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Did weekend errors serve the cause of justice?


“The Mets’ Anti-Gay Daniel Murphy Lost His Team the World Series. Good.”

That’s the headline on Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern’s hate-filled article today. From his lead paragraph: “I’m thrilled that Mets (former) fan favorite and fomenter of homophobia played a crucial role in bringing his team to an embarrassing defeat.” Later, Stern added, “Murphy’s horrifying performance, his downfall on the field, likely had nothing to do with his noxious personal prejudice. And yet, in some small way, it felt like justice.”

Stern’s punching bag: the second baseman who earlier in the playoffs hit home runs in six straight games, setting an all-time postseason record. Stern did not like the fan support Murphy received: “Even I, a fairly thick-skinned gay adult, was stunned by the celerity with which otherwise tolerant baseball fans forgave his anti-gay disparagements once he started hammering homers.”

For the record, here’s how Murphy forthrightly answered a reporter’s question early in March, when baseball’s “ambassador of inclusion,” gay ex–major leaguer Billy Bean (not the Oakland baseball executive Billy Beane), came to the New York Mets spring training camp: “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him … but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

Happily for Stern, Murphy had only three hits in 20 at-bats in the World Series. No home runs. No RBIs. A late-inning, run-allowing error in each of the last two games, helping the Kansas City Royals win the best-of-seven series last night, four games to one. In its story after Saturday’s Game 4 Mets loss, The New York Times did not refer to Murphy’s criticism of homosexuality during spring training this year, after which the Mets ordered him to talk only about baseball from then on. But I wonder if that controversy played a part in the Times’ sarcastic headline: “Daniel Murphy Hit Them High and Far, but Couldn’t Reach Down Low.”

In urban slang, “down low” refers to heterosexuals who secretly engage in homosexual activity. I don’t know who at the Times generated that headline, but other mainstream media headlines played it straight: Time magazine reported, “The Mets Lose and Daniel Murphy Isn’t Mr. October Anymore.” Some internet posts were severe: Murphy “was such a butcher the last two nights, he should be trimming the fat on my next steak.”

I wonder what Stern would write if a gay player flubbed a ground ball, and conservative publications chortled about his manhood and said the error “felt like justice.” Stern could have noted that some players love to brag to reporters when they’ve done well, but character comes out most clearly when they don’t—and Murphy’s showed up well. Newsday noted, “A somber Daniel Murphy was waiting by his locker as the doors to the clubhouse swung open. … He was ready for the questions and when the cameramen had situated themselves, he took accountability. …”

Here’s some of what Murphy said about one error: “I just misplayed it. It went under my glove.” One reporter felt sorry for him and threw out a lifeline: Was the base runner crossing in front of you a distraction? Murphy did not grab the rope: “I didn’t make the play.” Another reporter threw out a second lifeline: Is that a play you make nine times out of 10? Murphy: “I didn’t make it the only time that counts.”

Good for Murphy. Not so good for fans who booed Murphy last night. Not so good for The New York Times and its sarcastic headline. Not so good for Stern and Slate. The only good news is that if Murphy’s fall represented justice served, Stern at least may be acknowledging that there is a Judge—and maybe that could be the beginning of a productive conversation.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.

@MarvinOlasky

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Rich277

The New Puritans are here, and they're not wearing black.

Fani

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)For over a decade I pondered these verses. I understood connecting "the fear of the Lord" to wisdom--that made sense to me. But knowledge? Do you need to have a proper awe of God to understand chemistry, for instance?I've come to realize that without fearing the Lord, even our ability to THINK is compromised. I am fairly certain that Mark Joseph Stern CANNOT understand the point Marvin Olasky is making in this article. It's not a lack of intelligence. It's an inability to step outside of one's own perspective. Without the fear of the Lord, we can lack true humility necessary to comprehend other points of view--and to comprehend when we are wrong.Without having a grasp of the awesomeness of God, we can become unaware of the room (rooms--mansions even!) we grant in our hearts to hatred. "Fear of the Lord" gives us the humility necessary to obey God (accepting his rightful authority) as well as the ABILITY to obey God by truly loving others deeply no matter what. Stern has allowed hatred to construct a skyscraper in his heart, and he's comfortable with that.

TheLanMan

I'd guess that, while disappointed, Murphy slept well after those games.  He knew he didn't leave anything on the field, and he honestly took responsibility for his errors.  I'd also guess the Slate writer was - and is - still stewing in his hate, because he has no concept of true justice.

MTJanet

I think the enemies of God's plan for mankind are pretty clearly delineated when they write about others.  Today it is homosexuality, yesterday it was something else, and tomorrow it will be something else again.  It doesn't really matter what the topic is; it matters that man wants to continue his rebellion against God and never, ever somehow hear that he may be wrong.  There can be no rational discussion with someone who does not want to confront their sin.  

T Williams

Daniel in the Lions' Den. Thank you for responding to the "Slate" article, and for clarifying what Murphy actually said. When I first read the article's idea of justice, I thought of the second baseman from the winning team. You can read the book, "Double Play" to see that Ben Zobrist is also a believer. When I read the sarcastic comment seeking to link Murphy with the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, I remembered hearing Daniel Murphy give his testimony of coming to faith in Christ. He heard the good news through the human agency of a ministry started by a graduate of an institution that was picketed by Westboro. That institution was picketed for expressing the same views that Murphy expressed. The casualness of the inaccuracy and the intensity of the animosity in the "Slate" article served as a "Stern" reminder to me that "all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." I admit that Stern's growling was hard for me to take. Thank you for responding with a desire to see truth blossom, but, also, with a willingness to "invest" in Mr. Stern.

Sawgunner

Tolerance-Enforcemt Agents of the gaystapo are often as relentless as they are relentlessly predictable.Yet oddly enough today the barrage of anger will come most often not from the muzzle of some denizen of the Pride parade demi-monde. Oh no. I recently saw an "Open Letter to Beth Moore" from the parent of a gay young man. These janissaries of the rainbow regiment unleash fierce vitriol indeed. This "open letter" was the subject of a discussion on the blog site of the infamous and oft-maligned Rachel Heald Evans a fave of many here at Worldmag.But back to my point: derision and other abusive rhetoric from the gay community is something anyone who dares question that lifestyle can count on getting. Talk about a "chilling effect" on civil discourse!

Hawaiicharles

It's amazing how people can use language like that, while still asserting it's Christians who are the haters.