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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby to be on-field together for the Gillette Civil Rights Game

The Hammer, The Greatest…and Mushmouth?

As the three MLB Beacon Award winners, Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby will be on-field together for pre-game ceremonies at Great American Ball Park as Major League Baseball (MLB) celebrates the 2009 Gillette Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati on June 20. The game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox is the first regular season Civil Rights Game after two pre-season exhibitions.

“The 2009 Gillette Civil Rights Game, as one of the premier events on the Major League Baseball calendar, honors both the civil rights movement and also the legacy of three great Americans who exemplify the spirit of this era in their deeds, actions and words,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.

In addition to the pre-game ceremony featuring Aaron, Ali and Cosby, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson will throw out the first pitch and Grammy Award-winning gospel artist BeBe Winans will be performing the National Anthem and a special rendition of his original composition “America, America.” Country music star Rissi Palmer will perform “America The Beautiful” and 17-year-old sensation Bernard “BK” Jackson will play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his saxophone, during the 7th inning stretch.

Repoz Posted: June 17, 2009 at 09:00 PM | 258 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, special topics

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   201. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:30 PM (#3224958)
Actually, there was another player that signed with Jackie but quickly flamed out and has been forgotten by history. I even have a baseball card of him but I can't think of his name. This is going to drive me nuts now.

Is it Dan Bankhead? Or someone else?
   202. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:32 PM (#3224961)
Is it Dan Bankhead? Or someone else?

Not Bankhead. He actually got a cup of coffee with the Dodgers. Crap. I need my Riley!
   203. RJ in TO Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:32 PM (#3224962)
Is it Dan Bankhead? Or someone else?


Wiki says it was John Wright.
   204. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:33 PM (#3224964)
Johnny Wright! It was Johnny Wright. Jackie signed in October 1945 and Wright in January of 1946.

edit: Coke, blah blah
   205. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:42 PM (#3224979)
   206. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3224985)
Fascinating stuff, Shooty. I'd vaguely remembered reading about him, but none of the details (and obviously was confusing him with Bankhead).
   207. phredbird Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3224992)
And, finally, I wish Treder and Srul, two self-professed progressives, would stop closing their minds to different views.


you've got to be kidding. they've been getting a little hot under the collar, but they have not been close-minded. YR trots out a bunch of boxing facts, makes a highly debatable comment, then spends the rest of the thread deflecting and avoiding reasoned criticism thereof, larding on more boxing facts that don't make any difference to the debate. and YR's feelings have been hurt because treder implied that he is a racist, so the btf r/w contingent does what they do best, they get righteous and start their own ad hominen stuff.

nuts.
   208. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:51 PM (#3224995)
Fascinating stuff, Shooty. I'd vaguely remembered reading about him, but none of the details (and obviously was confusing him with Bankhead).

I wonder what happened to him. I would dearly love to read a good book about his experiences. Jackie's story has just swallowed his completely.
   209. Rich Rifkin Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:54 PM (#3225001)
1) America at this time became a more overtly racist nation as a result of the social factors which Rifkin brought up in #62: increased immigration of poor whites, and migration of blacks to urban centers in the northern US.
a bebop a rebop, thanks for the nod, but I forgot to mention what you point out about black migration in this period. That slipped my mind and may well have been the most important factor: a white backlash against blacks in the wake of greater exposure to blacks in these urban centers. One of the best books I've ever read on this period in American history is "The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America" by Nicholas Lemann. I can't overstate what a great, great read this book* is. It largely focuses on the migration out of the state of Mississippi and up the Mississippi River to places like St. Louis and Chicago. Of all the things I remember from it, what stuck with me most clearly is the role the mechanical harvester had in driving blacks off of Southern farms and into Northern factories. The demand for farm labor fell dramatically in some crops, due to better tractor technology; and at the same time, demand for unskilled factory labor in the North was rising. The result was a migration that in total numbers was greater than the exodus of poor Europeans to the United States at the end of the 19th C. and beginning of the 20th Century.

*Sadly, I no longer own a copy of it. I'm something of a bibliophile and love to own copies of the books I've read over the years. I like having them around to thumb through for reference or to shove down the throats of friends who might enjoy them. When I read The Promised Land, I was dating a black chick, who was pleased I was interested in "black history.** I lent her my copy and forgot to ask for it back when she dumped me. My buddy "Tex" (if I had a buddy Tex) said, "See what happens when you date black chicks?"

**I have a minor qualm with the notion of "black history" or "black studies." To me, these normally belong in American history and American studies and by segregating them in separate departments, I think they are given less weight in the academy. I don't think it's necessary that every college and university has a separate "black studies" or "Chicano studies" department. (They all do, of course.) Nonetheless, I do think that there is some value in looking at these subjects as subjects into themselves. I am aware that, among sub-groups in American history, the black American experience is very important from our beginning and quite unique in terms of how it related to the larger American experience. For that, I think maybe 10 or 20 "black studies" departments would suffice across all of the U.S. (I realize, of course, that there is no way to go from 1,000 departments of any type to 20, just by saying, "that would be enough.")
   210. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:54 PM (#3225004)
YR trots out a bunch of boxing facts, makes a highly debatable comment, then spends the rest of the thread deflecting and avoiding reasoned criticism thereof, larding on more boxing facts that don't make any difference to the debate. and YR's feelings have been hurt because treder implied that he is a racist, so the btf r/w contingent does what they do best, they get righteous and start their own ad hominen stuff.

