On the Frank Clark controversy
It ain't about innocence; it's about fairness


Geoff Baker, a HOF-destined sportswriter, has two articles up.  The first one questions whether the Seahawks had the ethical right to draft Frank Clark, in the 1st round or the 7th.  The second article (commendably) quotes the prosecutor to the effect that Clark is fine.

A few questions, after which Mojo or anybody else can point the hapless Dr. D in the right direction:


OK, the Seahawks won't draft anybody who ever hit a woman -- even if our judicial system has already extracted the full penalty the man owes society.

Since when do we privatize the punishment of crime?  When mob sentiment is the mechanism for calibrating a man's penalties, isn't that what they used to call a "lynching"?


If it is good and right for the Seahawks to avoid such a player then --- > it is good and right for each pro sports team to avoid him.

A lifetime ban from pro sports for getting into a wrangle with your wife that she started?  I'm genuinely curious:  how many of you guys would go for that?  One slap and you're out, 20 years.  For which other crimes would you attach this "Death Penalty"?

And if pro sports can ban you, why can't Boeing?  Why can't every employer?

So the women have a blank check to inflict damage, right?  Whale away, honey.  If I block your punch too hard, I'm done for life.


Bear in mind that there is nothing I hate worse than bullies.  A man who legitimately bullies a woman, in my world, gets horsewhipped in town square.  No, I'm not kidding.


Sure, if facts come out later -- like with the Ray Rice video -- then you revise your judgment to match the new facts.

Bill James defended Pete Rose, and it became part of his legacy.  Most people thought it was embarrassing to James when Rose later admitted gambling.  They're missing the point entirely.


I'm not talking about whether the Seahawks showed due diligence.  I have no idea whether they did.  I wouldn't put it past them to lie about their due diligence.  The NFL is not known for candor here.  But my question on SSI is whether you have qualms rooting for Clark.  Suppose he becomes a 14-sack-a-year man?


The prosecutor, in essence, serves as de facto judge for Clark here.  She characterizes him as a good guy, characterizes the initial police reports as "way out of hand," and is perfectly comfortable that Clark's chance of abuse in the future is no more than yours or mine.

Why the concern over the Seahawks interviewing witnesses when the PROSECUTOR did that, and the Seahawks then got an endorsement from her?



Supposing Clark didn't have the DV charge.  Where would he have gone in the draft?  What range?  Unless or until I find out that he's a batterer, I'm psyched that the Seahawks might have had a pass rusher fall to them.






I have a younger sister and a daughter. If I found either one of them bleeding because of someone hitting them there would be assault & battery charges brought against me for what I would do. That said I would NOT expect to be called a hero for doing that. It would be wrong. I should be punished. I should lose some things that are important to me for committing this retaliatory act... but when I paid my dues I should be able to return to my life. Debt paid. Forgiveness. Not forgotten but forgiven.
However with the war on women these days there is no forgiving. ALL must be punished and punished again and again. Even though domestic violence is down considerably since the 1990's and 1980's and such we men have desecrated women in so many other ways. We all must be punished. Every man needs to bow down today and repent... because ALL MEN are guilty just because we are men. We have deprived women for years. We have forced them to cook for us. We have forced them to clean up after us. We have chained them down to their homes or worse yet have forced them to get jobs and still do everything. If one man is guilty WE ARE ALL GUILTY. REPENT!!!


This Clark guy is the 31st pick of the second round or the 63rd overall pick.  By that time all of the guys with impact talent unimpeachable drive and spotless public service resumes were probably taken. 
If the Hawks are not going to try to obtain a real impact talent with their highest draft pick then there is no point to drafting at all. 
I don't think a misdemeanor battery conviction should bar a person from working for the rest of his life.  But I can understand a team wanting to take a pass on a guy to avoid his legal headaches and brand identification that goes with him.  The thing about athletes is that they have a very public job where they are closely scrutinized like a politician.  The other thing about athletes is that they often don't live their lives intending to be politician clean.
I also think that a one time DV issue is completely different from a Floyd Mayweather or Milton Bradley situation where each has a long and continuous history of domestic violence. 

