Reformer, reform thyself.

It’s hard to argue with Charlie Pierce’s assessment of what Mark Emmert laid on Penn State yesterday.

This is not “reform” because the NCAA, the most corrupt entity in a corrupt business, is still in place, and so are its rules. This is not “reform” because, all over America, there are still multimillion sports enterprises wagging the dog at universities, and coaches with enough power to cover up even the most heinous crimes. This is not “reform” because nothing was, well, reformed.

Even Emmert himself ultimately seems to admit that.

In punishing the Penn State football program with an unprecedented series of sanctions, President Mark Emmert said he hopes the NCAA has served notice that a win-at-all-costs mentality in major college football won’t be tolerated.

This has been a theme for the former University of Washington president since he got the job in October 2010 and scandal after scandal hit the headlines, from Auburn to Miami and State College, Pa.

Yet the NCAA does not plan to overhaul its procedures for handling potential infractions. Emmert made it clear that the $60 million fine, four-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions and more were put together largely by himself and a handful of NCAA leaders because Penn State and serial child molester Jerry Sandusky presented a unique situation.

In other words, few can imagine anything like this happening again.

“This is a statement about this case,” Emmert said.

It’s kinda like the NCAA’s Bush v. Gore moment.  (Remember “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.”?)  Which is why Mark Fox’ question is a purely rhetorical one.

Dogs basketball coach Mark Fox on the NCAA’s decision: “We’re talking about crimes against children. Let’s just hope – and there’s no comparison here, because the offenses are different – but will the NCAA be as stiff with people who cheat to get a competitive advantage? For them to get involved in this, it’s groundbreaking.”

The only precedent that’s been set is that if there’s enough public outrage about a situation, the NCAA will stretch its bylaws and guidelines as far as need be to mollify the outraged.  I’m sure we won’t ever again have to worry about serial child molesters being enabled by major college athletic departments.  As for the business as usual stuff, I’ll believe things have changed for the better when I see it.


Filed under The NCAA

58 responses to “Reformer, reform thyself.

  1. TennesseeDawg

    “The only precedent that’s been set is that if there’s enough public outrage about a situation, the NCAA will stretch its bylaws and guidelines as far as need be to mollify the outraged. ”
    In other words, they are acting just like the federal government

    • The other other Doug

      Never let a crisis go to waste…………

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        If you think about it carefully, what has emerged from all this is the use by the NCAA of this horrible series of events at Penn State to establish the NCAA President as the de facto commissioner of college football.

    • Hackerdog

      You’re assuming the government expands its power to satisfy its constituents. I disagree.

  2. ChicagoDawg

    Of all the things that have occured with this situation and questions to ask, the concern of whether the NCAA, imperfect as they are, over stepped is the least of the issues. Not suggesting we can’t worry about or discuss various aspects of an issue, but I just can’t gin up a lot of emotion about whether Emmert is empowering himself or the NCAA inappropriately.

    I am pissed that I am somehow put in a position of defending the NCAA. They were in an impossible situation and just because Emmert inserted himself. Penn State going and playing in the Rose Bowl this year (not probable, but stranger thing have happened) would have been an absurdity. If the NCAA was too punative — so be it. I think they actually got this one right on all counts.

    • ChicagoDawg

      Meant to say… “and NOT just because Emmert inserted himself”

    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      The criticism of the NCAA has been so vehement yet vague that I almost feel like trying to defend the NCAA-a first, for me. My guess is that PIerce considers the NCAA corrupt because football doesn’t have “enough” of a playoff and the players don’t get paid-nevermind the consequences of “fixing” these problems. I have a hard time with this sort of too-easy righteous indignation.

      Penn State’s penalties are severe and the authority for imposing them isn’t clearly defined, but 1} Penn State agreed to the penalties; and 2} what should have been the appropriate response from the NCAA? Should they have said, “We have no clearly defined authority here and therefore we are going to do nothing?” Imagine what the reaction from these critics would have been to that. Probably something similar to what they are saying now.

      • gastr1

        +1. They had to do something. What would those criticizing the NCAA have had them do? Write new by-laws? Disband? (The latter is a joke, though I know many of you would prefer it.)

