Juliet Macur’s latest column in the New York Times is quite the thing. It’s her reaction to the decision in the Barry Bonds appeal. And it’s not exactly nuanced.
Actually, it’s fifteen paragraphs of sour grapes. Straight-forward unhappiness that Bonds had his conviction overturned without any attempt to wrestle with the actual legal context in which it occurred. It’s a bitter and angry recital of some of the worst elements of Bonds’ general milieu — shrunken testicles, the cream and the clear and ex-girlfriends — that has had nothing to do with the case as it has existed in the past four years. All delivered with a grating sarcasm barely concealing her anger.
And make no mistake, she seems angry about those bad Barry Bonds things having nothing to do with the case. Angry that an appeals court has dealt with a matter of law that was before it and not with the parts of the case that were over and done with in 2011 after the jury rendered its verdict. It’s the column equivalent of someone standing and screaming “BUT HE’S A BAD PERSON! DOESN’T EVERYONE SEE THAT?!”
Well, yes, everyone does see that. Even people like me, who spend all damn day defending PED guys sees that. Barry Bonds does have a pretty clear history of being a jerk, at least back when he played. He’s been called a bad guy by many who were in the position to make that judgment. He certainly used PEDs and I strongly suspect that he lied about it under oath. The government couldn’t prove that because they literally had no witnesess who would or could say he did, but that only means that he was acquitted. Not that he didn’t lie.
But he was acquitted. And the one charge of which he was convicted was legally unsound and not supported by evidence. And the appeals court properly overturned it, not because Barry Bonds isn’t a jerk, but because Barry Bonds is a citizen who is due the same legal process you, me and everyone else is. Unless Macur is advocating for the notion that everyone she considers to be a jerk or a liar be convicted of crimes regardless of the evidence, her column makes no sense and has no purpose. Indeed, it’s no different than some San Francisco Giants fan arguing that Bonds shouldn’t have been convicted because Giants fans like him.
Of course, there is a difference between Macur and a Giants fan. Fans can be excused if, at times anyway, they forget that rooting interests aren’t the same as reasonable assessments of any set of facts at hand. That’s just what rooting passion does to people. Top columnists for the most important newspaper in the country should not be so excused, however. And the fact that Macur’s column even saw the light of day makes one wonder if anyone over there is minding the store.