Athletes are people who've spent a large portion of their lives perfecting a very specific way of hitting/throwing/catching a ball of some shape/weight/bouncability. They've gotten to the professional level because their lives have been one constant obsession to do this activity, honing their ability in after-school traveling leagues, skipping class for the gym, and memorizing playbooks while fellow students study abroad. The life track that spits out a professional athlete is essentially a sweatier version of home-schooling. As such, these are not very well-rounded individuals.
So it's not shocking that religion takes on a large role in the sports world. Teams have their own ministers, games begin and end with a group prayer, and if “God” isn't the first thing mentioned in a post-game celebratory speech, it's in the top three. (There's not enough room here to unpack the logic of that—if a player thanks God, they believe God's specifically chosen them over their opponent, which begs the questions of A. if that's the best way He should be spending His time; and B. what's His problem with Seattle.)
As such, the news that boxer Manny Pacquiao—a person who literally makes his money getting punched in the head all the time—thinks gay marriage will “bring back the days of Sodom and Gomorrah” isn't at all surprising. If anything, the pro-same-sex-marriage opinion from Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the outlier here. (One whose potency is dulled a bit once you realize Mayweather is basically Pacquiao's rival, and he'd have probably taken the opposing view, no matter what, just to stir some shit.) The anti-gay/pro-religious sentiment is the norm in sports. There's a reason there hasn't been a single male athlete come out while still playing.
Which is all a long way of saying, man: Charles Barkley saying he's not a role model wasn't just a clever act of purposeful contrarianism by the Nike ad wizards. It was pointing out that if you're a progressive thinker, and had a barroom opinion-laden conversation with your favorite player, you'd punch them in the face. And then run away as fast as possible. Because they'd kick your ass.
Onto the round-up!
- That insanely long hunger strike in Israeli prisons where more than 1,500 Palestinian inmates protesting against poor living conditions finally ended.
- That said, last week wasn't all good for Israeli-Palestinian relations—as few weeks are—as folks reminisced on annual Nakba Day, a protestorial celebration of the day Israel and Palestine got into that West Bank skirmish back in '48, by throwing rocks and busting out the tear gas.
- Mississippi Republican state rep Andy Gipson, who also moonlights as a Southern Baptist Minister, took to his Facebook wall to comment on Obama's same-sex marriage shenanigans by telling his followers to re-read Leviticus 20:13. That's the one that says gays should be put to death.
- Iran executed, through an old-fashioned hanging, 24-year-old Majid Jamali Fashi, an “Israeli spy” convicted of killing an Iranian nuclear scientist two years ago.
- A trio of roadside bombs in Baghdad exploded outside a pet market, killing five.
- In Yemen, a 27-year-old female cancer patient died after she checked into an “alternative health clinic.” You see, cancer gets better if you use things like “scientifically-proven medicinal techniques” and not “rubbing prayer books on 'em.”
- It's pretty likely the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia kept a list of their pedophiliac priests, and just locked that list away in a vault instead of doing anything about it.
- The pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church sued a local woman for $500,000 after she posted a negative Google review that called the church “a cult.”
- Indonesia has cancelled the permit for a sold-out Lady Gaga show, leaving 52,000 “Little Monsters” without anything to do, after religious extremists somehow proved “she is the envoy of the devil's child and she will spread Satanic teaching.”
- Another religious-based concert cancellation, this one way more tragic: The Swedish black metal band Marduk. The reason authorities in Minsk gave was that “the band preaches Satanism, which has nothing to do with art.” Tell that to every kid in art school, ever.
- The Washington, D.C. headquarters of Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay-rights organization, was evacuated last week for a bit after someone phoned in a bomb threat. Not that big a deal, but get ready to start hearing about a whole hell of a lot more of these. In fact, let's keep a running tally, starting now: One.
- In Kenya, a man suspected his wife of cheating, so he enlisted the help of his local black magic shaman person, who put some kind of hex on the wife's vagina, making it a magical vice grip that would capture her lover's penis. The whole thing was resolved when the vice-gripped man got some money (which had to be an awkward bank withdrawal, logistically-speaking) and “a local pastor was called in to pray and the two were finally separated.”
- That's one “fun” side of black witchcraft. A “no-so-fun” angle? It's an excuse to brutally kill women, as evidenced by these four murder/executions in Jharkhand, India over the past month.
- “Enough of this nonsense about gay marriage, priests diddling children, and the ubiquitous War on Christmas,” said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, probably. “That's back-burner stuff. What we really have to worry about is a much seedier and manipulative group in our midst: those godforsaken Girl Scouts.”
- A former Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy at gunpoint was convicted of hiring a hitman to try to kill said teenage accuser.
- And finally, our Person of the Week: Neil Steinberg, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Last week his editor told him to profile a stay-at-home mom for a Mother's Day fluff piece. He took to Facebook and eventually settled on a mother of four from Skokie, Illinois. But, as luck would have it, instead of a classic husband-and-wife relationship, she was in an honest-to-goodness, and highly-topical, same-sex civil union. For the original profile, Steinberg didn't once go into the politics around this currently heated topic, which not only shows a bunch of restraint, but also treats them as, you know, actual people and not just pawns in this religious-based warfare. He saved that stuff for his next column, which includes the phrase, “You want tradition? Buy a butter churn.” Both are required reading.
Previously - One or the Other