Nathan H's picture

I'm convinced that the majority of the hue and cry over the Frank Clark pick is an inability to separate the charge under which he was arrested (which causes people to recoil like a hot iron subsequent ruling be damned) from the Seahawks front office's inconsistent message whereby they have taken a stand that they will not draft a player who has hit a woman (while not applying the same standard to player acquisition in general) and drafted a player that probably did hit a woman.
I won't go into the details of the incident because I think they are incidental ( :) ) to the conversation. That conversation being were the Seahawks in the wrong in drafting him? Probably not. Were they in the wrong with their message afterward? Probably. It's hard to separate the two issues but they should be separated.


Starting with the "every man needs to" line you sort of gained steam until you spun out of your chair and out of the camera like John Belushi in the early SNL.  Remember that?  :- )

Good post TR.  Jemanji-on-Pineda woulda been proud.


From my angle I've got to acknowledge a company's right to control its brand.  Where a legit problem exists here the discussion becomes nuanced.
Your last paragraph I think that's what the prosecutor was getting at also right?  Our legal system for all ITS warts seems to do a good job sorting offenders into piles of socks.  At least a much better job than the sports media does.
James brought this up with Adrian Peterson:
I would go back to the story of Lefty Gomez 1908 to 1989 baseball 1930 to 1943.    Lefty Gomez was a highly intelligent man but as a rookie he was nicknamed "Goofy" by his teammates because he had a hyper-active sense of humor and was always doing things to get a laugh.    Gomez rather than rejecting the "Goofy" label bought into it and ran with it.   In his era athletes who might earn $20000-$30000 during the season could earn a substantial portion of the same in the off-season by speaking to neighborhood clubs the Elks club and the Moose lodge and the VFW and the Knights of Columbus and the Optimists Club.   An in-demand athlete might speak to 50 or 70 groups in the off-season picking up a little bit of money each time.    Many of the athletes who did this weren’t really very good at it but Lefty Gomez was great at it.   Lefty had created caricatures of all of his teammates and he would tell stories about his teammates based on these caricatures that he had created.   When the press picked up his stories and printed them it re-established these caricatures and this made it easier for Gomez to spin his yarns since everybody knew these caricatures going in.
                But Lefty Gomez was married to a beautiful model and when she filed for divorce (about 1938 1939) she alleged that he drank a lot and that when he was drunk he would sometimes beat the hell out of her.    The press did not cover this up; it was in the newspapers—but they printed this and then they moved on.   It didn’t haunt him the rest of his life the way it would now and I would suggest that it didn’t haunt him the rest of his life because he had a multi-dimensional caricature that was established in the public’s mind.
                Contrast that with Adrian Peterson who was suspended for the season and subjected to public humiliation on a very large scale essentially because he used parenting techniques that were accepted a generation ago but no longer are.   I am not in any way suggesting that Peterson’s parenting-with-a-switch process is a good one or even an acceptable one or that he doesn’t need to be educated about that but on the other hand I think it was totally inappropriate to suspend him and I think that his failings have been exaggerated by some among us.    What was needed WAS to educate him not to humiliate him; this I think is how we make real progress as opposed to self-satisfied progress.
Peterson switched that boy wayyyy too hard especially for a 4-year-old.  But you do factor in the line about 'one generation before' and contrast it with Ray Rice's video.  Well we do; the press doesn't.


That's a good point too Nathan.  
I don't like the way that the Seahawks put their policy on a bumper sticker sized marquee Look How Clear and Decisive We Are! when they know they're going to have to get more nuanced in real life.
If anything that's the problem I have with the Seahawks.  But the press isn't exactly going to demand that the Seahawks drop their simplistic message now are they.  The media's message is even more simplistic:  Men Bad Women Good.  (Well now I'm replacing Belushi at his chair...)

Jpax's picture

And yet Winston does far worse (perhaps questionably but in my opinion with the possibility of even more off-field antics) but no one seems to worry about him going 1-1.