        Furthermore, there has to be some kind of organizing institution for college athletics (and it isn’t the conferences, so don’t even go there). Short of that we would have Alabama State or Butler County Community College claiming a national title too if they went 12-0 versus their schedule. What exactly do you want–a better organization with more power? Or an even looser configuration than the one we already have–which has ceded control in football to the BCS and all of its conference-changing, give-us-the-money, we love our Rose Bowl machinations? You don’t get it both ways. The NCAA is a mess, yes, but fixing that mess may be a worse end result, based on your point of view.

  3. JG Shellnutt

    I guess you could call it reform to the degree that the NCAA has essentially made a statement that will resonate with every coach and every AD and every University president in this land…if you find out about something terrible going on, you will come out ahead in the long run to go ahead and take the immediate PR hit as opposed to the smack down you will receive for covering up and enabling.
    If there is any good in this, my hope is that it will help tip the scales for a teetering person in a position of authority to blow the whistle instead of look the other way. Who knows the type of situation in which this might end up being employed, but if it saves one victim (of any type) or even just cleans up the sport a bit…I think some good will have come of this.

    • People are going to jail. The $60 million dollar fine the NCAA imposed is a drop in the bucket compared to what’s coming from the civil courts. Any college administrator who isn’t sobered by that into doing the right thing likely isn’t going to be moved by what the NCAA’s done.

      • ChicagoDawg

        So, as far as “on the field” aspect, are you suggesting it should have been business as usual in 2012? No impact to eligibility, scholarships, JoPa’s record stands, etc?

        • The penalties themselves aren’t an issue for me.

          I’m suggesting that the NCAA should have followed its own established procedures, as opposed to jury-rigging the process.

          I’ve no doubt mine is a minority opinion. For most, this is a situation where the ends justify the means. I just think that’s a very bad rationale to tolerate from an institution like the NCAA.

          • ChicagoDawg

            Understood. I am not advocating mob justice. However, the NCAA has been given a wide birth of discretion by it’s member institutions snd they chose to use it here. I think they happen to get it close to the pin in this one instance.

            • gastr1

              As PSU agreed to the penalties in advance, what exactly has the NCAA violated? You’re saying that if Party A says, “This is unprecedented. Given the unusual nature of the situation and the evidence on the table that we have both seen, we propose X solution,” and Party B says, “Yes, ok, we accept your proposed solution,” Party A is somehow in the wrong even still?

          • JG Shellnutt

            I agree with you that they did things differently this time. They punished things they never had before. They utilized an investigative body they never had before as well. They acted more quickly than they ever had before. And, interestingly, it seems as though they acknowledge that they could not have done this without Penn State’s consent.

            I don’t know if we would be happier, though, if they had launched their own investigation (it took four or five years for them to ‘discover’ that Reggie Bush got paid). Would we all be happier with the process if 4 or 5 years from now, when *hopefully* some of the dust has settled, the NCAA rendered its verdict that the institution of Penn State did not exercise proper control or authority over its athletic department?

            I agree that this heavy-handed and public-sentiment-gala-inspired punishment seems a bit spooky when you think of the future situations in which the NCAA can try to flex this type of muscle again. Heaven knows, I don’t want any type of similar treatment of Georgia for any type of misdeed.

            But, there was a sanctioned investigation. It shows blatantly that Penn State did not have institutional control over the Athletic Department. The NCAA, with Penn State’s agreement, then handed down a verdict (that would preserve TV money, yet still punish the school to the fullest degree).

            That they’ve never punished this type of transgression before and that they’ve never done it this quickly before seems to be the major deviation from their norm. I don’t like the NCAA’s power to increase any at all, either, but I have to admit that if we discovered that Mark Richt enabled a pedophile for a couple of decades and that more victims suffered because of that enabling, I would hope the punishments (criminal, civil, and “football”) would be swift and severe.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            Agreed. See my post above. The NCAA has used this Penn State situation to make Emmert the “Commissioner of College Football.” Watch out everybody. This has the potential for some really bad actions in the future by the NCAA, a body not known for even-handedness.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        So, Senator, is what you are saying is that there is no point in hammering Penn State because it is just a meaningless excercise?