Sadly accurate.

And Srul can speak for himself, obviously, but as for me, racist and homophobic nonsense, no matter how civilly presented, are not "different views" I choose to value.
   211. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:56 PM (#3225010)
I would dearly love to read a good book about his experiences. Jackie's story has just swallowed his completely.

It doesn't deal with Bankhead exclusively, but a book I can't recommend highly enough is Crossing the Line: Black Major Leaguers 1947-1959, by Kronstadt and Moffi.
   212. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 19, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3225015)
Thanks Steve. I'm surprised I haven't run into that book before. The other book I wish someone would write or pay me to write would be about Jimmy Newberry and Johnny Britton, the first two black ballplayers in Japan in, I think, 1950. That has race and post-war Japanese-American relations going on. It must have been a hell of an experience for those two guys.
   213. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 19, 2009 at 06:17 PM (#3225062)
I was merely pointing out that it's not really fair to vilify people because they didn't perfectly measure the racial climate of the society before they acted.

And especially when you consider that the all-time baseball poster boy shared so many of Johnson's character traits.
   214. JC in DC Posted: June 19, 2009 at 06:26 PM (#3225077)
And Srul can speak for himself, obviously, but as for me, racist and homophobic nonsense, no matter how civilly presented, are not "different views" I choose to value.


What did he say that was racist?
   215. phredbird Posted: June 19, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3225094)
I was merely pointing out that it's not really fair to vilify people because they didn't perfectly measure the racial climate of the society before they acted.

And especially when you consider that the all-time baseball poster boy shared so many of Johnson's character traits.


bingo.
   216. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 06:52 PM (#3225132)
wow. if you can't see what's wrong here, you have got serious comprehension problems. if you think that's solely a value neutral statement of business principles, all the poring over boxing history in the world isn't going to fix the problems with your world view, and it seriously calls into question your self-proclaimed title of boxing 'historian'. you're just a repository. that's it. you are a repository.

and i meant that to sting!


Float like an anvil, sting like a moth
You've offered up nothing but cognitive sloth
   217. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:03 PM (#3225151)
YR trots out a bunch of boxing facts, makes a highly debatable comment, then spends the rest of the thread deflecting and avoiding reasoned criticism thereof, larding on more boxing facts that don't make any difference to the debate. and YR's feelings have been hurt because treder implied that he is a racist, so the btf r/w contingent does what they do best, they get righteous and start their own ad hominen stuff.

Sadly accurate.


If you think that's an accurate summary, that in itself is sad. Not the least of my qualms would be the claim that my feelings have been hurt on this thread; if anything of mine has been hurt it may be my superior rectus muscle as I repeatedly rolled my eyes at your shrill hand-waving and accusations of racism.

Of course facts make a difference in this debate. Context matters. History matters. The opinions of firsthand participants matters.
   218. phredbird Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:09 PM (#3225158)
Of course facts make a difference in this debate. Context matters. History matters. The opinions of firsthand participants matters.


then apply some critical thinking to them.

look, skip it. i'll be back to you when i need to know what color trunks abe allan wore when he clocked corky corcoran at the old palace in aught 7.
   219. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3225161)
Still, you have your interpretation and Ward has his; I am no expert, but I know enough to know that others disagree with you.

In any case, heavyweight champions of most eras have defended their titles sparingly. Johnson held the title a little over 6 1/2 years and defended it nine times. Jess Willard defended his twice in four years. Dempsey defended his six times in seven years. Title bouts were hard to arrange, and promoters had no interest in matching Johnson against anybody but a "white hope" – at least, that's Ward's interpretation.


Well I doubt there's any aspect of history that offers unanimity of opinion. I'd advise you to inspect the record yourself and come to your own conclusions as to why Johnson refused to fight another black man as champion.

I'm aware of the frequency with which heavyweight champions of that era defended their titles. Truth be told, there was more money to be made touring the country giving exhibitions or appearing on stage. John L Sullivan and Jim Corbett boxed an exhibition in full tuxedos, Jim Jeffries appeared in a play "The Man From the West", and Bob Fitzsimmons actually gave blacksmithing exhibitions and gave away fresh horseshoes to the crowd.

Johnson was not an inactive champion for his time, and I've never made such a claim. However, it is hard to argue that Johnson steadfastly refused to fight the top contenders of his era - not just the 3 elite black heavyweights in McVea, Langford, and Jeanette, but also top white contender Gunboat Smith. Jess Willard was viewed as something of a big oaf, otherwise he may have never gotten his shot either.
   220. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:12 PM (#3225166)
then apply some critical thinking to them.


Done and done. I'm sorry I can't echo your conclusions, you'll have to be content to look down your nose at me from Olympus.

look, skip it. i'll be back to you when i need to know what color trunks abe allan wore when he clocked corky corcoran at the old palace in aught 7.


Don't be so snide, because of this thread you've learned of the great pre-Johnson black champions of yore, men whose great contributions towards the integration of sport have been largely overlooked while Johnson was lauded from a safe historical distance. If you think Joe Gans and George Dixon are punchlines to your comedy you've allowed yourself to remain willfully ignorant of some great American sportsmen.
   221. tfbg9 Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:19 PM (#3225173)
You'll find no greater admirer of Jackie Robinson than me.


