Tuesday, November 27, 2007

RIP Sean Taylor

By Rick Morris

FDH sends its thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor, his family, friends and teammates.

Honestly, I had two thoughts when I heard about the shooting on Monday morning:

1. Not having heard about Taylor's attitude adjustment in the last year or two, I wondered if this might be connected to consequences about his lifestyle. Having read sorrowful accounts from his teammates about how he had turned his life and attitude around, I feel badly for my thoughts at the time.

2. What was he doing at his Miami home? Even if Joe Gibbs had given the Redskins the day off on Monday, aren't these players supposed to stay at least roughly in the area? I think most people would think it to be awfully lenient for players to travel to the four corners of the earth as long as they were back at practice on Wednesday. I'm not raising this point to blame anyone in the Washington organization, merely to indicate my initial surprise that he could have been so far away from his in-season home at the time of this tragedy.

A subsequent thought that I had was reinforced by this Jemele Hill column on ESPN's Page 2. Now, I should mention right off the bat that Ms. Hill is not generally my cup of tea -- and I'm being restrained in that description because of the serious nature of this column and subject matter. Her style of race-baiting is something I find reprehensible. I agree with my colleague Burrell Jackson when he stated on the last Lounge program that he hates race-baiting from both sides (which is not to suggest that he is going to reciprocally agree with every statement I make here!). But she makes the point in her column that the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 24 is homicide. Practitioners of the race card such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton love to point out how blacks are incarcerated in vast disproportion to their representation in the population. But guess what? They also suffer from crime, most definitely including violent crime, in vast disproportion to the population.

As is her wont, Ms. Hill then veers completely off the rails by playing the race card and suggesting that white America is somehow to blame for this, or doesn't care, or whatever her "point" may have been. Of course, the fact that race hustlers like her treat ANY discussion of crime or law and order as a coded appeal to racism undermines her case completely. It's hard to get white America to care about the problem as much as you'd like if you figuratively slap a Klan hood on someone for merely being concerned about crime levels.

Her initial point was right, however. Sean Taylor's murder was part and parcel of a crime virus that is devastating the young black male population. Unlike her, however, I have an idea about how to address it. We will hear much talk in the days, weeks and months to come from pro athletes wanting to make a difference in the aftermath of this tragedy and to try to leverage something good from it. If they simply live up to their social obligations as role models, they'll succeed in doing just that:

^ Those who glorify thug culture (such as Carmelo Anthony participating in a "Stop Snitching" campaign or PacMan Jones with every act of immature entitlement that makes up his pathetic life) should stop immediately.

^ A "Sean Taylor Campaign" to urge legislatures and the judiciary towards concrete steps towards zero tolerance for violent crime would be a fitting tribute.

It's way past time for the richly paid athletes of our society to recognize their responsibilities to the community. Kids idolize them and politicians can be moved by them if they mobilize in the right way. Above all, it's time for some focus. If we get serious about locking up violent criminals, stop thinking that law and order is a bad thing in this country and stop navel-gazing about the percentages of black males in prison, then we can address the point of Jemele Hill and start saving the lives of young black males and everyone for that matter. I should point out that I am in favor of rooting out whatever racial double standards do account for the disproportionate black prison population as I believe in racial fairness across the board. But in general, less sympathy for criminals and more for victims and potential victims is the jolt in the shorts that society needs.

The only way to really honor Sean Taylor is through positive action.

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