Point of View Columns

Will Smith v. Chris Rock – The Last Words

We live in a time when we actually see the leadership and rank and file of a major American political party openly espousing the demolition of the democratic processes that are the foundation of this already far from perfect country.

We live in a time when seemingly one man, in this case a man named Vladimir Putin, could come damn close to precipitating the carnage of war and destruction beyond anything seen since World War II, with the added possibility that nuclear weapons might be part of a holocaust which will have few, if any, human survivors.

And we live in a world where billionaires will spend $55 million to joy ride around in a space station while humans are literally starving to death on this planet.

Sadly, this list could go on. Therefore, this is as good a time as any to write The Last Words regarding The Slap Heard Around the World – a.k.a. the Will Smith v. Chris Rock contretemps.

Staying in the world of reality here are some real facts:

  1. Will Smith never should have slapped, punched, kicked or otherwise assaulted Chris Rock.
  2. Will Smith is fortunate that (a) Chris Rock is not The Rock and (b) Chris Rock did not suffer some serious injury resulting in Smith’s arrest and conviction along with being the losing defendant in a massive lawsuit.
  3. There is no way that Will Smith should be seen as “defending his woman’s honor”. There are enough corpses resulting from that kind of behavior.
  4. Will Smith absolutely ruined what should have been a glorious night for Venus and Serena Williams and for the entire Williams family and Questlove. They will never get that moment back – and that’s a fact.
  5. There are thousands of people who were present for what was supposed to be a memorable event, and then Will Smith turned himself into some kind of pathetic circus act.
  6. Will Smith’s apology does not remove the stench of the memory of his behavior.

Here are some other facts:

  1. Will Smith did not bring shame upon Black America.
  2. Will Smith did not become a bad role model for young Black men. Anyone who emulates his behavior has only themselves to blame. We all make choices.
  3. Chris Rock did not exceed the bounds of comedy. The point of comedy is that it really doesn’t have any bounds – if you don’t like it don’t laugh. If you really don’t like it walk out.
  4. Chris Rock will be an even richer man than he already is due to the increased attention (and attendance) for his current comedy concert tour which (quite coincidentally) began just a few days after The Slap.
  5. Will Smith shall return to some form of stardom – perhaps diminished for a while, but he shall return.

There are so many historic and existential crises and dangers that jeopardize our lives and this planet that deserve our full and complete attention.

As for this writer – these are the Last Words on The Slap.

Point of View Columns

A Look Back at the End of March 2022

It is said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

That is certainly not the case with March 2022. It began with the most serious military combat in Europe since World War II and it is ending with more warfare and more madness and perhaps, just perhaps a few signs of hope.

And here are some (not so) random observations….

Trump the Traitor

Just thinking about Trump being president during this current crisis is the stuff of nightmares.

Today there is no need to wonder. Because today we were able to watch a video with Trump asking Vladimir Putin to find any “dirt” on President Biden.

It is important to keep in mind that this is in the middle of the most intense military encounter between the United States and a foreign since World War II. One commentator compared this to a Republican presidential candidate calling on Hitler or Mussolini or Tojo to help attack Franklin Roosevelt politically.

That may be over the top…but just a little.

Clearly there are no boundaries of propriety or patriotism or sanity when it comes to one Donald J. Trump.

And is just as clear that by engaging in this kind of bizarre activity he gives Putin all the encouragement that he needs – Putin knows that if Trump becomes president again he will have an ally in disemboweling NATO and turning the United States into his autocratic wingman.

And if that seems too extreme, then you just haven’t been paying attention.

Is a New Senate on the Way?

Every two years roughly one third of the U.S. Senate seats are up for election- this year the number is 35. Of those seats, there are at least ten that are believed to be a matter of serious contest between Republicans and Democrats, and of those ten seats, five of them feature Black candidates.

For the first time since the days of Reconstruction over 150 years ago, there are five Black men and women who have a very real chance of being elected. Since Tim Scott (South Carolina) and Cory Booker (New Jersey) are not up for reelection, there could be seven (7) Black members of the U.S. Senate by this time next year.

Aside from the literal complexion of the Senate changing, the prospect of so many Black senators serving creates the promise of some new perspectives, new vision and the possibility of the possibility of institutional change.

We will just have to wait and see.

The Clarence and Ginni Show

It turns out that we have been the unwitting audience for the “The Clarence and Ginni Show” starring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, neo-conservative activist Virginia (Ginni) Thomas for many years.

Justice Thomas is well-known for his right wing of the right-wing approach to justice. He can always be counted on to abolish – voting rights, abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act, same sex marriage – his grievance list is infinite.

Ginni Thomas is Clarence Thomas’ right wing of the right-wing soulmate, with a healthy helping of autocratic tendencies that use the Constitution as a cudgel, not a tool of justice.

And now we learn that during the January 6th insurrection and thereafter, Ginni Thomas was a leading voice of the “Stop the Steal” movement which was meant to overthrow existing constitutional norms and invalidate the votes of over 70 million Americans.

And when a case involving a congressional investigation of the insurrection came before the Supreme Court, 8 justices voted to let the investigation go forward. One justice, Clarence Thomas, voted against the investigation. Clearly, he was concerned about the revelations of his wife’s attempts to invalidate democracy in the United States, perhaps forever.

And even though the conflict of interest is as clear a full moon on a cloudless night, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself.

Justice Thomas is a living breathing example of conflict of interest and injustice.

Smith v. Rock

Everything that can be said about the Will Smith/Chris Rock contretemps at the Academy Awards ceremony. It is more than sad that what appeared to be an utter lack of self-control resulted in Will Smith diminishing his stature and reputation, perhaps for all time.

It is also sad that some would praise his actions as “a man standing up for his woman” as if we still live in some prehistoric time where slights and insults needed to be settled with a club or a sword.

Chris Rock has been a comedian who has always had an edge to his humor. If he can be given the benefit of the doubt that he did know about Jada Pinkett’s malady (a fair assumption), it is still a matter of walking on a virtual tightrope to make fun of the physical appearance of anyone in the audience – it can be taken as a good-natured joke or…not.

In any event, Chris Rock will make even more money on his current concert tour. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett will continue to live the life of celebrity and luxury and ease.

And in no event should the Academy Award incident be seen as somehow smearing or shaming the national Black community.

The bad behavior of a couple of privileged and entitled men have nothing to do with any assessment of the Black community.

It was a train wreck of a night.

Now it is time to move on.