Unintentionally hilarious? I think so.

Yeah we get it Steve, we get it. You don't really need to lay into it so much.

But tell me one thing?

Do your knees ache from praying on those temple steps?
   222. a bebop a rebop Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:19 PM (#3225174)
Of course facts make a difference in this debate. Context matters. History matters. The opinions of firsthand participants matters.

I can't help but note that your evasion to my post #157. You responded to part of the post by saying "Johnson knew the requirements placed on him by white America, and chose not to live by those requirements." Which is ridiculous: you blame him for not kowtowing to racists.

But you didn't respond to the fundamental assertion, which is that it is racist to expect behavior of him which you do not expect of Ty Cobb.

This bob-and-weave has been nonstop throughout this thread, and it's frustrating to hear you claim that you are the one who's arguing honestly.
   223. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:24 PM (#3225188)
I can't help but note that your evasion to my post #157. You responded to part of the post by saying "Johnson knew the requirements placed on him by white America, and chose not to live by those requirements." Which is ridiculous: you blame him for not kowtowing to racists.

But you didn't respond to the fundamental assertion, which is that it is racist to expect behavior of him which you do not expect of Ty Cobb.

This bob-and-weave has been nonstop throughout this thread, and it's frustrating to hear you claim that you are the one who's arguing honestly.


Also sadly accurate.
   224. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 07:49 PM (#3225219)
I can't help but note that your evasion to my post #157.


I admit I'm having difficulty in keeping up with the torrent of abusive slurs and misinformed supposition aimed at me on this thread and that some valid questions or claims may have escaped notice. If so, I apologize, I truly am doing the best I can.

You responded to part of the post by saying "Johnson knew the requirements placed on him by white America, and chose not to live by those requirements." Which is ridiculous: you blame him for not kowtowing to racists.


I blame him for ignoring the reality of his time and the existence of a legal system which outlawed interracial marriages in a majority of states. I further blame him to turning his back on every other black fighter in the sport while using his status and wealth to ensure his own comforts and career were kept safe. As I've stated repeatedly, Johnson didn't bear the brunt of the backlash he himself instigated, Langford, Jeanette, McVea, and Wills did.

To claim that Johnson was "not kowtowing to racists" is as tone-deaf and naive as claiming that a gay athlete who solicits sex in bathrooms is "not kowtowing to homophobes". These accepted social standards are not secrets. From your 21st century throne you can see that any anti-miscegenation laws of Johnson's era were misguided, and perhaps some 100 years hence some futuristic beebop-a-reebob will telepathically point out that laws against adults soliciting gay sex in public restrooms were struck down as unduly repressive. That still wouldn't in any way absolve a person committing such acts today from the punishment society deems appropriate for what is currently considered a transgression.

But you didn't respond to the fundamental assertion, which is that it is racist to expect behavior of him which you do not expect of Ty Cobb.


Aside from the obvious fact that Ty Cobb played in a much more repressive and less enlightened sport than Johnson did, I don't see the similarities. When did Cobb run afoul of the anti-miscegenation hysteria of his era? Indeed, Cobb was the first to hurl racial slurs himself, even claiming Babe Ruth was part negro. I'm skeptical that he secretly kept a black wife hidden from the sporting press of his day.
   225. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: June 19, 2009 at 08:36 PM (#3225283)
From your 21st century throne you can see that any anti-miscegenation laws of Johnson's era were misguided, and perhaps some 100 years hence some futuristic beebop-a-reebob will telepathically point out that laws against adults soliciting gay sex in public restrooms were struck down as unduly repressive. That still wouldn't in any way absolve a person committing such acts today from the punishment society deems appropriate for what is currently considered a transgression.


I don't believe that I've been anything but respectful in engaging you. I merely said you were wrong. It's your choice to engage those who are less respectful to you, but it's pretty lame to then whine how you are the only respectful voice of reason.

The above quoted section is the issue that I've addressed repeatedly. Anti-miscegenation laws being awesome before and bad now is only one perspective is a very dangerous one when you consider that we are now talking about contemporary historiography rather than changing societal attitudes.

There have always been those who have fought anti-miscegenation and those who simply chose to ignore such laws and mores at varying risk to themselves (usually variable according to their ethnicity and gender).

Whether the ethnic majority mores were at the time, there were those who stood against them, and they were imperfect and human and courageous. To attack them for being imperfect and excuse those who upheld the hateful social order as products of their times is to utterly miss the point as to how things changed.

I understand your point that in that slippery process, mistakes can set back the struggle to right such wrongs. This is true. But those mistakes are by definition a part of struggling against injustice, and if people were to follow your advice and avoid those as the most egregious sins, the changes you see would have never occurred, and I, like many others would still be regarded as:
"A mongrel of the most detestable that has ever afflicted the earth"
   226. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2009 at 08:49 PM (#3225295)
From your 21st century throne you can see that any anti-miscegenation laws of Johnson's era were misguided, and perhaps some 100 years hence some futuristic beebop-a-reebob will telepathically point out that laws against adults soliciting gay sex in public restrooms were struck down as unduly repressive. That still wouldn't in any way absolve a person committing such acts today from the punishment society deems appropriate for what is currently considered a transgression.
I want to be clear here: you believe that a black man in 1915 who loved a white woman deserved the punishment his society deemed appropriate for their relationship?

