In a 1991 Senate confirmation hearing Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas said:
“This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It’s a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.”
Thomas was alluding to the allegations that he had sexually harassed Anita Hill, an attorney who had worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. We can debate the merits of his claim all day. No matter what side you were on during that time or now, it is clear that this controversy did two things: heightened public awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, and sparked a media frenzy on sex scandals that has gotten worse overtime. However, that is not what this post is about. What I want to address for the first and last time is the 2009 “high-tech lynching” of Eldrick Tont Woods, better known as Tiger.
By now I have heard everything. Some people say he got what he deserved for cheating, while others say that people need to leave him alone. Both sides have valid arguments. However, from my vantage point I see a man who has strategically been taking out by a gang of opportunistic women and overzealous journalists. It is true that Tiger Woods is a public figure, and a heavily endorsed one at that. Thus, he is unfortunately commodified. Tiger Woods is not a person he is a product. Nonetheless, he received endorsements for his athletic ability, not his moral compass. To hold him to higher standards than we hold the rest of the populace is unfair. People didn’t buy Nike golf products because of his strong faith in God, they bought it because Tiger is the best golfer. Who wouldn’t want to wear the same gear as the world’s top golfer?
As Charles Barkley said in a 1993 Nike commercial , “I am not a role model”. As long as we continue to put our favorite athletes and entertainers on mountain high pedastols they will continue to disappoint us. Newflash: They are real people! Lebron may have a better jump shot than 99.9% of the world and Usain Bolt may be the fastest man in the world, but that doesn’t mean that they transcend humanity. Their superior athletic ability doesn’t mean that they can’t fall victim to drugs, alcohol, and other vices. Has he let down his wife and family? Yes. Has he let me down? No. I respect Tiger for his golfing ability not his fidelity or lack thereof. If he did something to enhance his playing ability and get an unfair advantage over his opponents (like A-Rod and Mark McGwire) then I would feel disappointed. But what he does behind closed doors is his business. Ultimately he has to look at himself in the mirror, not me.
There are many babblers out there who claim that Tiger should be held accountable just like politicians. This is a ridiculous claim. Tiger never campaigned to restore morality in our society. We should shake our heads at Governor of South Carolina Mark Sanford who voted to impeach Bill Clinton for his extramarital affairs even though he had one of his own. We should feel let down by former Congressman Mark Foley who was a staunch opponent of child pornography but was a pedophile himself. These people publically spoke out against things that they engaged in. Tiger did not. All he wanted to do was play golf, and he did a damn good job at it.
It is sad that this man’s life and career are being judged by what he did with his phallus, not his 9 iron. Truthfully, I don’t care how many women he’s allegedly slept with or not. Tiger is one of the greatest golfers of all-time. Alas, he is victim of a “high-tech lynching” that has choked the life out of his career.