The Peyton Manning case: Will another idol fall?

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Peyton Manning sure has been getting a lot of “exposure” lately.

First, allegations surfaced about some HGH being sent to his wife back in 2011. Then Manning defied the odds and led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl title. Now some disturbing information about an incident that occurred when he was a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee has come to light — again.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard all the sordid details, so I’ll keep this brief. According to numerous media reports, Manning’s name came up in a recent lawsuit filed against the university claiming that it mishandled sexual assault complaints involving student-athletes. Although the suit brought by five women pertains mainly to incidents that occurred between 2013 and 2015, it also alludes to prior episodes, presumably to show a pattern of behavior or conduct.

As a student athlete at the university in the late 1990s, Manning reportedly exposed his backside to a female trainer who was treating him at the time. That resulted in the trainer filing a sexual assault complaint against him.

The matter was settled fairly quickly — but the trainer sued the quarterback after information about the event appeared in a book called Manning. That suit was also settled.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Now renewed publicity brings new questions. There has been much talk about if or how this will affect Manning’s legacy. Will one of the NFL’s superstars — who also happens to be a stellar salesman,  weather the storm? Will he retain his credibility? Or will another idol fall?

To me there is a far more important question. Why do we put these athletes on pedestals in the first place? Think about it. From the second a little boy or girl shows that they may be athletically gifted, their parents, teachers, coaches, and peers treat them differently.  The older they get, the more special attention they receive. Why?  What is it about someone who can throw a football, kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, shoot a basketball or a hockey puck that makes them so special? Why do we care?

And why are we so surprised when they act out? Or when they think they deserve special treatment? Or when they develop entitlement issues? Or when they think they can get away with anything? Or when they do get away with so much reprehensible behavior on and off the field? Or when they refuse to be held accountable for their actions?

Sure the athletes who reach the top of their respective games put in a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice a lot to get there. Sure they put themselves at risk in order to entertain the masses. Sure they provide a welcome distraction from the daily grind. And for all of that, they should be admired — but not idolized.

As Charles Barkley once said, “I am not a role model.”

Neither is Peyton Manning.

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How cool is this?

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It’s almost enough to restore my faith in humanity. Of course almost is the key word in that sentence.

But all kidding aside, I rarely find articles I enjoy, much less agree with, in The New York Times. So imagine my surprise when my almost-daily search for blog fodder turned up an utterly cool, totally heartwarming story there earlier this month.

Written by Winnie Hu, the February 7 story was about the pet food pantries popping up in New York City and surrounding suburbs. Thanks to them, a lot of people who are often forced to choose between buying food for themselves or their pets are no longer confronted by that agonizing decision. People who were once forced to surrender — or worse yet abandon — their pet because they couldn’t afford to feed it now know there is a place to get canned food or kibble for their dog or cat.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I am sure there are plenty of skeptics — and critics — like the man quoted in Hu’s article. I won’t waste my breath on them. They just don’t get it — and they probably never will … unless they spend some time volunteering at an animal shelter, or at least visiting one. Perhaps if they heard the cries of a dog newly separated from the only owner it has ever known, or seen the look on the owner’s face after he or she has left their dog or cat at a shelter, they would finally understand.

Maybe then they would finally realize what those of us who love our pets have always known; that there is something animals give freely regardless of their caregiver’s race, religion, gender identity, sexual preference or socioeconomic standing. It’s something that people don’t give unconditionally and it’s something all the money in the world can’t buy. It’s something called love … and that’s something to think about.

There ought to be a law…

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Dateline — Greenwich, Conn. As I write this, a winter storm is raging.

The aftermath of a December snow storm in Greenwich, Conn. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
“Just Another Snow Storm.” Greenwich, Conn., December 2010. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Howling wind. Freezing rain. Sleet. Ice. Snow. You name it, we’ve got it. Or we’re going to get it before the day is over.  And then I will spend my birthday cleaning up the mess.

For now I am safe and warm and dry. In fact, I am tucked up on the couch with my favorite fuzzy green blanket and laptop for warmth. The TV is on in the background, providing me with the details from the third Premier League football match of the day. Across the Pond, West Ham is leading Manchester City, 2-1, but I’m hardly invested in the outcome. I’ve got other stuff on my mind.

It suddenly dawned on me while channel surfing between games that there ought to be a law on days like this. Make that several. First of all, there ought to be a law against extensive TV storm coverage. We get it. It’s snowing. It’s windy. It’s cold. Newsflash: it’s winter.

There ought to be a law against any politicians commenting on a storm. What in God’s name do you have to say that we don’t already know? Personally, if I want to know about the weather, I can look out the window. Peering through the glass, I can also tell if the roads have been plowed, or if my neighborhood has been affected by a power outage. Based on personal observation, I can also make an educated guess about storm impacts on local, regional and national transportation. Believe it or not, I can rely on common sense to decide whether or not it’s safe to travel.