        And that there is no hope of overall improvement in the culture of college football and it will just spiral to its own reward at some point no matter what anyone tries to do?

        I have never been a Pollyana fan, but I am glad I don’t seem to have an End of Days fetish either.

        • I don’t have a problem in the world hammering Penn State. I hope there are lengthy jail times for the guilty and I hope the school is forced to pay through the nose for enabling Sandusky’s behavior.

          I do have an issue with the NCAA making it up as it goes along because the public demands action. As far as the NCAA’s impact on college football culture, I would suggest Emmert’s own words indicate that he expects very little to change from this.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Emmert also seemed to think there was significant language in the NCAA charter which, basically, demanded the NCAA act….unless he was making this up, and if public pressure should not have forced action, what would you suggest?

            While I agree the NCAA is hardly a perfect model, but if not the NCAA, then who?

            The public, in this case, seems to have included the folks who actually run the NCAA…the college presidents et al…based on Emmert’s comments. We all wanted something done, demanded something be done.

            The NCAA manned up.

            Will they fail to man up, or settle on some other penalty at some other school you and I may disagree with?…Probably, but again, somebody had to slap the shit out of Penn State…who better than the NCAA?

            • Hackerdog

              The fact that the NCAA can reinterpret its charter and discover heretofore unknown powers and abilities is to be expected. Governments have been doing it for generations. It also doesn’t make it legitimate.

              I can write a letter to PSU demanding $100 billion in fines. The fact that I have no authority to do so is a trifle when faced with such a moral issue as pedophilia, no?

          • TXBaller

            Ever think that maybe the NCAA is responding in defense….that maybe some liability could be tossed thier way in some, if not all, of the upcoming civil cases? And that this decision (penalties & punishment), made post trial and report, exonerates them (NCAA) to a degree?

            • What possible liability does the NCAA have in this situation?

              • TXBaller

                The University presidents (PSU included) and NCAA president are the direct overseers (known as the NCAA) of college athletic programs – and could be seen as the ULTIMATE logical extension of the gross failure & lack of procedural enforcement to report Sandusky’s perversions; regardless of their direct knowledge or not (even though one of their own – Spanier – was aware). As we all know, shit don’t always roll down hill….sometimes it defies gravity.

      • No One Knows You're a Dawg

        “drop in the bucket”

        I read “somewhere” recently that the victims of the Catholic Church abuse cases received on average about one million dollars each from their settlement. I also read that Penn State,between its (self) insurance and endowment, has a billion and half dollars available. I think Penn State will get dinged financially, but not hurt.

    • Connor

      Watergate was 40 years ago and no one learned that lesson. If anything the draconian sanctions leveled against PSU will probably just encourage adminstrators to be more proactive in covering this stuff up. Not saying they shouldn’t be sanctioned, but we constantly see someone who gets punished more for covering up a crime than for the crime itself, and the lesson never seems to sink in.

  4. Lrgk9

    Here is my thought – Back in my grandfater’s day these kind of things were handled with a get out of town meeting between the offender and the powerful men in town. There was a quiet and powerful statement that you and your family had to go – somewhere else.

    I believe Joe Paterno was part of that generation and he closely guarded his fiefdom of which Sandusky was a part. In 1998 he was going to send Jerry packing (he should have been sending him to jail) as that was his mindset.

    Then, and this is the sick part, Sandusky had a hold card that let him get out of it and back into the stream. Once Joe handled it privately and the hold card was played in 1998 – the same result occurred in 2001. What it is that Sandusky had and on whom is the real problem here, NO WAY the man gets to stay w/o significant leverage. To me that leverage came from one or more individuals in the administration.

    The NCAA penalties are directed at those snakes and rats in the the Penn State hierarchy that reinstated Sandusky. Paterno was a victim of his ego and the generational belief that you hide this stuff and handle it privately. Somebody(ies) in the management arena reinstated Sandusky – not once but twice. How that could happen smells really bad.

