Mob Rule?

Let me say from the get-go that Donald Sterling, the now banned owner of the Los Angeles professional basketball team, is a jerk. Forget what he said to his girlfriend about not bringing blacks to games. As many have pointed out, he has a long history as a landlord of discriminating against minorities, a fact conveniently overlooked by the National Basketball Association.

You can be a nasty landlord for decades, but the NBA doesn’t care. It’s only when you say something racist in private that the NBA commissioner acts.

The reaction to Sterling’s comments were swift and downright self-righteous. Nothing like condemning a billionaire who’s married but appears in public with his girlfriend, she of black and Mexican ancestry.

One of the reactions that caught my eye was the threat by the players’ union to boycott playoff games. Get this guy now or we’re off the court. No due process. Just do it. This is the same group that would demand due process for any union member accused of something.

It’s also troubling that the indignant reaction to Sterling focused on private speech. Now this is not a First Amendment issue. That involves the government and the NBA is not the government.

But still people were demanding Sterling’s head over something he said in private. The people who wanted something done because of something said have not thought this through. If you can go after Sterling, who’s next?

By the way, did anyone notice that in discussing the ban, the commissioner of the NBA said he hoped that the sponsors who fled the Clippers would return.

Now there’s speech for you.


Christian Muddle

When I was growing up, the advice on meeting girls was thus: If you wanted to meet a girl you’d be glad to take home to your mother, go to church. I recall some rather nice girls who fit that category, but I don’t think they thought the same thing about me. Maybe that’s because they never met me in church.

I’m reminded of the sage advice of my youth every time I see a commercial for Christian Mingle, the dating service. Mind you, I applaud the idea. You want to meet someone compatible, in this case a Christian, go through Christian Mingle.

But the two commercials I’ve seen send the wrong message because they emphasize the wrong attributes. Let me parse them for you.

The first one shows an older couple, probably in their 50s. It is clear from the beginning that the woman is heavily made up. He is a rather handsome fellow. At some point, she mentions that he has a great body, which merely calls attention to her body. And she also reveals that she’s older than he is, which calls attention to her heavy make-up.

That commercial appears to have been taken off the air.

But the other one, while more balanced, still sends an off-putting message. In this one, the couple is younger and seems physically about the same. You feel good about this pairing.

And then the woman says: “He’s my second chance.” The camera pans to a photo of the two on a table behind her and fades to Christian Mingle.

Again, it’s the wrong message. It has nothing to do with finding someone of faith, but finding someone who will be husband No. 2. I’ve dubbed this commercial “Second Chance” and when it comes on and I’m in another room, my wife will yell: “Here’s Second Chance.” Of course, I don’t run into the room to watch. I’ve given it many second chances and it never changes. (The much longer YouTube version makes many good points more in tune with Christian Mingle's purpose.)

I’m hoping now for a new commercial that’s doesn’t convey a mixed message. Perhaps you could call it a second chance for Christian Mingle.


Dear Tamaqua

Dear Tamaqua:

I had six good English teachers in junior and senior high and they obviously prepared me for a life with words and writing. One of those words is “native,” which I see often in news stories and especially in obituaries.

Many times the story says someone is a native of the town they live in when the writer really meant to say that the person is a resident of that town. I recall a time when a newspaper wrote about me and said I was a native of Tamaqua.

But I’m not a native of Tamaqua; I’m a native of Harrisburg. That’s where my nativity took place and that’s how one can figure out what place he’s a native of. Where was he or she born?

Early in my life we moved to Still Creek, which is part of the greater Tamaqua area, but it isn’t the Borough of Tamaqua. When I was in fourth grade, we moved to a rental in the 600 block of Arlington Street and thus began my lifelong love for Tamaqua.

Tamaqua was a great place to grow up. We didn’t have gangs the way the cities did and I don’t even remember many bullies. If we weren’t occupied with organized baseball or other activities, we played soldiers in the woods behind East End Playground. As we got older, we moved from the woods to the stripping holes, but we soon reached the age of cars and girls and we left our youthful games behind us.

I worked at the Evening Courier for two years after graduation in 1961 and then joined the Navy. When I was a freshman at Penn State Hazleton, I lived with my mother in a rental on West Broad Street. Then I went to the main campus and left Tamaqua behind.

But I do know that my decade in Tamaqua shaped me in many positive ways, from Sunday School to the American Hose (There’s a pair for you!) and several school teachers, friends and their parents.

So while I am not technically a native of Tamaqua, I do think of myself that way and I hope my English teachers will forgive me.


R Thomas Berner


False Equivalency

Last year my wife and I decided to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway from south to north, with a stop to see grandchildren in North Carolina. We had driven part of it several times before and so we didn’t have to stop at every lookout to take photographs of the view.

After we entered Virginia, the lookouts became fewer and far between and so we were left to driving and listening to CNN on Sirius radio. Unfortunately, it was the day that a new royal baby was born and CNN was in full-throated coverage. It seemed that nothing important was happening anywhere else in the world and especially in the United States, where CNN is headquartered.

Bored by the continuing coverage of a non-event, eventually we turned the radio off and, bored by the lack of scenery, we got off the highway and headed for the parallel interstate (81) and home.

I was reminded of that boring day while watching yet another day of wall-to-wall coverage of the missing Malaysian airliner and trying to equate the coverage of the birth of a royal baby. It’s a false equivalency, isn’t it, and the good news is that CNN pulled back from the royals in short order.

According to some media analysts, CNN has found that its ratings are solid with the continuing coverage of the missing airliner. I don’t recall the ratings for the coverage of the royal birth, but I hope they were in the tank.

CNN lost its way last year by overdosing on the royal birth but seems to have found its footing with its coverage of the missing airliner. Let us hope that a new attitude has arisen at CNN and the news directors realize that one birth in London is not the equivalent of 239 presumed dead in a missing airliner.