That's what this paragraph seems to me to be saying, but I want to ask you to either confirm or clarify. Thanks.
   227. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 09:38 PM (#3225356)

I don't believe that I've been anything but respectful in engaging you. I merely said you were wrong. It's your choice to engage those who are less respectful to you, but it's pretty lame to then whine how you are the only respectful voice of reason.


When have I ever? I'll admit I'm not quick to throw around accusations of racism and turd status but that's mainly because I don't see the point. This being the internet I assumed I could jump directly to "You wouldn't say that to my face you wuss," followed by the inevitable challenge to meet in an Octagon cage.

The above quoted section is the issue that I've addressed repeatedly. Anti-miscegenation laws being awesome before and bad now


I never said they were awesome at any time. They were, however, real. When you live in the real, fallen world, you're forced to deal with reality as it exists; Oscar Wilde too pretended to live in a more idealistic age in his own head and suffered consequences as well. That's life. Ignore it at your own peril.

Whether the ethnic majority mores were at the time, there were those who stood against them, and they were imperfect and human and courageous. To attack them for being imperfect and excuse those who upheld the hateful social order as products of their times is to utterly miss the point as to how things changed.


Attacking someone as being "imperfect" seems a worthless endeavor; even the crucified savior undoubtedly had BO.

In regard to "the point as to how things changed", the very thrust of my argument was replete with evidence about how things changed *for the worse* as a result of Johnson's selfish attitude. The "hateful social order" of the time is the same order that granted Johnson the heavyweight title shot previously denied to Denver Ed Martin and Aussie Peter Jackson, the same order that made Joe Gans one of the most successful athletes, regardless of color, in the country, and the same order that had Tex Rickard writing numerous 5-figure checks to black men for the honor of staging their competitions. Black progress in boxing was undeniable and progressing rapidly. Johnson's black contemporaries understood only too well the toll his actions would exact on all of their innocent compatriots.
   228. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2009 at 09:43 PM (#3225360)
I never said they were awesome at any time. They were, however, real. When you live in the real, fallen world, you're forced to deal with reality as it exists; Oscar Wilde too pretended to live in a more idealistic age in his own head and suffered consequences as well. That's life. Ignore it at your own peril.
But the world does change. In fact, it's changed for the better, precisely because lots of people broke the rules. It's certainly true that one must deal with the world as it is, but this does not mean that ethical action requires following all of the rules imposed upon one by society, and it's quite clear historically that one very effective way of producing social change is by breaking unjust rules and forcing those in power either to reveal the violence that undergirds those unjust rules, or to surrender and allow the rules to change.

As I asked in #226, are you claiming that Oscar Wilde deserved to suffer those consequences, as a normative claim? The fact that there are consequences for breaking rules doesn't mean that all rules are good, or that rules ought to be followed. I'm trying to get at a pretty simple is/ought distinction here - E-X is talking in the language of ought, and you're responding in the language of is. Are you saying that because there are consequences, therefore the punishment is deserved? That the is produces the ought? This seems wrong, but otherwise I don't understand why you think that response follows.
   229. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 09:54 PM (#3225367)
I want to be clear here: you believe that a black man in 1915 who loved a white woman deserved the punishment his society deemed appropriate for their relationship?


Love? Before we go any further I humbly suggest you read up on Johnson's marriage to first wife Etta. The attempt to recast Johnson as a dewy-eyed romantic is easily the most ridiculous thing written on this thread. Even Johnson's fellow boxing colleagues recoiled at his treatment of her, this from men in a sport where wife abuse was appallingly common.

Johnson's second wife, Lucille, was a prostitute he married when his first wife's body was barely cold. Johnson was her "business manager", as he was for Belle Schreiber, another prostitute and the one whose testimony earned Johnson his conviction of violating the Mann Act.

Love? I'd posit that if Johnson had a truly loving relationship with the whitest Klansman's daughter he wouldn't have received a fraction of the scrutiny he did.
   230. a bebop a rebop Posted: June 19, 2009 at 09:56 PM (#3225369)
226++

EDIT: 229 is another example of what I mean by evasion.
   231. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:03 PM (#3225375)
EDIT: 229 is another example of what I mean by evasion.

Precisely. Whether Johnson genuinely loved his wives/girlfriends or not has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the question posed regarding the issue at hand: miscegenation.

This tap-dancing has been performed all thread long.
   232. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:04 PM (#3225378)
Yeah, that's simply not an answer to my question. Could you please answer, because I am having great difficulty figuring out what your normative position is.
   233. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:04 PM (#3225380)
But the world does change. In fact, it's changed for the better, precisely because lots of people broke the rules.


In this case, it clearly changed for the worse. As I've noted before, there was no great outcry of sympathy for Johnson in the same black community that had lauded him for being their first heavyweight champion. Recall my earlier recounting of the abysmal box office receipts from his later title defenses - there was no deluge of black fight fans waiting to see Johnson in the ring. His black prizefighting contemporaries openly reviled him.

