Opinion: Kojo's Response to the Gilbert Arenas Controversy
Thinking out loud, Kojo read his following commentary on today's show about the Gilbert Arenas controversy, athletes, race and guns:
"My initial and ongoing response to this matter: These knuckleheads were acting foolishly with no serious intent. And ultimately no one was hurt. But the law was violated. Had no one reported the matter to some authority, it probably would have ended there.
But it was reported and publicized. A grand jury heard evidence. Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely by the NBA. In the process, he has become the latest poster boy for thuggish behavior by black professional athletes. Even Reverend Al Sharpton has chimed in to call for strong action, assuring the issue will now be seen in racial terms, which maybe it should be.
We live in a gun culture, of which a criminal gun subculture is a byproduct. The reason so many criminals have guns is because in our gun culture, guns are so readily available. Law abiding citizens own guns mainly for two reasons: for sport or for protecting their homes and families against criminals. Criminals and thugs have guns for the purpose of committing crimes.
Professional athletes who carry guns are often rich and black men, often originally from poor communities and crime-ridden neighborhoods. They say they carry guns to protect themselves, because they’re often targets of criminal predators. But we see them as a part of the gun subculture — the criminal gun subculture.
So, on the one hand, the gun culture — publically identified through the National Rifle Association (NRA) — is very powerful in Washington and around the country. It has been able to stymie the District of Columbia’s effort to get a vote in the House of Representatives by having its supporters attach an amendment to the bill, which would force the city to abandon its handgun ban in order to get the vote.
It has already forced the city, by way of a Supreme Court ruling, to weaken its gun control laws. City leaders refuse to abandon those laws, but seem powerless to ward off the encroaching organized gun culture.
Into this picture stumbles the knucklehead Gilbert Arenas, a rich man apparently in violation of the city’s gun control laws, as he brought guns into the city. He’s rich, but he has no heft in the organized gun culture. Don’t look for the NRA to be supporting him. He’s more closely identified with the gun subculture — the thug criminal variety.
Him we can teach a lesson...because if he gets away with this, it sends a message that rich black athletes can get away with thuggish behavior, and that’s one of the biggest problems facing the black community right now, because black kids and others see these guys as role models.
Which brings us the crucial question: do professional black athletes occupy a kind of "no-man’s land" in our popular culture? A space where because of their talent and wealth and visibility, they become magnets for our fights over the variety of race and class issues that often divide us?"