The way that the National Basketball Association and some NBA teams have reacted to the Gilbert Arenas controversy has me more convinced than ever that one characteristic of our age (and here again, we are similar to the court of Phillip II of Spain) is to attempt to solve a problem by ignoring it and instead working on a completely different issue, claiming that the other issue is what matters.
In our pursuit of terrorists, this bizarre strategy of ignoring the real problem and doing something else involved attacking Iraq when Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan and then attacking Afghanistan after the terrorists had moved to Pakistan.
In alternative energy, this strategy resulted in the Bush Administration providing massive support to a biofuels technology proven to consume more energy than it produces—processing corn into electricity. Not only was money taken from more promising technologies, but the new demand for corn sent the price of food soaring.
And let’s not forget that some on the right have blamed the lending policies of the federal government and not the bad loans unethically made and securitized by mortgage lenders as the cause of the real estate bubble whose bursting exploded into the worst recession since the one we call a depression.
In all of these cases, we in effect put a bandage on a foot when a hand was bleeding!
The same type of thinking has prevailed in the Arenas situation, which began when reports spread that the basketball player had pulled a gun on a teammate in the locker room in an argument about a gambling debt. A few days after the world responded with shock and disgust, a photo captured Arenas playfully aiming at his teammates with his pointer fingers extended from his fists.
Let me first state that I think that Arenas and anyone else who pulled a gun in the incident at the heart of the controversy should be suspended from the NBA for 82 games, with a second offense drawing a lifetime ban. The NBA rightfully bans guns from its locker rooms and practice facilities and should continue to do so.
But who really cares if Arenas was making fun of what he did with his teammates a few days later? If someone had been hurt, the jocular attitude would certainly be in extremely poor taste, but since no one was hurt, just let the guy be a doofus. Yet NBA Commissioner David Stern’s twisted reasoning made him ban Arenas for the silly joking around and not the dangerous incident.
The really twisted thinking though comes from the Capitals, Nets and other teams now banning card games in flight and in the locker room. What if the players had argued over the last piece of cake? Would you outlaw food in the locker room? Locker room card games go back a long way, to the very origins of major league baseball, and are quite popular among players. Why punish the many players who enjoy a friendly game because of one or two trigger-happy bozos? It’s like punishing the Iraqi people with destruction of their economic and social infrastructure followed by years of war because some vicious terrorists are hiding in the hills of Afghanistan.