Not everyone who violates a social norm is Rosa Parks. Some are just selfish jerks who think the rules shouldn't apply to them because they are wealthy and famous.

As I asked in #226, are you claiming that Oscar Wilde deserved to suffer those consequences, as a normative claim?


I think it's fairly obvious that Wilde brought much of the disapprobation on himself with his arrogance. I'm certainly no Wilde scholar though, so feel free to say otherwise.

I'm trying to get at a pretty simple is/ought distinction here - E-X is talking in the language of ought, and you're responding in the language of is. Are you saying that because there are consequences, therefore the punishment is deserved?


More accurate to say that "because there are consequences, the punishment is to be expected."
   234. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:08 PM (#3225386)
More accurate to say that "because there are consequences, the punishment is to be expected."
Which, again, isn't an answer.

Look, this is the problem. Let's grant, arguendo, that Johnson was a jerk. It is wrong, deeply and profoundly wrong, to punish a jerk for marrying a woman of another race. I'll note that you have never said that Johnson hurt the cause of integration by his spousal abuse or his promiscuity (arguendo), but rather you have said that Johnson hurt the cause of integration by marrying and by having sex with white women. Those acts (sex and marriage) are not wrong, they are not to be condemned, the negative effects stemming from those acts are to be blamed on the racists who thought those acts were wrong.
I think it's fairly obvious that Wilde brought much of the disapprobation on himself with his arrogance.
Seriously? Seriously? Wow.
   235. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:09 PM (#3225387)
Precisely. Whether Johnson genuinely loved his wives/girlfriends or not has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the question posed regarding the issue at hand: miscegenation.


I certainly never brought the canard of "love" into the conversation. Frankly it seemed a loaded question. Still, I was happy to educate, nothing I've said was anything less than easily verifiable, and yet the same cast of charactetures seems to waste little time in hoisting up the pitchforks and torches.
   236. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:09 PM (#3225389)
are you claiming that Oscar Wilde deserved to suffer those consequences, as a normative claim?


I think it's fairly obvious that Wilde brought much of the disapprobation on himself with his arrogance.

Are you saying that because there are consequences, therefore the punishment is deserved?


More accurate to say that "because there are consequences, the punishment is to be expected."

Fred Astaire would be put to shame.
   237. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:11 PM (#3225392)
Love? I'd posit that if Johnson had a truly loving relationship with the whitest Klansman's daughter he wouldn't have received a fraction of the scrutiny he did.

Well, um, er, ah.....Maybe not if they'd made off to Mars, or at least to Paris. I think you're on a lot stronger grounds when you stick to Johnson's treatment of other black heavyweights.
   238. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:13 PM (#3225394)
Which, again, isn't an answer.


When I say, "More accurate to say that "because there are consequences, the punishment is to be expected", how is that not an answer to your question, "Are you saying that because there are consequences, therefore the punishment is deserved?"

I'm much more comfortable discussing history than philosophy.
   239. The District Attorney Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:15 PM (#3225399)
Wordy explanations that say nothing substantive + "you're all ganging up on me" = the EXACT, exact same thing pedophile guy was doing in the Mel Hall thread. Where do these people come from? Lordy.
   240. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:15 PM (#3225402)
Fred Astaire would be put to shame.


Are you interested in joining the dance, or are you content to be a wallflower with large floppy shoes expectorating poorly-aimed spitballs?
   241. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:16 PM (#3225405)
When I say, "More accurate to say that "because there are consequences, the punishment is to be expected", how is that not an answer to your question, "Are you saying that because there are consequences, therefore the punishment is deserved?"

Because it doesn't address, at all, the issue of the deservedness of the punishment. At all.
   242. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:19 PM (#3225409)
I think it's fairly obvious that Wilde brought much of the disapprobation on himself with his arrogance.

Seriously? Seriously? Wow.


Are you saying Wilde *wasn't* setting himself up for a fall when he sued the Marquis of Queensberry for calling him a sodomite when he was, in fact, a sodomite?

Seriously? Seriously? Wow.
   243. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:21 PM (#3225411)
Here's why the ethical question is important.

If we grant, arguendo, that Johnson's actions did have some causal relationship with the tightening of segregation in professional boxing, it does not follow that Johnson is meaningfully ethically responsible for the tightening of segregation in professional boxing. If the rules which he broke were unjust, if the effects of his rule-breaking were the fault of various and sundry racists in his society, I do not see him as holding meaningful ethical responsibility for the tightening of segregation in professional boxing.
   244. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:26 PM (#3225421)

Because it doesn't address, at all, the issue of the deservedness of the punishment. At all.


Who am I to judge who "deserves" to be punished 100 years after the fact? The real crux is whether Johnson knew he'd face sanctions for his actions, which he obviously did. From my comfortable 21st century vantage point I don't think Louis the 16th deserved his punishment but that doesn't mean I think the French citizenry didn't have a right to be aggrieved.
   245. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:32 PM (#3225432)
Here's why the ethical question is important.

If we grant, arguendo


I'm afraid you've already lost me. All of my Latin is confined to taxonomy and anatomy.

that Johnson's actions did have some causal relationship with the tightening of segregation in professional boxing, it does not follow that Johnson is meaningfully ethically responsible for the tightening of segregation in professional boxing.


