No collection plate after this sermon!

August 13, 2002 10:15 AM
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I have been offered a pulpit and asked to preach an occasional sermon for the parishioners of GamingToday.

Under the circumstances it seems only fair that for openers I lay out the prejudices of the preacher before the collection plate is passed.

There will be no claims of objectivity here, and none of expertise.

There are, however, almost 60 years of coverage of the sporting and political scene, up close and down and dirty, for qualification.

That kind of exposure does not ensure an education, but it qualifies one to view the world with whatever jaundiced eye he pleases, and the views expressed here will quickly make it apparent that the viewer has strong opinions on almost every subject, and enjoys sharing them willingly.

You can accept them with whatever emotion they evoke, from a nod of agreement to a scream of wrath. The decades have fashioned a hardened soul impervious to criticism, with a built-in flak jacket and bullet proof vest. Fire away.

Among those views is a strong and bitter dislike for the arrogance of athletes in today’s sports world. Many are overpaid and undereducated, uncouth and uncivil, swaggering and frequently savage toward the opposite sex. Starting as early as college, they seem to think their muscles set them apart from the rest of civilization. Having encountered them firsthand in professional football and basketball, and through media exposure of their wife- and sweetheart-beating exploits and verbal crudeness, I have developed contempt for their bullying and assaults and an understanding of their insecurity despite their newfound gross affluence.

I also am dismayed at the tack and tackiness of governance of the greatest nation in the world.

For legal and moral guidance, we have a guy who lost a U.S. Senate election to a dead man, and as a reward was named attorney general of the United States.

We have a government that has the audacity to dictate to the women of the world what they can and cannot do with their bodies, and punish them financially and physically if they choose to exercise that right.

We have moralists in high places who ignore the progress of new world communication, and think they can stifle with legislation the most irrepressible and universal of all communication vehicles, the Internet. Trying to repress gambling on that medium will earn them an ultimate place in history alongside Congressman Andrew J. Volstead, the father of prohibition who wound up a scorned and forgotten footnote to a stupid idea.

We parade CFOs and controllers in handcuffs on front pages nationwide to make it appear Washington is doing something about corporate crime, but at the same time let the crooks they worked for, who made millions in phony stock deals, live in ease and luxury while their shareholders nurse the wounds of losing much of their lifetime savings.

We have a war mentality without morality or common sense, assuming that we can recklessly bomb everyone into submission from the air, or into agreement with our ideas. and we have a knee-jerk phony political sense of patriotism and flag waving, launching a hundred billion dollar search in a hostile, barren, ungovernable nation ten thousand miles away for The Evil One, with pious pronouncements that we would bring him to justice. Have you seen him, or Elvis, lately?

We are asked to watch, on endless talk shows, a bevy of ex-prosecutors, all blonde and all loud (where do the networks dig them up?) whose harsh tones and grating voices are television’s answer to screeching chalk on a blackboard.

That gives you a small glimpse of what lies ahead in this space.

If interested, stick around.

If offended, there’s always keno to sharpen the mind and intellect.