The decision to suspend Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker until May 1 for
his disparaging comments about blacks, gays, and immigrants shows a
toughness rarely seen in the sports world. When Ted Turner made a Polish
joke about Pope John Paul II last year, baseball did nothing. It didn't
discipline him in any fashion -- not even with a fine (Rocker must pay
$20,000) or "sensitivity training" (Rocker must enroll).
Turner's comments, in fact, were offensive not only to Poles and Catholics
("Ever seen a Polish mine detector?" asked Turner, who then stomped his
feet), but religious people generally. Worse, they weren't even as funny
as your average Helen Keller joke. During his speech to the National
Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association last February, he
called the Ten Commandments "a little out of date." He also added that "If
you're only going to have 10 rules, I don't know if prohibiting adultery
should be one of them." Granted, attacks on religion are nothing new. But
when they're combined with Polish jokes and anti-Catholic sentiment
(Turner also said the pope should "get with it. Welcome to the 20th
century"), they betray ideas no less contemptible than anything Rocker, an
immature 25-year-old, has said.
Sure, Turner apologized for his comments in a written statement to the
Catholic League, a group that monitors anti-Catholic discrimination. But
then Rocker has said he's sorry, too. The Braves' closer may be getting
what he deserves; the team's owner wasn't even wrist-slapped.
This week's New Yorker
includes a profile of Friedrich von Hayek, author
of the seminal books The Road to Serfdom
and The Constitution of
(#4 and #9, respectively, in NR's list of the 100 best
non-fiction books of the 20th century). It's a welcome topic, if an odd
one: Hayek died eight years ago and there's no particular reason to write
about him now. Except that the New Yorker
's John Cassidy has suddenly
decided that Hayek is a major intellectual figure of the 20th century.
That's true, of course. Yet Cassidy's charge that Hayek is "long
forgotten" is hilariously off-base. Thomas Sowell wrote a cover story for
just a few years ago celebrating the golden anniversary of The
Road to Serfdom
, a little book making a big point: Communism and Nazism
spring from the same totalitarian impulse. Or, as Cassidy puts it nicely:
"To [Hayek], Stalin and Hitler were two suits in the same closet, and the
closet was marked 'collectivism.'"
Of course Cassidy, a good liberal, isn't entirely comfortable with Hayek's
views: "This was a strange way to write about compulsory health insurance,
state-financed education, and regional development programs all of which
were intended to help people fulfill their individual potential." Cassidy
is also bothered by the fact that, unlike people who write for the New
Yorker, conservatives and libertarians have celebrated Hayek for decades.
There's a portrait of him on display at the Heritage Foundation. The Cato
Institute named its auditorium after him. Writes Cassidy: "His legacy was
appropriated by the far right. This is unfortunate."
Well, it's a good thing somebody was paying attention. "I made it all the
way through undergraduate and graduate school without reading Hayek, and I
wasn't unusual," writes Cassidy. The real crime here is that liberals
either opposed Hayek or ignored him. As Cassidy admits, "on the biggest
question of all, the vitality of capitalism, [Hayek] was vindicated to
such an extent that it is hardly an exaggeration to refer to the twentieth
century as the Hayek century."
Too bad it took the New Yorker until the 21st century to figure that out.