But these are lawyerly haggles over the nature of justice, and I really didn't offer my historical perspective to debate whether a man may steal bread to feed his starving family. How does one quantify ethical culpability? Why would one even try?

If the rules which he broke were unjust, if the effects of his rule-breaking were the fault of various and sundry racists in his society, I do not see him as holding meaningful ethical responsibility for the tightening of segregation in professional boxing.


That's all well and good from your comfortable vantage point. It doesn't really help Sam Langford or Harry Wills. They lived the cost of Johnson's selfishness, you're merely an semi-interested tourist well after the fact.
   246. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:33 PM (#3225433)
Who am I to judge who "deserves" to be punished 100 years after the fact?

You have no trouble whatsoever judging the ethical worthiness of Johnson's behavior, and yet you're unable to judge that of Tex Rickard or anyone else within the white power structure, including those touting and enforcing miscegenation sanctions. Can you understand what's so troubling about this to some of us?
   247. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3225442)
Wordy explanations that say nothing substantive + "you're all ganging up on me" = the EXACT, exact same thing pedophile guy was doing in the Mel Hall thread.


I'm certainly being assigned to good company. Oh lordy lordy, even Nat Fleisher couldn't save me now.
   248. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:40 PM (#3225444)
That's all well and good from your comfortable vantage point. It doesn't really help Sam Langford or Harry Wills. They lived the cost of Johnson's selfishness, you're merely an semi-interested tourist well after the fact.
These words mark a strong normative judgment. You clearly have absolutely no problem making philosophical rather than historical claims. If you had no normative case to make, you could simply say, "One of the effects which can be traced back to Johnson's actions is that Wills and Langford did not receive title shots". But for you, Johnson's actions are clearly to be condemned as "selfishness" and placing an unjust "cost" on other people. That's precisely what I've been disputing, and you need to respond rather than falsely pretending not to be talking in terms of norms and judgments.
   249. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:53 PM (#3225467)
You have no trouble whatsoever judging the ethical worthiness of Johnson's behavior


"You do the crime, you do the time" isn't really too highfalutin' a statement of ethical worth. I thought I was fairly straightforward in this regard when I stated, "because there are consequences, the punishment is to be expected".

and yet you're unable to judge that of Tex Rickard or anyone else within the white power structure


Tex Rickard's bona fides as a promoter of black prizefighters certainly outstrip either of ours. Tex was open about how Jack Johnson made the heavyweight title unmarketable, just a few years after Tex helped make Joe Gans the most marketable fighter in the world. I think your problem stems from the bluntness of Rickard's language, so accustomed are our modern ears to the hedges and mellifluous dodges of our PR-oriented culture. Again, these weren't the words of know-nothing internet carps 100 years later.

I'd have liked Rickard to have matched Harry Wills with Jack Dempsey but it was Rickard whose ox was gored by Johnson, not I. Certainly not you.

Can you understand what's so troubling about this to some of us?


Certainly, but empathy is not substitute for rationality. I certainly understand why Creationists are troubled by evolutionary theory but I don't see any need to equivocate and place a magic cloud of fairy dust in the Burgess Shale just to satisfy them.
   250. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 19, 2009 at 10:59 PM (#3225477)
These words mark a strong normative judgment. You clearly have absolutely no problem making philosophical rather than historical claims.


This claim is easily supported by historical record. That's the firsthand historical record, not the modern retrospective view. If your argument hinges on my characterization of Johnson as selfish, I suppose that is a fair matter of judgment, although a judgment well-supported by the historic record as well. Indeed, one of the truly remarkable aspects of Johnson is how little he did to benefit anyone other than himself, extending well after retirement when he offered to train "Aryan Superman" Max Schmelling on how to defeat black American Joe Louis.

I'll happily concede the point however, especially given that I'm not exactly sure what a "normative judgment" is.

Also, I'd be curious to know why you expressed such amazement regarding my opinion on Oscar Wilde's case. My wife is the literary scholar, not I, but I wasn't aware that there was much if any debate as to whether Wilde brought the scrutiny upon himself by arrogantly claiming not to be something he obviously was, to the point of initiating legal suit. It reminded me quite a bit of the Liberace lawsuit in the UK, although Liberace had better lawyers.
   251. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: June 19, 2009 at 11:00 PM (#3225478)
I don't know crap about boxing. In fact, I don't really care about boxing.

But I have been deeply, deeply, DEEPLY impressed by Yankee Redneck in this thread. His knowledge of prizefighting history, and his skill in telling the tales and marshalling the facts, has been a joy to read.
   252. Steve Treder Posted: June 19, 2009 at 11:09 PM (#3225493)
You do the crime, you do the time" isn't really too highfalutin' a statement of ethical worth.

These are quotes of yours in this thread:

We, as baseball fans, are quite fortunate to have been blessed with Mr. Robinson rather than the bigot Cassius Clay or his spiritual progenitor, heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson.


Jack Johnson's selfish antics


he so selfishly undermined the cause of black fighters for an entire generation, not only spurning black challengers openly but freely admitting his lust for white women exclusively, openly mocking white fighters in the ring, and generally affirming every negative stereotype associated with the negro. To act as if Johnson's selfish behavior had to long-lasting negative consequences amongst black fighters is simply incorrect, if not desperately revisionist.