    Now Emmert – what a popinjay. He and Mike Adams are a pair. All about the outside of the cup, walking round painting sepulcheres, and making sure everyone sees their piousness.

  5. The NCAA weighing in here is kind of like the FAA leveling fines and penalties against al-Qaeda after 9/11. Yeah, the air transit system was thrown into chaos, but is that the real issue here?

    The justice system exists for a reason. Everyone who’s still alive enough to be prosecuted for PSU’s failings in the Sandusky scandal is in the process of being prosecuted. The NCAA is just trying to throw its weight around with a bunch of after-the-fact penalties that, as always, will punish everyone except for the people who were actually responsible for the crimes.

    • So you disagree with the punishment doled out by the NCAA? Sounds a tad like the ‘Its not a football issue’ argument.

      • Doug

        Who’s left for the NCAA to punish? Jerry Sandusky’s in jail. Joe Paterno is dead. Curley and Schultz are jobless and probably headed for jail time themselves. Graham Spanier resigned and will probably be writing checks to the victims’ lawyers for the rest of his life.

        The courts system is taking care of this exactly the way it’s supposed to. What the NCAA is doing is lashing out in a very knee-jerk, unfocused manner that will impact a lot of innocent university employees and student-athletes but have absolutely no effect on the people who were actually responsible for covering up Sandusky’s crimes.

        Ever seen the movie “Friday”? Remember the very end, where Ice Cube finally beat down Deebo? And then, when Deebo was knocked out cold and no longer presented a threat, crackhead Ezell came in, punched him in the face, and took his shoes? That’s pretty much all the NCAA has accomplished here.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Doug, Ezell got away with a pair of shoes out of that. The NCAA got away with expanding its power over colleges and by establishing its President as the de facto Commissioner of College Football, and probably all college sports, out of this. However, your metaphor is an apt description for what the NCAA did in this instance.

          • Dog in Fla

            That reminds me of Joe Torre setting what was then a record by grounding into four double plays. Each time after Felix Millan had singled ahead of him. After the game Torre said, “I’d like to thank Felix Millan for making this all possible,”

    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      In any case of wrongdoing, just because criminal punishment is available doesn’t necessarily mean it should be the only sanction available.

    • Chopdawg

      Word. The NCAA could’ve done nothing at all, just let criminal and civil proceedings play out. Every suit that’s filed, every courtroom video highlight played on TV, will be like another drop of acid rain falling on their program. Every coach will remind recruits & their parents, some more subtlely than others, what went on for years at PSU.

      What distresses me the most is that schools like Penn State can pay $60 million in NCAA fines without even protesting. Where do they get all that money?

  6. 79Dawg

    I posted this last night at the end of the last thread, but from Charlie’s comments, it seems like he and I are on (somewhat) the same page….

    I agree with what appears to be a majority of the commentors – the appropriate punishment for Penn State rests in the civil and criminal courts. The NCAA penalties are basically nothing more than extortion – a wealth transfer from boosters, alumni and a PUBLIC university to charitable causes. (I’d be pretty pissed as a Georgia taxpayer and Hartman Fund donor if I knew my money was basically going to some charity – regardless of the merits of the cause or not – rather than to the University).
    I say all this after reading most of the Freeh report and realizing that the President, VP for Finance and AD were pretty much typical bureaucratic scumbags; the GC was a total idiot; the Trustees were largely asleep at the wheel; and as much benefit of the doubt as I’d like to give Joe, because he always seemed like a nice guy on TV, you can’t read the report without thinking he should have known something was rotten in State College and should have done more about it.
    In addition, the idea that this is going to somehow help the university regain control over the football/athletic programs is a joke. At any big university, I-A football has become the most highly visible “symbol” of the university over the past 30-40 years, and the NCAA’s actions today don’t do anything to change that. (I mean, Michael Adams loved to pretend that athletics didn’t run the University and publicly – mostly for his NCAA/political buddies I assume – seemed very anti-athleticcs; but he was on the field before every football game (including the away ones), acting like a pompous ass, and is one of the first guy’s in the locker room after the game.)
    The same can be said for all the “holier than thou” media members now applauding the NCAA’s actions – until they start writing columns and having 3-hour radio shows about how great colleges’ academic programs are, rather than talking about intercollegiate athletics, they need to drop the attitude and stop being posers.
    Thus, instead of “restoring the balance” between academics and athletics, the NCAA’s actions today only reinforce the sad notion that I-A football is becoming the NFL’s AAA (i.e. its just bidness).

