January 20, 2008


There are stories which are actually non-stories but become stories because someone continues to push the issue to further their own agenda. This has always been a problem for journalists as they try desperately to avoid getting sucked into the mess, but in the end, they have no choice because it sells more papers.

For example, the editor of Golfweek magazine made a very poor choice by putting a picture of a noose on the cover of the recent issue in regards to a non-story about a Golf Channel announcer poor choice of words.

In golf, we teach players to try and avoid compounding one mistake with another. This applies to poor shot selection as well as the physics of the golf swing itself, yet it seems that the golf media needs to learn this lesson as well.

In a nutshell, a few weeks ago, Kelly Tilghman was suspended from the Golf Channel for two weeks because of comments she made during the second round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, when she and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing young challengers to Woods.

Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up (on him) for a while."

"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman said with a chuckle.

The outcry from people like Reverend Al Sharpton over the word "lynch" was immediate, calling for her immediate termination and threatening to picket the Golf Channel if they didn’t sack her. Unfortunately, Sharpton also displayed a rather poor choice of words by trying to compare the situation to "calling for a woman to be raped or for a Jewish-American to be sent to a gas chamber."

"Lynching is not murder in general. It is not assault in general. It is a specific racial term that this woman should be held accountable for," the reverend said. "What she said is racist. Whether she's a racist -- whether she runs around at night making racist statements -- is immaterial."

Wrong, Al…the dictionary defines "lynch" as "To execute without due process of law, especially to hang, as by a mob."

While US history recorded some 5,000 lynching’s, most taking place in the Deep South and mostly against black people, it happened against white people as well. Granted, most were accused of being bank robbers or murderers, but the fact remains that it was a despicable form of frontier justice at one time and cannot be solely claimed by one ethnic group over another.

Tilghman said she apologized directly to the world's No. 1 player, and Woods' agent issued a statement that said it was a non-issue. Tiger Woods says he knows Kelly Tilghman meant nothing malicious by her remark last week.

The whole thing should’ve ended there, and it would have, until Golfweek re-ignited the flames.

My problem with the entire episode is not whether it was in poor taste, which of course it was, but rather the way it demonstrated an almost automatic knee-jerk reaction and thin-skinnedness.

As an American-Jew, I could take great offense at Sharpton’s attempt to involve us in his problem, but instead I choose to ignore it because I know he’s a schmuck trying to make headlines.

However, I am concerned about the willingness of people to take offense at almost everything lately. Have we as a species become so thin-skinned that we cannot accept criticism or tolerate a mistake by others?

During the last 16 years of managing clubs in Vietnam, I have been accused of being anti-Korean, anti-Vietnamese or anti-Japanese at one time or another because I would not grant someone a "special favour".

The truth is that I am not anti-anyone and have many good friends amongst those particular groups. Once people get to know me they understand that, if anything, I could be considered anti-discriminatory because I firmly believe that all people are equal and must be afforded the same rights and treatment as everyone else.

If I make a special exception in policy or price for one person or group, I have to do it equally for everyone else. That’s only fair.

So when I see people trying to push their own agenda at the expense of others, I get a bit irritated.

Golfers in Vietnam should understand that we are all members of an exclusive club and throw race, colour and religion out the window.

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