Johnson didn't have an interest in anybody beyond Johnson, and that's to his eternal discredit


No other heavyweight champion in history boasts such a shameful legacy of ducking and hiding


Jack Johnson brought his cartoonish routine into the spotlight


This is only through post #52. I could go on and on and on, but it's already more than abundantly obvious that you've made judgment after judgment of Johnson's ethical worthiness that go far beyond "you do the crime, you do the time."

This is what's called intellectual dishonesty, dude.
   253. rr Posted: June 19, 2009 at 11:17 PM (#3225515)
But I have been deeply, deeply, DEEPLY impressed by Yankee Redneck in this thread. His knowledge of prizefighting history, and his skill in telling the tales and marshalling the facts, has been a joy to read.


Great. Do you think he's right?

I'd have liked Rickard to have matched Harry Wills with Jack Dempsey but it was Rickard whose ox was gored by Johnson, not I. Certainly not you
.

The "you and I" crap is just gratuitous snark, which I suppose I can see you engaging in given some earlier stuff thrown your way, although MCoA, who you are addressing there, has mostly stuck to issues, rather than focusing on personalities. The sentence before that is one problem I have: you are granting a massive amount of agency and effect to Johnson, rather than to prizefighting's "powerbrokers" as you called them. ISTM that if boxing was run by guys who wanted integration, and were making it work--which is what you have said was going on before Johnson poisoned the well--then, they could/would have moved past Johnson and continued doing so, absent a lot of other factors. You are, as far as I can understand it, saying Johnson's behavior was the major, indeed "only"--factor in some respects in this situation.

Given that Johnson was not a "power broker" as you used the term, and what I know about America at that time, I don't buy that.

Also, Matt's position AFAICT doesn't "hinge on" whether JJ was "selfish"--it hinges on the idea that other guys "lived the cost" of his selfishness and how much Johnson, not other people and the conditions of the times, created said "cost."
   254. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: June 19, 2009 at 11:19 PM (#3225519)
I guess I just don't understand why you choose to compartmentalize Rickart's abilities and motives into neat little packages. He may have been the most amazing promoter imaginable, and he may have been a flaming racist, and if so, it's likely that one would negate the other in certain circumstances.

I guess my cardinal rule is that the buying public is usually far ahead of where the entertainment establishment is on racial issues and sensibilities.

A contemporary example would be Hollywood casting. I imagine that it is immensely insulting to white Americans that Hollywood assumes that they cannot stomach watching a film unless the lead characters are white--to the point of rewriting "based on true story" scenarios to where the key details of the story are unintelligible so as to ensure a lead white actor (see "21").

But my experience is that this is not the reality. When somehow an exception slips through the net, the film going public tends to turn out in huge numbers (assuming that it's a halfway decent film).
   255. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 20, 2009 at 04:44 AM (#3225764)
I don't know crap about boxing. In fact, I don't really care about boxing.

But I have been deeply, deeply, DEEPLY impressed by Yankee Redneck in this thread. His knowledge of prizefighting history, and his skill in telling the tales and marshalling the facts, has been a joy to read.


As I mentioned previously, boxing history should be enormously interesting to anyone who loves baseball history. If anything, the early prizefighters were even more colorful and vivid personalities than their baseball counterparts, and lord knows that's saying something.

I'm forced to abandon the thread for a while, this is our first Father's Day weekend with the new Yankee Babe, and the Yankee Belle has all sorts of activities planned. To those of you who managed to stick around through the whole thread, I wanted to offer a little something to congratulate you on the trek.

You've heard me mention Joe Gans, the legendary lightweight fighter from the early days of gloved boxing. Gans is to this day still considered one of the greatest lightweights to ever grace the division, and I personally rank Gans somewhere in the Top-5 all-time (along with Roberto Duran, Benny Leonard, and Henry Armstrong). He was a magnificent technical boxer in this era when fighters were still adapting the old bare-knuckle tactics to a sport now fought with 4oz gloves.

In early 1900 a brash young fighter named Terry McGovern burst into public view with a violent knockout of the outstanding featherweight champion George "Little Chocolate" Dixon. McGovern then embarked on a murderous run through the division, running off 14 straight wins, including 10 early knockouts.

His career record brimming at an impressive 54-2-5, McGovern then did the unthinkable - the 116lb champion challenged the 133lb Joe Gans. Gans was not yet champion but he was widely regarded as the best all-around fighter in the division; only 26 years old, his career record already boasted 91 wins against only 6 losses.

And so in December of 1900 the two men met in the ring at the famed Tattersall's horse exchange in Chicago. Interest in the fight was high, for not only were these two of the top-ranked young fighters in the sport, but they were also two of the most exciting to watch. Gans was the consummate technician, able to box from a distance or slug inside and blessed with wondrous defensive skills. McGovern fought is an ultra-aggressive high-energy brawling style that was unlike anything else in the game; when Jack Dempsey had a name for himself some 20 years later with a string of explosive knockouts, he was hailed as "The New McGovern". The fight world watched. Many bets were placed.

This was also to become one of the most controversial fights in boxing's young American history.

My fellow Primates, available here for your weekend scrutiny I present the full version of Gans vs McGovern from 16 December, 1900. Enjoy.

