If you had three daughters

Today’s post was contributed by Rob Teilhet, an Atlanta attorney and former state legislator.

Rob TeilhetIn the span of about 72 hours since Donald Sterling was revealed as a racist on audiotape, the NBA moved decisively by banning him for life and setting in motion a process that will force him to sell his team. There is no place in the NBA for a racist. It has been awesome to see an organization not only get it, but act on it without hesitation.

There is another issue that I wish we would move on with the same urgency: violence against women.

Just as I heard Donald Sterling on tape describing his abhorrent views regarding race, I also saw on videotape Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend’s limp body through a casino lobby. Her body was limp because he had beaten her unconscious in front of several witnesses minute before. He is still in the NFL and is still a Raven.

The Tallahassee Police Department declined to investigate an alleged sexual assault of a female student by a football player at the local university, an activity that had been videotaped. Had the tape been obtained and witnesses interviewed at the time of the report, we would probably know whether the assault that was alleged took place. Now, we’ll never know. Everyone involved with the exception of the alleged victim continues in the same capacity they were in before, and no one has been sanctioned or faced discipline in any way for any of it.

In Ann Arbor, the placekicker and star left tackle were alleged to have been involved in a sexual assault and subsequent harassment of the victim. For four years no action was taken. The placekicker was eventually expelled from school–after his eligibility had expired. In the FSU and Michigan cases, the federal government will require some answers for why these public universities chose to do so little. The investigations into the institution’s inaction will last months, probably even years. Would we have accepted that timeline for Mr. Sterling?

And just this morning, I read that we still do not know the answer to what seems to be a relatively simple question: Did Vanderbilt’s then-football coach contact a woman in the days after she made a sexual assault report against four of the team’s players and if he did, what was the nature and purpose of that contact? That is an easy question to find out the answer to, yet it has not been done. It hasn’t been done either because no one in authority cares whether it happened or they don’t want to know the answer. Both are unacceptable.

The saddest part is that I could keep going all morning. When women are the victims, there is so very little action, and it is so very, very late. And people seem to be largely o.k. with that.

Maybe if you had three daughters, you’d feel differently.

Billy Collins pays tribute to his favorite 17 year old high school girl

Poem in Your Pocket

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. I heard Billy Collins, who has twice been chosen as the United States Poet Laureate, read this on a National Public Radio program and it stuck with me.

To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl 

Billy Collins

Do you realize that if you had started

building the Parthenon on the day you were born

you would be all done in only two more years?

Of course, you would have needed lots of help,

so never mind, you’re fine just as you are.

You are loved for simply being yourself.

But did you know at your age Judy Garland

was pulling down $150,000 a picture,

Joan of Arc was leading the French army to victory,

and Blaise Pascal had cleaned up his room?

No, wait, I mean he had invented the calculator.

Of course, there will be time for all that later in your life

after you come out of your room

and begin to blossom, at least pick up all your socks.

For some reason, I keep remembering that Lady Jane Grey

was Queen of England when she was only fifteen

but then she was beheaded, so never mind her as a role model.

A few centuries later, when he was your age,

Franz Schubert was doing the dishes for his family,

but that did not keep him from composing two symphonies,

four operas, and two complete Masses, as a youngster.

But of course that was in Austria at the height

of romantic lyricism, not here in the suburbs of Cleveland.

Frankly, who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15

or if Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17?

We think you are special by just being you,

playing with your food and staring into space.

By the way, I lied about Schubert doing the dishes,

but that doesn’t mean he never helped out around the house.