Wednesday, February 08, 2006

King Funeral/NHL Scandal

-A couple of things have me interested today.

First, was it a funeral, a political convention, a bash-Bush rally, a media event, a song and dance recital, or a civil rights rally? Depending on what portion of it you may have seen, you could be convinced that the funeral of Coretta Scott King was any, or all, of the above. It lasted six hours.

The evening news shows last night focused on the opportunities so willingly and shamelessly taken by some of the speakers to rip on the President for his perceived weaknesses on civil rights issues. The least bashful of the bunch was the Reverend Joseph Lowery. The long-time Bush detractor used his time in the spotlight to throw out some pointed criticisms of the Iraq war policy and the fed response to hurricane Katrina. I'm sure Bush knew it was coming. He even hugged Lowery after the "word-stoning" was over. There were others who piled on too.

My problem with these comments isn't that they were made, but the setting in which they were delivered. To his credit, President Clinton got up to remind everyone that there was a real human being's body in the casket in front of them and they were there to honor her. When some of the speakers, particularly Lowery, lowered themselves to political diatribes, they were choosing to take the focus off of Mrs. King's life and legacy, and put it on other things. This dishonors the lady in my book, and does nothing for the speaker's credibility.

Of course, you might say she and her husband were all about political and social change. It was what their lives were all about. And, for the most part, you would be right. But most of their accomplishments were not enjoyed at the expense of honor and dignity. Dr. King's commitment to non-violent civil rights achievements, and his family's iconic position in this country's history, were not glorified by such political pettiness. Martin Luther King seized the opportunity, at just the right moment, to lead a revolution in this country. Unfortunately, there was nothing revolutionary, or tasteful, about the political "messiness" of his wife's funeral. Was it the send off she would have wanted? Doubtful.

-Secondly, I'm somewhat saddened by the news that broke Tuesday implicating Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach, and former NHL player, Rick Tocchet in a gambling ring. We're already hearing that the fingers of this investigation are just beginning to spread out. No less than Wayne Gretzky, through the implication of his wife Janet Jones, is already forced to comment on the situation. There are rumors of mob ties, law enforcement ties, other players and owners being involved.

To state the obvious, this whole thing is shaping up as another huge PR disaster for the NHL, which needs it like another whole in it's already "swiss cheese" head.

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