Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Mike Rice/Rutgers Scandal: Fox Supports Bullying and Abuse, Right on Cue

Rutgers (now former) basketball coach Mike Rice

Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was publicly caught this week abusing his players -- pushing them, kicking them, throwing basketballs at their heads, hurling gay slurs at them -- when a compilation video of his offenses was released and aired on ESPN.

The coach, well-known for his sideline "antics," had been suspended for three games and fined $75,000 last fall when word spread internally at Rutgers, but the leaked video proved too much in the light of day. Rutgers moved within a couple of days and fired Rice outright. Good for them, though now Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti faces questions as to whether he acted too late.

And now, right on cue, two well-known Fox News hosts come out backing his modis operandi, declaring that it's good old-fashioned discipline. Here's Eric Bolling, no stranger to expressing hard-nosed, oddball ideas:

Yes, the thing we really need these days is someone who'll fight against the "wussification" of America. We can't have us becoming wussies, oh no. As Bolling bemoans, "This is an example of our culture in free-fall." Apparently firing a bullying coach fits right in with the culture wars raging all around us.

Bolling, of course, has a right to his opinion. And I do agree with him that this event fits squarely into the culture wars, which really are keeping our society in near-constant tumult. And Bolling's tribe is losing and losing big. Good, it was about time.

(I went to a Catholic high school where I, alongside my classmates, was beaten continually with sticks, steel cables, and hula-hoop plastic twisted around a steel shaft, Father Joe Anselm's favored device. Talk about twisted.)

Not to be outdone, Sean Hannity weighs in, bringing an oddly reticent Michelle Malkin with him:

Catch Malkin, when asked if she ever got hit, replying, "Oh, I certainly did, and with more than a belt." Just a little cryptic.

Slate's Emily Bazelon, long a champion of the bullied and abused, put it more to my liking:
[...]Today, we’re in the middle of a cultural shift in how we think about bullying and about cruel aggression as a motivator. It’s becoming increasingly clear that schools and teams are not supposed to stand for abusive bullying, even from coaches who say it’s all about intensity, passion, and competition. We’re less swayed by the old assumption that no one should mess with a tough coach, that players have to take whatever comes their way, and if they can’t, they just can’t hack it.
The shift starts with parents’ concerns about how bullying by coaches affects younger players. College and pro coaches set the tone for their counterparts at the high school and grade school level. Susan Swearer, a research psychologist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln points out the obvious when she says, “Coaches have a lot of power.” Swearer says she regularly gets emails from parents who worry that their kids’ coaches are going beyond healthy competition into the realm of cruelty.[...]
In light of past controversies -- Indiana's Bobby Knight and Ohio State's Woody Hayes come to mind -- and the present scandals such as Penn State's Jerry Sandusky, a reexamination is underway of violence of any stripe. This is lost on Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity, which shows quite well the type of opinionator favored by Fox News.

I'll stay on the lookout for contrarian reaction to the Rice firing and add it here. In the meantime, here's a recent example of the preferred Fox opinionating:

Sheesh. Makes you wonder what O'Reilly got hit with.

Update. This fits in to this discussion. I blow hot and cold in my opinion of Chris Matthews, enjoying his bluster but decidedly cool on his interview skills. But I'm sorry, here we find Matthews just yesterday appearing out to lunch on "wife beating":

C'mon, Chris. You're better than that.

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