Dave Reardon

Points East

By Dave Reardon

Monday, January 10, 2000

There’s no cure
for stupidity

JOHN Rocker claims he isn't a racist. That reminds me of a comedian who said the same thing, adding that he hated all minorities equally.

Rocker missed at least one - the mentally ill. But Major League Baseball took care of that for him last week, insisting the Atlanta Braves' reliever undergo psychological testing because of all those nasty things he said about all those groups of people.

Lumping this high-profile buffoon in with innocents who happen to suffer from mental illness is just as insulting as anything Rocker said in his immigrant-ripping, single-mother-dissing, gay-bashing Sports Illustrated interview.

Let's put it this way - what ails Rocker can't be fixed by psychotherapy sessions and popping a few Prozacs. Last we checked, there's no cure for stupidity.

Nor is there a rule against saying idiotic things. In fact, the Constitution of the United States of America protects a citizen's right to speak his or her mind, regardless of how miniscule that mind might be.

While there's something to be said for shipping Rocker to Cuba instead of that cute little kid, Rocker is for now entitled to free speech, even if he can't count to the number of the amendment that covers it.

OK, there's the caveat about yelling "Fire!" in a crowd. But until we see hate groups choose Rocker as their poster boy, that's simply not the case. The KKK, neo-Nazis and militias have yet to rally around him, at least publicly. Apparently, he's too much of a moron for even morons to associate with.

IF anything, Rocker probably has set back the cause of hate, or at least the voicing of it. This guy's gone from hero to pariah faster than anyone whose initials aren't Orenthal James.

He might, on the surface, skate with a few visits to some psychiatrists, maybe a suspension and a fine. But whatever you might think, he ain't getting off easy.

In addition to every minority on the Braves, Rocker even managed to insult Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both white, for their businesslike approach to the game.

Imagine you got really drunk at your company Christmas party and alienated every single one of your co-workers. Multiply it by about a thousand, and you've got what Rocker will have to deal with on the first day of spring training, and probably longer.

And that's just on his own team.

He might have to get his mouth sewn shut, but Rocker won't be banned from baseball, or released by the Braves.

SURE, lots of other people get fired for voicing unpopular opinions. But Charles Barkley never did. Granted, Sir Charles is not the equal-opportunity racist that Rocker is; but a racist he is. Barkley's just a lot smarter and funnier than Rocker.

Hypocrisy? Certainly. Here's some more:

Why the public outcry against Rocker, and nary a wimper when Braves manager Bobby Cox was caught beating up his wife?

Then there are the advocacy group leaders stumbling over each other to get a piece of Rocker. Here's one of the least nimble from the fight-hate-with-hate crowd:

"We will not tolerate the intolerance of this ignorant redneck from down-south Georgia," said the Rev. Gerald Durley of Concerned Black Clergy.

Just goes to show -- stupidity is color blind.

Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii
from 1977 to 1998, is a sportswriter at the
Gainesville Sun. E-mail

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