Three years ago, Brit Hume, speaking on Fox News, expressed his hope that Tiger Woods will convert to Christianity because it offers a forgiveness and redemption that cannot be found in Woods’ religion, Buddhism. Hume’s comments provoked an uproar the essence of which was that news commentators shouldn’t use their network forum to express their view about the superiority of one religion over another.
I agreed with the sentiment but not the uproar. I argued that Hume’s statement was “no big deal” because Hume does not regularly use Fox News to offer religious commentary. Rather, his statement about (or to) Woods was a one-off instance in which his heart poured over into his commentary.
I feel the same way about the comment this weekend by sports show host Bob Costas about guns. Addressing the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, Costas quoted with approval the following views of Kansas City sportwriter:
Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.
In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.
Costas’ comments were inappropriate. Obviously, a football telecast is not the place for commentary on political issues.
However, calls for Costas to be fired or reprimanded are silly. Television personalities are people too. Given enough appearances on TV, it is natural that, once in a while, in an emotionally charged situation, they will find themselves expressing a deeply held personal view that exceeds the bounds of what they should be talking about.
The appropriate response is to shake our head and make a note of the transgression, not to make a case out of it. Surely, we aren’t so brittle as a nation that folks need to go on the warpath over a one-off inappropriately political expression like Costas’.
STEVE adds: I agree with Paul here, and have always thought Costas was a pretty good sports broadcaster. But I also can’t resist adding this: