Monday, June 9, 2008

Red Sox Brawl - what would you and I get?

Fan outrage over the suspensions in the fallout from the Red Sox - Rays brawl runs pretty deep.
The devoted on both sides are licking their wounds over the decisions: Coco Crisp = out 7 games; John Lester = 5; Sean Casey = 3; 5 Rays suspensions. All tolled there were eight suspensions totaling 38 games. "Where's the justice?," ask some fans. Has anyone considered what you and I would get for taking swings at people in public? Huh? Hello, they call it assault and battery, and it often carries jail time.

Let's take another infamous donnybrook in sports: the 2004 Pacers - Pistons brawl. To summarize: Piston forward/center Ben Wallace was fouled by Pacer forward, Ron Artest. Wallace shoved Artest. An altercation ensued between several players. After shenanigans by Artest, fans got involved. One, John Green, threw a cup at Artest, and Artest took it to the stands. Other fans threw beer and soda; one threw a chair. Pacers attacked spectators, nine of whom were injured. The players got suspended totaling 143 games. A few got charged with assault and battery, out of which Bryant Jackson got two years probation. But John Green? Well, he was acquitted of throwing the cup but charged with punching Artest in the stands. He got 30 days in jail and 2 years probation.

I don't know, readers. Does something seem amiss here? Maybe you are spotting a trend when sports stars/movie stars/pop stars break the law. We should be asking ourselves about the double standard thing.

Take, for instance, the Russell Crowe arrest at the Mercer Hotel in New York City in 2005. The Aussie bad boy got into a lather because the hotel reception clerk could not connect him to his wife Down Under by phone. Crowe chucked a desk phone at the clerk, causing a nasty gash in his head. He was sentenced to conditional release and to pay $100,000 to settle the civil suit out of court. Jail time? Nope.

Leggy supermodel, Naomi Campbell's arrest for assault and battery against two London police officers made quite a stir this year. When hearing her bag did not make it on the flight to the U.S., Campbell kicked and spat at the police and had to be removed from the plane. Her sentence was 200 hours community service, 200 pound fines to each officer, and 150 pound to the captain. She might have gotten 6 months in jail. But she didn't. She's a celebrity.

The incident broaches another bone to stick in our throats. This is a case of Air Rage. Yes, Air Rage, that very unfunny bout of hysterics that is a little unsettling in this age of airtight security. One passenger was jailed for 12 months for assaults on a plane bound to the U.K. from Turkey. Campbell took off a few pounds - 950 to be exact - and has to dole out the cookies on Guy Fawkes Day. But, hey, she still looks terrific!

D.U.I., once earning a night in the slammer or stern warnings by the Highway Patrol, has become more crushing in the last twenty years or so. In California for first offense, non-injury, you could get 48 hours to 6 months in jail, fines of up to $1000, license suspension of 4 months, and 3 years probation. For the second offense jail time can be 90 - 120 days, fines same, and suspension of a year. That is, unless you are a celeb.

Lindsay Lohan's arrests for D.U.I. and hit and run in May of 2007 entailed a plea by the actress. The sentence was one day in the slammer, 10 days community service, and mandatory drug treatment (the last has become very fashionable). She was sentenced to 96 hours but had to serve only 48 of them. She lucked out with credit for time served and ended up with only one day more.

The plot thickens. Lohan was later that year charged with chasing her assistant's mother in her car, drunk driving, possession of Cocaine, and driving on a suspended license stemming from the May charges. She was earlier booked with the May charges. Wearing a SCRAM ankle bracelet and getting routine drug tests was part of the deal. Her jail stay from the May charges was 45 minutes long. What does M.A.D. think of her? I wonder.

In this time of Christian moralism at a high water mark, let's look at the embarrassments of Indecent Exposure. It may have gone over in the '70's on Broadway with Oh! Calcutta! and on a few California beaches, but it you are more likely to cool your body parts in a holding tank these days. Not so Janet Jackson. Her 'wardrobe malfunction', whatever that is, got her bosses at CBS appealing a $550,000 fine. The Superbowl half-time performance also featured Nelly and a crotch-grabbing performance. Jackson and Nelly get nuthin', but check this out: A court sentenced a Montana man to 225 years for indecent exposure. His three counts will run consecutively, not concurrently. He's locked up where he can do no more malice. Jackson is probably preparing her costume designers for the next 'malfunction'. And Justin Timberlake doesn't even get a dishonorable mention award for his 'shagadilic' behavior.

Where would American culture be without its pinnacle? I don't mean Moby Dick. I mean The Jerry Springer Show. Midget transvestites and a guy bragging about his relationship with his pet horse are protected under the First. But when it came to dust ups and chairs flying, the Chicago City Council took action. A 1999 hearing statement was to the effect that, if the violence were real, guests could be arrested for fighting. If it were fake, the producers should be exposed as frauds. The prod's toned it down after that. God forbid the Jerry Springer show should look like The Palace of Auburn Hills (see Pacers v. Pistons).

There goes that little question mark over my head. I mean there are still shoving matches and simple assaults on the Jerry Springer set, albeit minus the chair-throwing. Why is it that any time big money is involved the parties involved don't see or see for only a few days the beams of the jailhouse spotlights?

To be fair, I'll have you know Wesley Snipes was sentenced to 3 years for income tax evasion. Sure, but here's the diff.: The guvment wasn't getting its money. When Janet Jackson and the Red Sox do naughty, the cash registers are cranking.

Stuart Kurtz
June 22, 2008

The previously published photo in this blog was courtesy of > The photo was taken by the Associated Press.

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