Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bloggolalia: I Like the Cavs...and General Howe was a Sexually Reckless Fool who Lost the War

Weird beginning, right? You come here to read my takes on sports, and all of a sudden, you get a dose of my take on something totally different. But it's really not that unusual for sports bloggers to go on a tangent. By our very nature, we're sharing our perspective on the story. With luck, my perspective is a little different than yours in ways that amuse and intrigue, but also similar to yours in ways that reassure and lead to a common understanding. The goal is to be different from the reader and pique curiosity, but not in such a way that drives the reader away from the site.

However, sometimes, the problem is that when I write my story, my biases become the story. I write a post in such a way that it is uniquely for me, by me. Because I'm in a rush, I use shorthand, and just assume that everyone knows that Shaq is a childish bully (whoops, can't say that anymore, he's on the Cavs!), or that my views on, say, women, gays, or the Philadelphia Eagles are how my audience thinks. Problem is, that's probably not true. And at times, that can be quite unfair to my reader. I've certainly seen other bloggers quietly drive away audience segments with their ignorance about how other types of people think--whether it be city vs. country, Democrat vs. Republican, or even racism.

This brings me to the inspiration for this blog--a bit of a disagreement a post by Bethlehem Shoals of Free Darko and SportingNews. It's too bad I have to use this as an example, because other bloggers are much worse than Shoals. Quite honestly, it's because of the respect I have for his writing, perhaps, that I pick on his article. I bought his book and generally liked his stuff, although I haven't followed it too closely lately. While reading Twitter, I saw a tweet of his that said "Allan Houston among the Christ-killers?!". It pricked my interest, and I went over and read the article.

I'll spare you the specifics; you can read my serious, strained comments and Shoal's attempts at witty one-liners at your leisure. My objection was mainly how Shoals' writing seemed like a sneaky generalization.

The first part of Shoals' post was a recounting of a sad misunderstanding where, essentially, some Christians on the Knicks were embarrassingly aggressive in trying to convert a Jewish reporter. It was quite a mess, but settled down after Ward backed down. As one of the last articles on it, by Josh Ozersky, said,

"Language such as Ward used naturally gives Jewish people the willies, conjuring as it does historical memories of pogroms and massacres…But how many Jews can say that they really understand evangelical Christians?"

However, I was annoyed at Bethlehem's attempted comedic take on Allan Houston's visit to Israel. I felt that Shoals was being deliberately short with the truth to make Allan Houston and his visit look bad. Nothing Shoals said was quite false...but it wasn't the whole truth, either.

Shoals is Jewish. I understand that he no doubt has strong opinions on Christians based on common experiences and many years of often miserable, tragic evil that Christians have caused Jews. But I don't see why Allan Houston has to pay the price for the Spanish Inquisition, or the ranting pastor on 78th and Broadway who may have hollered at Shoals to repent when he was 7. I don't see why I, as a Christian reader who was a fan of Shoals, have to put up with random bias when all I'm looking for is a funny, interesting take on sports. It's funny how bloggers writing about bias inevitably end up including their own. The last words of Ozerky's article certainly apply to Shoals; he doesn't get evangelical Christians, and his attempt at witticism was insulting to me.

Yeah, I'm being a punk about this. I do my best never to play the "I'm offended" card on here about other bloggers, but I am getting annoyed. More and more, I'm seeing an assumption among sports bloggers that all their readers share their views, and that's just not true at all. I don't go to Deadspin to read up on Democratic politics. I don't visit The Big Lead's morning round-up to find out who the latest hot reality TV star is (ok, well maybe that one Tuesday, but I was bored!). And I don't read NBA blogs to breathlessly find out that you do/do not like Christianity (circle one). If you agree with my religion, sweet, but I hope you also can tell me how in the world Lebron is getting through the season without smacking Shaq upside his arrogant head. If you don't, that's fine, there's millions like you, and we can still get long as you don't make it an issue. And if you can't deal with a known controversial topic like Christianity, or race, or homosexuality straight on, in a balanced, mature manner, then don't touch it at all, ok? The world can do without one more stereotype.