Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Real Fear


On January 1, 2007 Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was murdered in his limo during a drive-by shooting.

On November 27, 2007, 24 year-old Washington Redskins free safety Sean Taylor was murdered in his home.

On September 2, 2008, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Richard Collier was shot 14 times while he sat in his car, and was left paralyzed with an amputated left leg. 

On November 28, 2008, New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a nightclub, and was subsequently arrested and charged with criminal possession of a handgun. The charges carry a mandatory minimum of 3 1/2 years in prison.

Public opinion was harsh. The media painted Burress as just another angry, young, (black) NFL player who thought himself above the law and was a danger to society. In the wake of the Michael Vick saga, whatever Burress gets he will deserve. But in light of the tragedies mentioned above, we should suspend our hasty judgment. 

We should pause to see this from Burress' point of view. His fear of getting shot or attacked is patently rational. He did not intentionally discharge the weapon. No one has shown or even alleged any malicious intent on his part in any way. He is a black man, with a gun and an attitude, and that's all we need to know.

There may be nothing that can be done for him. The ridiculously unfair mandatory minimum sentencing laws may doom him in the end. But the next time you see someone on TV talking about how we should throw away the key, if you find yourself agreeing then ask yourself this: if it was Tom Brady, how would you feel?

And the answer to that question may be be an indication that our problem with Plaxico isn't that he was carrying a gun, but that he is a young black male with an attitude. 


  1. ... ya, good point. i sort of agree. i don't have a problem with him carrying the gun. well, maybe a little. but i do have a problem with him carrying a loaded gun. the gun won't fire, unless the bullet is in the chamber ...
    had no idea you had a blog going ...

  2. Well, an unloaded gun isn't going to do him much good. You'd think he'd have the safety on, though, and leaving it in his waistband was dumb.

    But people aren't just calling him dumb; they're insinuating that he's a gangbanger, and that there's no legitimate reason to have one.

  3. i think it needs to be said that i have no poblem with him having a gun-- but he needs to do it legally thru the state in which he is carrying and it is his responsiblity to verify the other states' reciprocity and he also needs to follow the laws-- IE not have a loaded weapon ( the other kind) in a bar/strip club or wherever he was.

    people need to be accountable for their actions-- just b/c they are rich and infamous doesnt give them the right to plea bargain-- mandatory sentence 3 years jail time--- dont drop the soap and ask mike vick how leavenworth is-- these guys have everything and they are stupid enough to throw it away by using no judgment-- i say screw 'em

  4. I'm not arguing that he should be allowed to break the law. I'm arguing two things.

    First, our opinion of what he did is affected by who he is, and by what we think of young, black NFL players. Our response, then, is different from what our response would be if he were a white quarterback.

    I'm also arguing that the mandatory sentence is wrong. I do not believe in mandatory sentencing at all, and especially when the offense in not an active crime of commission.

    I don't think he should be allowed to carry a loaded gun into a club. The potential for danger is far too high. But I also think we should stop and realize that he may have had a more legitimate reason for carrying it than just trying to be a bad-ass. And if the judge cannot take the facts of the case into account when sentencing him, then what's the point of having a judge?