182MB .avi file
   256. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: June 20, 2009 at 06:59 AM (#3225802)
But the world does change. In fact, it's changed for the better, precisely because lots of people broke the rules. It's certainly true that one must deal with the world as it is, but this does not mean that ethical action requires following all of the rules imposed upon one by society,.
There are different ways to "break the rules," though. One can discreetly break them, hoping to quietly set local norms. One can campaign against them. Or one can loudly flout them, and say, "Screw you. Come and get me if you don't like it."
and it's quite clear historically that one very effective way of producing social change is by breaking unjust rules and forcing those in power either to reveal the violence that undergirds those unjust rules, or to surrender and allow the rules to change.
Yeah, the problem with that is that sometimes those in power don't have any qualms about being "forced" to "reveal the violence that undergirds" the rules, and in that case, lots of innocent bystanders may get hurt in the crossfire.

If you live in a generally racist society -- as most people here agree that Johnson did -- revealing the violence may not bother people.
   257. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: June 20, 2009 at 07:39 AM (#3225811)
Matt, I'm sort of surprised that you -- certainly not one of the libertarians here -- are taking the position you're taking. You're essentially arguing that because Johnson had the right to do what he did (*), he therefore had no responsibility to his community not to do it and bears no responsibility as to what happened to said community as a result. Now, that's a respectable libertarian argument, but it's not one I'd have thought you'd be making.


(*) Again, I know nothing of the facts here of what he did; I'm assuming that the facts are being accurately reported by others.

---

Who am I to judge who "deserves" to be punished 100 years after the fact?

...

But these are lawyerly haggles over the nature of justice, and I really didn't offer my historical perspective to debate whether a man may steal bread to feed his starving family. How does one quantify ethical culpability? Why would one even try?
Y_R, I've generally thought many of the criticisms of you here were overheated or plain wrong, but I think you're being disingenuous with these sorts of comments. You've been making these judgments all throughout the thread -- hell, what spawned the thread was precisely you making these judgments -- but when directly confronted on them, you suddenly act as if all you've been doing is making descriptive statements. One can simply argue that Johnson's behavior resulted in problems for black boxers. But that's not what you argued; you argued that therefore Johnson was a bad person. Now, one can make that value judgment, as well. But one can't make that value judgment and then pretend that one isn't making value judgments.

So, bottom line, what you need to address is this: if I do X, which I have every right to do, and Y responds -- predictably -- by unjustly hurting people, who's to blame for those people being hurt? Me, because I could/should have predicted that Y would unjustly hurt those people? Or Y, for actually unjustly hurting those people?
   258. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2009 at 11:24 AM (#3225821)
I've already said several times that the question of Johnson's lifestyle and the blackballing of subsequent black heavyweight contenders isn't quite as cut and dried as YR is making it, and I hope I don't have to repeat that.

But if this thread now dies, I want to echo Esoteric and say just how impressed I've been with YR's short course on boxing history, and the way he's conducted himself in general while answering his many critics. I used to sell lots of boxing books (and some early boxing posters) in my shop and even had a fair number of amateur boxers come in to talk it up with my manager, who was much more of a ring expert than I've ever been. And I completely agree with YR's wonder at why more of us aren't drawn to that sport, along with its cast of characters that's at least a match for baseball's. It's made me wish once again that I could live long enough to witness the invention of a time machine. Unfortunately, I can't even open that Gans-McGovern file on my computer, but then there's always NY Times Select.

And whatever his opinions of Jack Johnson's character, or of Johnson's sole responsibility for Tex Rickard's actions, YR's presence has elevated this thread to a level of intelligence that's extremely rare, not just here but nearly anywhere else on the internet. I's further note that this is the sort of "off-topic" thread that some Primates wanted to shove off the main page, and express my gratitude to Jim & Co. that this misplaced wish was wisely ignored.
   259. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 20, 2009 at 12:16 PM (#3225829)
Matt, I'm sort of surprised that you -- certainly not one of the libertarians here -- are taking the position you're taking. You're essentially arguing that because Johnson had the right to do what he did (*), he therefore had no responsibility to his community not to do it and bears no responsibility as to what happened to said community as a result. Now, that's a respectable libertarian argument...
No it isn't! I made a facile argument to that effect back in the trans thread, and you rightly argued that libertarian ethics are easily separable from libertarian political theory. That one believes in a peculiar and arbitrarily limitied theory of right does not mean that one must believe all actions which fall into the sphere of these rights are laudable or ethical actions, or that an actor does not bear responsibility for the effects of actions that would be legally permitted under one's ideal political arrangements.

What I'm arguing is that what YR claims were the effects of Johnson's actions should (if we grant his history) be understood rather as the effects of the actions of various racists and racist organizations in old-timey American society. YR is blaming Johnson for racism, whereas I blame racism on racists.

EDIT: I'd also question whether the response of white racists in YR's narrative should be properly understood as "predictable". If the boxing scene were the height of profit-driven equality that YR claims, should Johnson have been able to reasonably predict that one prizefighter displaying questionable morals would bring the whole edifice crashing down around him? One can argue that he should have foreseen certain bad effects, but the complete segregation of the heavyweight title picture and the unjust exclusion of Wills et al from the biggest and most profitable fights doesn't seem like an obvious and necessary reaction to Johnson's actions, in the scenario described.
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