an authoritative, “There’s nothin’ to see here, folks.” And maybe it would have happened either way. Maybe it’s inevitable that five Cal Poly football players with a gun will show up at a frat house in the middle of the night and attempt to rob it. But we’ll never know whether the alleged crime could have been prevented if the Athletic Department had listened to concerns and investigated whether its culture was overly permissive.

What I do know is that we’re now going to squander any opportunity to learn from this violent incident by asking the wrong questions. This isn’t something I know because I’m a prophet; it’s something I know because I’ve seen humans behave shittily enough times that I can now expect it, the way editors expect that my column will show up two months after deadline scrawled in someone else’s lipstick on a copy of the New Testament I liberated from a Holiday Inn. 

For example, I can predict that when a crime is committed and four out of the five men arrested on suspicion of committing that crime are black, a strong contingent of morons is inevitably going to focus on race rather than the facts of what happened.

Sure enough, The Tribune’s Facebook comments turned up the following illogical gem, courtesy of Kevin Burroughs: “If Obama had sons ... ” Y’know, because Obama is a black politician Burroughs presumably doesn’t like?

If it was an isolated incident, I’d snort over Burroughs’ ignorance and go about my day making brilliant predictions most of you will ignore, transforming me into a bitter, brittle shell of my formerly glorious self.

But we’ve also got Jeff Reynoso on KSBY’s Facebook page commenting, “And you wonder why there is stereotypes.” Yes Jeff, I do wonder why there is stereotypes.

But the CalCoastNews trolls charged predictably and small-mindedly into the fray with a barrage of racially charged language and speculation. Kyle Harmon noted, “You can take the boys outta the hood, but you cant take the hood outta the boys ... ”

LameCommenter ingeniously observed, “If you import thugs, you’re going to get thuggish behavior. Societal decay comes to Happy Town. We can only wonder how many unreported rapes have been conducted by members of this esteemed group of football stars  ... ”

So far the only thing these guys are definitely guilty of—four out of five of them, anyway—is being black. But that’s apparently sufficient evidence in the court of public opinion to warrant assuming they’re not only “thugs” guilty of crimes they haven’t yet been convicted of, but also throwing in a random rape accusation. Of course, he’s commenting on an article titled “Cal Poly players rob frat house.” No “allegedly,” no respect for balanced and thoughtful reporting. So we can reasonably judge the quality of the comment against the quality of the journalism, and find that they’re about on par.

We don’t yet know whether these kids are guilty. But I do know the people commenting on the situation are guilty of being thoughtless bigots who probably shouldn’t leave the house without some kind of assistance. 

 

Shredder’s sick of seeing the word “thug.” Get a thesaurus at shredder@newtimesslo.com.