Yesterday I highlighted and sharply criticized a blog post that appeared on the Rays Colored Glasses blog. The post was by a writer named Robbie Knopf, and it was about Rays reliever Josh Lueke, who was charged with rape and subsequently pleaded guilty to a count of “false imprisonment with violence.” The regrettable upshot: if Lueke achieves baseball glory, all will be forgotten and (maybe? It was hard to tell) forgiven.
Since yesterday the post has been taken down and replaced with an apology. I believe it to be a good, heartfelt apology and I think it’s worth reading. Which you can read in its entirety here. In part:
As a young writer, I made a series of mistakes in my recent article about pitcher Josh Lueke. I touched on a very sensitive topic in his arrest for rape, and how it all relates to his future in major league baseball. As a writer, it is my responsibility to clearly present my thoughts and analysis to the reader … In exploring this issue, I did not exhibit nearly enough care, talking far too much about baseball and far too little about consequences. It is entirely my fault that the article took the tone that it did.
It is worth noting that Robbie is 17 years-old. That doesn’t excuse him, as anyone with a platform is responsible for the words he or she writes regardless of how old they are. But it does help to explain how a sensitive and volatile topic like this was mishandled. Even professional writers with decades of experience are prone to mishandling such things. And, as the weekend’s coverage of the Stubenville rape case made clear, so too are entire cable news networks who damn well should know better.
It is also worth noting that, in the past, other professional writers have made errors in judgment just as bad if not worse than what young Mr. Knopf did. I’m immediately reminded of Mark Whicker’s odious column in the OC Register a few years back in which he used the horrifying case of Jaycee Dugard as a vehicle for lame sports riffs, with a closing line — “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard” — which was perhaps the most callous and insensitive thing I’ve ever seen written in a sports column. Note: the column still appears on the OC Register’s website. Whicker apologized for it, but (a) it wasn’t all that great an apology in my view; and (b) there are reasons to believe it wasn’t all that genuine an apology.
I don’t feel that way about Robbie, who seems genuinely shaken by his mistake and who seems genuinely contrite. There’s no question that he’ll learn from it, even if it’s regrettable that he had learn in this particular way. For my part, I hope the entire experience doesn’t sour him on writing, dull his instincts or deter him from taking bold stances when he feels them warranted.