    • ” until they start writing columns and having 3-hour radio shows about how great colleges’ academic programs are, rather than talking about intercollegiate athletics” Amen brother.

      But I’ll ask you what I asked Doug above, you think the NCAA should not of taken any action?

      • 79Dawg

        The wrongdoers will get their due in the civil and criminal courts; those are the institutions we have set up to deal with these types of situations. That is why there isn’t anything in the NCAA rulebook to deal with these types of situations, and why the Executive Committee had to unilaterally grant these broad powers to Emmert in order for him to take the pound of flesh.
        The only principled punishment the NCAA could mete out would have been expulsion – your acts (and omissions) were so horrendous that we don’t even want to be associated with you. Forcing Joe to vacate his wins rings hollow, and the loss of scholarships and fine is nothing more than an attempt to satisfy the a large segment of the public’s and media’s bloodthirst for vengeance. Unfortunately, the NCAA, Big Ten, ESPN, etc. NEED Penn State so they can keep the money wheel spinning…

  7. This situation is also unique because Penn State is so complicit in the sanctions, it’s almost comparable to a consent order or a consent judgment, minus some of the formalities. Given the current climate in Happy Valley (and the nation for that matter) which requires screaming at a certain pitch lest you be deemed in favor of child molestation, every person in any position of authority at Penn State is in full self-flagellation mode. Given that, I’d say these sanctions set a precedent only in cases where a powerful coach uses his influence within a powerful athletic department and possibly a companion children’s charity to further his interest in molesting children. Which really means no precedent at all. Bush v. Gore is a great example, but probably doesn’t even put a fine enough point on it. I have really appreciated the circumspection on your blog, Senator.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Emmert called the punishment a consent decree.

      • Good catch.
        /nods solemnly

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          rabe76, I have read your take on this and appreciate your thoughtful insight. That said, I respectfully disagree that there is “no precedent at all” established by this action. The next time something major happens the President of the NCAA will act like the Commissioner of the NFL and just impose something on whatever the school may be using this case as supporting authority and nobody will remember, nor will the media even comment, that the Penn State situation was essentially a “consent decree.” The NCAA has now established that it can just make up whatever punishment it wants to make up and impose it at will without due process. We can only hope that this is a benign dictatorship and that Emmert (and his successors) are more Philip of Monaco rather than Benito Mussollini.

          • Cojones

            They got their info through the Freeh Report of Investigation. That’s when we all found out that the e-mails exchanged between the hierarchy and Paterno flatly showed complicity in coverup. With that proof that the Athletics Dept were the powerful entity that could have acted (instead of claiming they were dependent on higher-ups to take action) and the higher-ups not only dropped responsibility, but instead, tried to cover up, enabling the perpetrator to return to campus in good stead and continue his perversion on school (ath dept) grounds , they showed lack of institutional control, the most egregious offense in the NCAA arsenal.

            What kind of due process do you think should have gone further? Don’t think the NCAA is set up like a court or law enforcer. Beyond the findings of the Freeh Report, what other due process are they due from the NCAA? We damn them for not coming down on USC concerning Reggie Bush; we damn them for not completely addressing the tOSU debacle; we watched while they told us how they were putting teeth into their investigations and were building a big team to investigate and punish the nonlevel playing field antics of cheaters in the organization. Now, when we get some stick’em applied to their actions, they still are the mean old corrupt organization that can’t act. Bullshit!

            • You sure have a funny idea about what constitutes due process, Cojones.

              • Cojones

                Perhaps I’m putting too much emphasis on “due process” meaning due process of the law to me. What law does NCAA adjudicate? It is an organization of members that give the NCAA their charge for action against those who break the rules of that organization. I don’t know of any laws that have been passed.

