For years, as a lifelong diehard Chicago Cubs fan, people have asked me about George Will who himself is such a public and outspoken fan of the team. And they've asked if I've read his writing about baseball, notably his book, Men at Work.
I always say that the one and only embarrassment I have for being a Cubs fan is that George Will is one, as well. I have a hard time listening to him talk about the team, and, no, I haven't read his book on baseball.
As for the latter, that's because I've heard him talk about it, and his thesis, and it struck me as so pure George Will that it held no interest for me. His description made it seem "the pedantic and pretentious conservative white man's guide to baseball." Maybe there are some good thoughts in it -- and maybe there'd be enough in it that would make me pound my head against a brick wall. Perhaps a protective batting helmet should be included. Someone did once give me a copy a decade or so ago, but I haven't cracked open the spine yet. I've kept it, but only because I might come across someone who might like a brand news copy. At some point, I'll probably give up and give the thing away to a library.
The closest I've come to reading George Will on baseball is that he just wrote a book in conjunction with the Cubs about the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field. Since it's basically just stories about the history of the ballpark, it might be safe to read. Thus far, though, I haven't gotten a copy, which -- considering what you likely know about my love of the team -- speaks volumes. Just not this volume.
I've heard George Will talk about baseball to a small degree -- I usually change the channel -- and he's such a pompous blowhard that it's difficult to take, even the occasional smart point. Because that only serves to make him think he's right about everything and knows more than lifelong experts.
So, it came as no shock when I saw that George Will was mired in a controversy about a column he had written about rape. In all honesty, I didn't read any farther. Why? The concept of George Will writing a column about rape has pompous, pedantic, pretentious conservative white man spread all over it. To be fair, I didn't feel it proper to criticize him about it, since I hadn't read the thing. But why put myself in a position where I'd likely be banging my head against a brick wall and not even have a baseball helmet to protect me.
In full disclosure and total transparency, I still haven't found a place in my soul to read his column, though I did come across an article criticizing the Washington Post, and that included several of his extended passages. It remains not fair to analyze the article, but it's certainly difficult not to react to detailed writing that describes rape victims as having a "coveted status" and putting the phrase "sexual assault" in quotes to suggest that it probably really isn't, and then repeating the "sexual assault" in-quote phrase to emphasize your point, all the while describing a "supposed campus epidemic of rape" to downplay and dismiss what is a horrifying problem whenever it does occur.
As I said, I won't discuss his full article. His "thesis" is between Mr. Will and his personal God. But the choice of words matter, and we all use them to get a reaction. And Mr. Will has chosen words to write those extended passages that would make it difficult for a woman to take the numbing step to report her very real rape attack to officials. And in using words that can only be taken to "dismiss" a "supposed sexual assault," it ties into the far right War on Women -- much as they want to deny it exists. This is Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a "slut." This is Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) talking about "legitimate rape." This is Richard Mourdock (R-IN) talking about rape being part of God's plan. This is "fill-in-the-blank with a far right name of your choice" suggesting that women who get "sexually attacked" deserve it. One didn't need to listen to Todd Akin's entire speech to get his point. His attention-getting passage was plenty.
Perhaps George Will has other "points" to make. Perhaps George Will has a different concept of "coveted status" than much of the sane and compassionate world does. Given, though, that as a member of the far right elite, I suspect that the "coveted status" of being raped would not qualify for admission into the gentleman's club of leisure that they so prize. Which isn't to say that such gentleman don't have a first-hand knowledge of "sexual assault," just from another angle. Maybe they don't -- I just don't want to leave them out of consideration simply because of a supposed innocence.
I can't be outraged by George Will's column, because I haven't read the whole thing. Also, I passed "outrage" with the radical right attacking women long ago. I passed it long before even getting to the "sickened" off-ramp at the corner of Shame and Sorrow. "Outrage" doesn't even show up on any map of the conservative mindset any more.
I do know that just because you wear a bow tie and glasses doesn't make you smart, much as I suspect that George Will dresses as he does in order to make people think that. A good, solid, supposed professorial man grounded in the past and tradition, and all things that are Good and Noble. A man of "coveted status." In the end, what he's actually done is create a perfect description of George Will -- a picture of surface and appearance without depth or substance underneath. Don't look at what's behind the surface, kids.
Ultimately, George Will can "think" whatever he wants, so be it. He is entitled to all his own "opinions." He can revel in his "coveted status" of the closed-off, far right cloister he squats in by "supposing" wherever his "mind" takes him.
I just wish he liked the New York Mets. I suspect that deep in his "heart" he does.
To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.