I can just picture a judge advising the jury before deliberations.  "You will take all of the defense's arguments into consideration when you discuss the DV Perp."
Rick Anderson's column makes Baker's first one look like a model of objectivity.


If only Frank could figure out a way to go kiss Hillary's ring and apologize in public... all would be forgotten.
However if he starts out with - Jane you ignorant slut... Hillary might become pro death penalty.


What Anderson wrote is by definition a column not a news report--so I think his personal opinion is to be expected.
But that doesn't hit at the heart of the matter--the facts he presents. The team says it has a 'no-DV' policy--with five guys on its roster with apparent DV histories. How do we square that?
While the Peterson and Rice cases may be relevant I'm thinking Josh Lueke is much more pertinent in order to allow for whatever impression one has of the Seattle media.
I'm not equating their wrongdoing. But the question is this: has--and will--local media and the fan base hold Frank and the Seahawks to the same standard?


I'm with you all the way Doc that society has gotten way out of hand with the virtual lynchings of people in prominent positions.
On a tangential note ;-) I've often said and am fairly confident in asserting that the reason society feels the need to vilify these public figures in the way it does is simple: most people are flat-out lazy parents.
Let me expand on that a little (hopefully without launching into a three thousand word essay on the subject). A thousand years five hundred years and even two hundred years ago people taught their children nursery rhymes fables and parables from the holy text of their choosing in order to impart a sense of morality and ethics as well as to provide character models for a developing mind's reference during the formative years. An example conclusion a child can draw from the Tortoise & The Hare might be: talent is good but perseverance is better. Or in something closer to a five year old's words 'Work long and work hard; don't try to work too fast."
These mechanisms (religion fables close-knit family structure etc..) which human beings have long used for shaping the minds of the next generation have been under vicious attack for a hundred years or so - basically since urbanization took root across the world and half the planet's human population started living in cities (like Thomas Jefferson warned us about). As a result far too many parents don't do the actual *work* of teaching their children morality ethics or how to recognize - and emulate - positive character attributes. They defer this responsibility to teachers in the public school system edu-tainment programs on television/the internet and to the public images of our modern-day royalty (actors athletes politicians etc..).
But here's the thing about modern-day royalty: precious few of them were groomed with the expectation that they would have to fill that particular role. *Most* people belonging to the modern-day royalty class are either bootstrappers (the vast majority of athletes and prominent entertainers as well as kingpin businessmen/women) while only a few are generational royalty (the Kennedy or Bush families for instance). As a result very very few of these folks understand - and even fewer likely accept - the burden of responsibility which goes with being modern-day royalty (that burden being the need to craft maintain and protect a quality public image). This combined with a TMZ-fueled royalty monitoring system/newsfeed results in every single flaw in these peoples' lives coming to light literal minutes after its first exposure.
I'm not really blaming the media; in a sense artists used to carry that particular torch (criticizing powerful figures and monitoring the state of local affairs since they had both access to the information and a platform via which they could communicate their observations) so there's always been some measure of public oversight for the lives of royalty. That oversight mechanism however has never been as intrusive fast-acting or widely disseminated as it is today which just magnifies the exposed flaws of these folks.
So when you've got parents of an entire generation who literally don't spend twenty minutes per day with each of their kids in an effort to discuss these types of issues (character morality ethics etc..) they will be quick to point an accusing finger at the celebrities whenever something questionable occurs - this is in my view primarily because they're shirking the responsibility themselves and are looking for someone to blame. They likely think they're being good parents by vociferously castigating the people in the limelight but that's a classic example of negative feedback; where is the kid supposed to get their positive feedback?
Personally I subscribe to Doc's old line of 'These men are paid to hurt people and break things.' I don't *want* Jon Jones as a role model for my children. I don't *want* my daughter's answer to 'who do you want to be like when you grow up?' to be 'Ronda Rousey!' I have nothing against these people and have actively supported their careers from time to time with my hard-earned dollars but I don't pay them to be role models for my children. I pay them to entertain me and those around me by performing their craft for my pleasure.
Let Frank Clark play the game. Anyone who's asking him to be a role model (aside from close friends or family) has their priorities mixed up. The man has trained his entire life to hurt people and break things. Society has a finely tuned system of justice in place for analyzing and punishing people who are involved in situations like he was in. That he was not punished - and that the lack of punishment was not due to a bona fide miscarriage of justice - is supposed to be the end of several conversations including the one about whether or not he can hurt people and break things on primetime television.
Just stop asking these guys to be role models to your children.


