Maturity Leave

Danehy has to settle the score.

It is one of the blessings and curses of maturity (if not always of adulthood) that one reaches a point where he can see both sides of an issue. Remember the blissful certitude of youth, that which brought forth the saying that the only people who know everything are God and an eighth-grader? Well, all that slips away with the onset of maturity, when you not only get to a place where you can see merit in the opposing viewpoints, but you actually need to hear both sides before making up your mind. And even then, that decision is almost never an absolute.

Several news items in the past few days have caused me to ponder the relative merits of the various angles of each issue. Among them:

· The guy in charge of the music at the minor-league baseball games in Nashville was fired after he played David Bowie's "China Girl" and then Carl Douglas' "Kung-Fu Fighting" every time a Korean player on the visiting Iowa team came to bat.

At first this seems pretty cut and dried. He shouldn't have done that. But then, I started thinking, what if I came to bat and they played some drunken Irish song or the theme from The Godfather? Well, actually, neither of those would bother me in the least because I don't drink, I've never imported olive oil, plus I ain't never kilt nobody.

However, just because I'm unoffendable doesn't mean that everybody is. I generally despise political correctness, but describing and/or defining someone by his race, religion or ethnicity is one area where you have to be at least a little bit careful.

Have you ever been in a situation where somebody tries to define an ethnic person without mentioning his ethnicity? Like somebody goes into a store where they had earlier been served by an African-American gentleman and they would like his help again. They ask the young woman at the counter, "Well yes, he was tall and slender, and he had on a blue shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, and khaki pants ... he was wearing a class ring on his left hand and I think he has brown eyes."

The young woman asks, nonchalantly, "Is he black?"

"Well, um, he might be. We really hadn't noticed."

After she pages him, the guy comes out and he looks like Dikembe Mutumbo.

Get yer faux-liberal guilt outta here!

As for the music player, maybe he should have been given the chance to apologize instead of getting fired. Heck, he might have been in shock. Being from Nashville, it might have been the first Asian he'd ever seen. I mean, you show up for a baseball game between Iowa and Nashville and you see an Asian guy. Heck, half the people in those places probably think Bruce Lee is still alive. And the other half thinks he changed his name to Jackie Chan just so he could do more light-hearted movies.

Oh, yeah, the Nashville team is called the Sounds.

MATURE-O-METER SCORE: 22 percent that this involved much ado about almost nothing; 78 percent that he should have been fired. (NOTE: He would have received a 54-percent vote in favor of getting fired just for playing "China Girl," no matter who was up to bat. That song sucks.)

· At the funeral of Northwestern University football player Rashidi Walker, whose death a week earlier had been caused by an asthma attack triggered by a strenuous voluntary workout and/or by his use of illegal dietary supplements, Walker's mother showed up with Johnny Cochran.

This is a tragedy. By all accounts, this was a young man with a great life ahead of him. Good kid, good student, good ballplayer. His asthma was no secret; he had had several bad episodes. He collapsed during a workout at which there were no coaches or trainers present, which is not sinister since most athletic workouts are unofficial and unsupervised. As his teammates gathered around him, he uttered, "I'm dying."

A couple days later, the mom started making noises about how Northwestern (the brainiac school that is actually favored to win the Big 10 football title this year) had pushed her son too hard. Then, Northwestern, which is no angel in this mess, leaked word to the media that he may have been taking banned dietary supplements to gain strength and stamina.

It was quite a dilemma, sad and painful, until Cochran showed up. Now it's as clear as day. I don't care if Johnny Cochran were defending Mother Teresa against the Prince of Darkness. I'd have to go with the Prince on that one. Cochran could stand up and read the Bill of Rights and I'd boo his sorry ass.

A friend of mine said that if I were going to sue somebody, I'd want Johnny Cochran on my side. That's not true. What good would it do to win a multi-million dollar settlement and lose my soul in the process? My friend then hinted at a touch of racism at work. I'm sorry, but assholes, like good neighbors, come in all colors. Johnny Cochran just happens to be the black people's standard bearer in the former category.

MATURE-O-METER SCORE: 24 percent for poor Rashidi Walker (that illegal substance stuff hurts his cause). 76 percent for let's hope they get a jury (preferably an all-black one) that doesn't fall for bad poetry.

· Two members of the rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A. are arrested after shooting a man in an airport terminal for talking too loudly on his cell phone.

Whew! Who do you side with on this one? Loud talking in public isn't a crime yet, but in Perfect World, it would join throwing cigarette butts out of cars at the top of the list.

MATURE-O-METER: Too close to call. If we could just get every person who has an illegal handgun to shoot one loud-talking cell phone user each and then go to jail for his act, this place could be a freakin' paradise.