Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest elbowed someone on a basketball court and was ejected, then suspended. Lots of people are disgusted with what they see as a malicious act, but it’s the media that I’m disgusted with. I watch the talking heads tripping all over themselves trying to come up with the most unhinged denunciation of the player; in the next breath they’ll be praising another player’s borderline-physical play, saying that it shows toughness, or whatever. Hypocrites.

Sports are sort of an atavistic ritual; do you see the irony in people sputtering red-faced in outrage about what they consider a “barbaric” act, even as they themselves engage in an act that might be even more retrograde, namely the witch hunt? Someone elbowed someone: burn the witch! It makes me think of parables in our culture like Jesus saying to the mob that’s out for blood: let him among us who is without sin cast the first stone. Or the Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller about an over-the-top witch-hunt (a literal one) in colonial America, but really about McCarthyism.

What is the real cause of these kinds of disproportionately intense, mass-outrage shaming rituals?

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