++ So when you've got parents of an entire generation who literally don't spend twenty minutes per day with each of their kids in an effort to discuss these types of issues (character morality ethics etc..) they will be quick to point an accusing finger at the celebrities whenever something questionable occurs - this is in my view primarily because they're shirking the responsibility themselves and are looking for someone to blame. - See more at: http://seattlesportsinsider.com/comment/159291#comment-159291 ++
Things are getting worse.  Didn't used to be that you had 12-year-olds posting obscene YouTubes from the back of the school bus.  And yet if the parents themselves are in a 'don't ask don't judge don't tell' mindset then who's to blame?
There's a presumption that if Society (capital S) will 'send the right messages' -- whatever those are -- then mankind will evolve naturally.  Sigh.
For 5000 years it worked quite a bit better from a different paradigm.  ... Paglia has been really good on this theme lately; have you read her?


I hadn't noticed that the Anderson piece was a column.  Without a trace of irony intended:  I can't tell the difference between a report and an op-ed in Seattle any more.  I really can't.


(assuming of course that's who you meant?)
I'm reading her wiki page right now (I know it's a far cry from a true source but it gives a good starting point if you've got your own 'filters' active while reading it).
Reading people like her make me wish I was smarter...or maybe I just wish I was more educated not sure which it is. Do you have any suggestions for reading on the subjec? I just finished writing another trashy space opera/fantasy ebook and could use something to restock the old juices :-)


Here is an analysis of the modern University PC atmosphere.
Here is a Q-and-A that will give you a feel for the arts-culture-and-sociology territory she works.
Here is old-school-feminist vs new-school-feminist debate.
Some thoughts on how women should appropriately combine power with feminine mystique.
I'm guessing you'll really enjoy her Jonezie.  :- )


I wish I was half the wordsmith that she is. Seems like an awfully steep hill to climb from my current vantage point though. A few examples in no particular order:
"The earth is littered with the ruins of empires that believed they were eternal."
"This is the true feminine mystique which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences."
"The...skills of the upper-middle-class elite are presented as the highest desideratum the ultimate evolutionary point of humanity."
"The modern economy with its vast production and distribution network is a male epic in which women have found a productive role — but women were not its author."
I can see why she rankles so many people. That was a thoroughly enjoyable set of articles Doc. Thank you very much; I'll try to reciprocate somehow in the future though I'm literally an unread boor compared to many on this site yourself included :-)


At times she seems like she speaks in Shakespearean iambic pentameter.  neo-feminists hate her so much precisely because they fear her.  Her old Salon.com columns would instantly fill with 100's of screechingly outraged protests that Salon would hire her and allow her to speak.
One introduced her by saying "an afternoon with Paglia feels like a mental aerobics class."  Watch her live interviews and you'll get a sense for how hopelessly outclassed her enemies are in real time.
She's one of a kind no doubts there ...
A sad state of affairs when a classic 1960's Christian is grateful to run into a classic 1960's militant feminist ;- )


The link to her Salon columns from a couple of years ago.  They're more entertaining because they're about 50% towards light commentary on modern music and art.  She veers from there into political commentary believing that art reflects life.
You wanna talk info-tainment eh :- )
Check out the one that acknowledges Sarah Palin's intelligence.  The comments start with "SALON STOP THE INSANITY" and get funnier from there.  The commenters are of course 95% sneering vs. 5% substance.  But they sneer in such inventive ways.