Black and white photograph of New York Police Department barriers taken by Alexandra Bogdanovic
NYPD barriers. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

There ought to be a law against snowplows shoving all the ice, sleet, slush and snow into private driveways. I don’t care where you put it. If you can’t think of an alternate location, I’ve got a few suggestions…

There ought to be a law against idiots in sports utility vehicles, or any 4-wheel drive vehicles for that matter. Just because you’ve allegedly got better traction doesn’t mean you can stop on a dime in slippery conditions. In case you haven’t figured it out, the  added height of most SUVs equals a higher center of gravity. Turn that steering wheel abruptly at an unsafe speed and I guarantee you will flip your SUV or end up in a ditch.

There ought to be a law against rude and inconsiderate behavior. Calm down. Relax. It’s just another winter storm. It is not the end of the world. Or is it?

 

Censorship – alive and well

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“Censorship generally is the deletion of speech or any communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a body authorized to censor.”

– As defined on uslegal.com

A disturbing news report surfaced last week.

Apparently some Russian government-types have been burning some “undesirable” books.

Given the heinous and egregious nature of this conduct, I am sure the Russians would have been happy if this remained a closely guarded secret.  Unfortunately (for the alleged offenders) some American media outlets discovered and published accounts of this disgusting behavior.

I found out about it when goodreads.com shared a link to the post on Twitter. Ain’t social media grand?

At any rate, I banged off a snippy response, which was something to the effect of, “And this comes as a surprise?” Not surprisingly, that Tweet didn’t amount to much.

But in all honesty, I wasn’t surprised. Angry? Yes. Disgusted? Of course. Sickened? Absolutely. Flabbergasted, gob-smacked, astonished, taken aback? No. Not at all.

Of course government censorship is alive and well. Let’s face it. In Russia, where Vlad Putin does whatever he wants with impunity, it probably never died.   But what you may not realize – or simply refuse to admit –  is that censorship is practiced with alarming frequency right here in the good old USA.

The restrictions on freedom of expression to which I am referring go far beyond rules and regulations put in place to limit potential exposure to “offensive” material and to hold those who engage in hateful rhetoric accountable for their actions.

I am referring to the vast majority of the censorship that occurs in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, which  is condoned if not officially sanctioned by the politically correct crowd in the government and elsewhere. In an effort to combat the ignorant, misguided and hateful behavior of a vocal minority, the “polite police” are running amok.

Yes, some censorship is blatant. Some is passive-aggressive. Trust me. I speak from personal experience.

Book Cover, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey
Image courtesy of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency

You see, I am the award-winning author of what could be considered a somewhat controversial book. In my memoir, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey, I share how I met, fell in love with and married the man of my dreams. In vivid detail, I recount how I learned that he self-identified as and planned on having surgery to “become” a woman. I also share what happened after I learned the truth.

Some readers have loved my work. Some have hated it. Most have expressed their opinions in no uncertain terms — which is fine. I have very broad shoulders. There was only one occasion when I was truly insulted, and that was when a local library official told me they’d probably never shelf my book because readers here are “very conservative.”

I wonder what they’ll do if Caitlyn Jenner writes a book.

Consider the source

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Recently, I announced my plans to lead by example. Specifically, I said that I planned on doing three blog posts per week. And so far I’ve managed to do just that.

Yes, yes. I know. It’s only been a week. But you’ve got to give me props. At least I’m off to a good start. And no, I don’t plan on changing that anytime soon.

Of course that’s not to say that it isn’t an ambitious plan. And like any such idea, it’s got its drawbacks. For one thing, you may be thinking penning three posts per week is fairly time-consuming. For another, you may be wondering how and where on earth I will come up with enough ideas for that many posts.

First thing’s first. Those of you familiar with the art and science of blogging already know that posts can be scheduled in advance. So doing the writing is simply a matter of setting a few hours aside during the week. For example, this particular post won’t appear until Monday afternoon. But I’m actually writing it on Sunday.

Coming up with original ideas for the posts is seemingly a far more daunting challenge. But there’s a trick to that, too. Instead of spending hours scouring the Internet for ideas, I’ve set up alerts so I receive e-mail notifications about matters of interest. With them in hand, I can easily find fodder for thrice-weekly blogs.

“…it’s a bit ironic for someone with my background.”

Needless to say, international, national, regional and local news stories will likely provide most of the inspiration for these posts. And if you think about it, that’s a bit ironic for someone with my background. Once upon a time, the articles with my byline at the top could have been the basis for another blogger’s posts. Now I’m turning to my successors for help.

Ironic, yes. But hardly surprising. For years, TV and radio news anchors, sports talk radio hosts and their counterparts in politics looked to newspapers for  information to serve as the basis for their own programs. They called it “show-prep.”

Today, they turn to the Internet, where information is much more readily available, but by no means any more accurate. There on any given day, at any given time, they can still find a few decent news stories, many of which are written by reporters who work long hours for what amounts to less than minimum wage under the constant threat that their livelihood will disappear entirely.

It’s a possibility I lived with throughout my 21-year newspaper career. But the truth is, the print media hasn’t died. It has just adapted.