Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tonight, I find myself defending Mike Wilbon for the first time in this space. In general, I think Wilbon is full of himself, a shameless homer, rabidly anti-Notre Dame and a tool. That said, I do not share the opinion of Mr. Irrelevant, the loser blogger who condemned Wilbon to an eternity in the infernal region.

This is all in relation to the tragic death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor last night. On the Monday edition of PTI, Wilbon said he was saddened, but not shocked that Taylor was shot in an apparent home invasion late Sunday night. Wilbon's rationale was that Taylor had been involved in some troubling off-field incidents in his first two seasons in the NFL. Mr. Irrelevant condemns Wilbon to Hell because Wilbon didn't stress the fact that Taylor had calmed down and lived a much different life in the last year or so with enough emphasis to satisfy Mr. Irrelevant.

As a Catholic, I have it on reliable rumor that no blogger, not even the greatest living authority on the DC sports scene in his own mind, is counted among the few authorities with the power to condemn a soul to an eternity in hell. I also didn't find the comments Wilbon made to be tremendously out of line, but then I am notoriously insensitive. It struck me that this was Wilbon's honest reaction to a tragic situation, and it's much better that he should come out and say this as opposed to shedding crocodile tears for the people involved.

Among Wilbon's words with which Mr. Irrelevant took issue is this sentence: "Whether this incident is or isn’t random, Taylor grew up in a violent world, embraced it, claimed it, loved to run in it and refused to divorce himself from it." Wilbon actually makes a good point there. One simply doesn't announce to all that one is retiring from a violent subculture because one has had a child and expect any and all bad blood to evaporate.

That's not the way the world works. People have long memories and regardless of race, culture or creed, there are very few people who are patient enough and rational enough to walk away from a grudge. I know I don't often give up grudges easily, and very little of any lasting emotional significance has happened to me in my life.

It was great that Sean Taylor changed his life. It was great that his coaches, teammates and fans loved and admired him. Sean Taylor didn't deserve to be murdered. But that doesn't mean that all people felt that way, simply because it was the correct and rational viewpoint. And that's what Wilbon was trying to say. He wasn't saying Taylor got what he deserved. He was saying that the world is a violent and irrational place and we can't count on everybody to change for the better because one safety on one NFL team got his life in order.

Far worse, I think, than what Wilbon said about Taylor was what Mr. Irrelevant seems to regard as Wilbon's real crime in this. WIlbon said something that wasn't nice to the blogging community. Wilbon came out and said this: "There’s a ton of speculation about the details of his condition and the details of the incident, but this isn’t a blog and we’re not going to get into wild guessing and speculating here". Can you imagine the gall of the man? Even the voice of reason that is the fanhouse at AOL couldn't stand Wilbon's obvious fear and contempt for Establishment-challenging blogs.

I hate to be the one to break this story on the blogosphere, but bloggers do engage in wild flights of fancy and speculation from time to time. Case in point, check out this guy and his bizarre predictions motivated in large part by personal antipathy rather than deductive reasoning. That's part of the point of a blog, isn't it? The freedom to say things, to take chances and not worry about the pressures exerted on conventional media.

Most blogs are a total waste of time. How many blogs are out there publishing something substantially different from or more insightful than the things average people email their friends about sports or politics or movies? It's just something that most bloggers don't want to admit, probably because they cherish the dream that they might through hard work and begging other sites for links and references vault themselves over every other site saying essentially the same damn thing to become the Marcel Proust of the 21st century.

If by that you mean an uber-tool admired by a legion of lesser tools, then, yes one blogger might become this generation's Proust. But if you mean by that that you have something to say to start an intellectual movement, then you might just want to cut the dose on your meds. With my luck, if there is a next generation Proust waiting in the wings in the blogosphere, it will probably be me. In case you haven't realized, I hate Proust.

On a lighter note, I couldn't help but chuckle at this story. Great Britain's vaunted MI-6 thinks that James Bond movies are hurting their efforts to recruit quality people, particularly in the minority communities and especially among Islamic populations. That's pretty funny. Apparently, British nationals who watch Bond movies are no cooler than their American counterparts. Too many of MI-6 applicants turn out to be losers who think they can seduce beautiful spies and destroy cutting edge gadgets for Queen and Country, rather than practical people with useful skills. It's nice to know that the next time the fate of the free world rests in a British dude's hands, he won't be wearing a tux and playing baccarat with a European floozy.

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