You know someone's onto something when they can enrage both of the polarized 'sides' of a given issue in the same article although the one you linked is definitely more angry progressives than libertarians.
I've always found it amusing when people like Paglia - by which I mean: outspoken intellectuals who don't dogmatically follow the party/establishment line - get so much irrational emotional anger directed at them. If anything that's the hallmark of an argument which makes me seek to investigate it more thoroughly.
Loved this set of reads Doc. I genuinely don't see how I can reciprocate the effort you went to by collecting the links for me but I'll try to think of a way.

MKL's picture

Recently a friend I hadn't heard from for a few months reached out to us. Turns out her boyfriend had been physically and mentally abusing her. She had bruises all over her body and he had covered her mouth with a pillow and nearly suffocated her several times. She stayed with us for a while but tried to go back to him one day ( a call to her mother helped jolt her back).
These things simply don't happen from women to men. Despite all that she still didn't even want to move forward with charges; the pain of reliving what she had gone through was too much. I 100% support a zero tolerance rule on domestic violence. Perhaps I am being facile but that is a mistake you don't get to make without lifetime consequences. He is free to rejoin society and I am free not to support sports teams who employ such people. Perhaps I need to find a new hobby because I don't think the Hawks are different than any other team....


Not sure what you mean there.  With respect to age-17 drinking it means one beer and a teenage driver will receive a strict application of penalties ... from the correct representatives of our society working in the judicial system.
By 'zero tolerance' we usually mean that we don't 'accept' antisocial behavior.  Certainly Clark's behavior has not been 'accepted':  he was arrested charged and punished.  And beyond that he's been harshly stigmatized.
My own daughter (as opposed to a friend) has been abused and seriously.  I did not call for her abuser to suffer 'lifetime consequences' for any infraction within the category; I wanted his punishment calibrated by somebody qualified and sensitive to the rights of society and the victim.
Can sympathize with those who want to be harsh with bullies.  Harder to sympathize with those who want to deal out max punishment without balance.  You too may be in the hands of Big Brother some day...

MLK's picture

My deepest sympathies to what you and your daughter went through. It is hard to process how some people can be so cruel. I certainly haven't figured out how to process it yet. Not sure of the need to minimize my experience because I am not related to the abused person but that's tangential to the overall point.
Let me clarify what I mean by Zero Tolerance. I support an employer's right not to employ someone because they have committed domestic abuse as a broad principle. One of my favorite aspects of sports is the friendly tribalism the ability to say I am a mariner fan and these are the people I root for. I have less desire to wear a Seahawks shirt now then I did before. I don't believe in thoughtless applications of such principles; to use your example I think the existing law that someone under 21 who is pulled over with a .01 BAC can be given a DUI is not a well calibrated punishment.
I believe Frank Clark is free to live his life and any employer can run a background check and decide if that is a person they want associated with their brand and they want to work with. I think certain professions require higher moral character than others. Professional athletes are venerated role models in this country whether they like it are not. If I was convicted of embezzlement I don't think I would be able to find a job as a CFO no matter how repentant I truly was. The value of that comparison may depend upon how much you feel representing high moral character is a job requirement of a football player but it is one for me.
To the extent that we demand violence on the field from players and forbid it from all other walks of life I cede the point. It does make me question my fandom of the sport in general. I do note that the vast majority of football players (of which I am a former one) don't seem to struggle with the distinction.
I believe you are free not to have this impact your opinion of the Seahawks. I can feel differently and have less desire to root for the team when they employ someone who has battered women. If the team decides that there are more people like me who feel that way and make a business decision not to employ domestic abusers I support that decision. That is what I meant by zero tolerance.
Perhaps Frank Clark is truly remorseful understands the harm his actions have caused and is working to make up that damage beyond what is legally required of him. I don't know enough of the situation to judge. I do know overall statistics of how many abusers are repeat offenders and how many incidents of abuse are unreported. So It may be a moral failing of mine that I don't give Frank Clark every benefit of the doubt but it is not the way I feel.


One thing is for certain - the Times isn't going to let this one go. Lots of stories lots of reads lots of comments. It's hit a nerve in Seattle.

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