                If you mean that they weren’t investigated for years (not necessary, what with the Freeh Report stating that institutional control of the Athletic Dept was lost), given a chance to appeal ad infinitum and have all of this punishment added as an afterthought in 4-5 meaningless years; that isn’t a process that’s due them in this instance. They agreed to this process and signed off. PSU felt it could be much worse if they didn’t. For the sake of the players, they all acted correctly and swiftly.

                Perhaps you could tell me what TMOD meant by the words “due process”.

                • They agreed to this process and signed off.

                  What process? They were threatened with the death penalty by an agency that indicated it wasn’t bound by its own rules and by-laws to dispense punishment.

                  • Mayor of Dawgtown

                    +1. Basically Penn State capitulated to the punishment to avoid the death penalty and to try to draw a bright line ending this in order to put this scandal behind them and move forward. The NCAA used this case as a means to create a way to by-pass the adjudication and appeals process which had been in place for years and replace it with fiat of the President.

                    • Cojones

                      PSU, not the NCAA, “used this case” to continue football and as a means to by-pass the adjudication and appeals process. It was their decision and that constituted their “due process” as far as I’m concerned. I hold no paranoia for the reasons the NCAA did this. To accuse them of a “take away their guns” mentality throughout their process with PSU is silly.

                    • Mayor of Dawgtown

                      Cojones, you are right about the fact that PSU used this punishment method as a means to avoid the death penalty. But the Senator is also right that the NCAA used this as an opportunity to greatly expand its power and by-pass the adjudication and appeal process and replace it with dictatorship.

                    • Hackerdog

                      So, if a mugger tells you, “Your money or your life” and you pay him, he can consider it a donation since you voluntarily handed it over? I disagree.

      • 69Dawg

        It has since come out that the “Consent Decree” was agreed to as part of a plea bargain by the school. The NCAA basically said you have a choice this or a multiple year death penalty, which would be the results if you want to drag this out. PSU having a lot on it’s plate did not want it to drag on and knew that the death penalty would hurt the University and town worst than the penalties offered sign up. All you lawyers out there can appreciate the fact that the NCAA just used the stick on this one.

  8. Dog in Fla

    The NCAA Executive Committee, its Division I Board of Directors, Emmert and the Penn State President, Athletic Director and Board of Trustees “enhanced their dudgeon with the sort of exquisite butthurt for which they have become universally known.” (h/t Village Voice)

  9. +1,000 for Charlie Pierce!

  10. 81Dog

    I cant get too outraged about the NCAA’s “overstepping its bounds.” It’s only a precedent for the next time a 15 plus year coverup, orchestrated by the school administration at the highest level, involving the head coach to protect an assistant/former assistant coach from a criminal investigation, which allowed said former assistant to egregiously continue his known criminal behavior, and which behavior was greatly aided and abetted by his basically unfettered access to university facilities and games, occurs AND the alleged offending school agrees in advance to NCAA jurisdiction and penalties.

    I know the argument about the camel’s nose getting into the tent, but this case is so different in the scope of the wrongdoing, and so clearly based on a desire to specifically protect the football program, that I cant see any clear way for this to become a situation where the NCAA revokes scholarships at UGA because some player got a DUI in the offseason.

    As for poor, pitiful Penn State admins snivelling that they “had to take this or face the death penalty.” I’m not really moved. They have plenty of money for lawyers. Hire some and challenge the NCAA’s jurisdiction if it’s so clear they can’t do it. Or, fight for “due process.” It’s hard for me to see how they were denied “due process” when they 1. gave Louis Freeh unfettered voluntary access to PSU records and personnel, 2. accepted without protest the findings of the Freeh Report, and 3. agreed in advance to NCAA jurisdiction, and the imposition of sanctions, based on the factual findings made in the Freeh Report. What were they going to say at an NCAA hearing 6 months or a year from now? “Ummmm, well, you know, it wasnt THAT bad.”

    Spare me the caterwauling of the Brent Musbergers of the world. There are a lot of things more important than playing football, and if the desire to protect what is basically entertainment is greater than the need to protect innocent children from a child rapist, someone’s priorities are way out of whack. God forbid “innocent fans” lose their fall entertainment, or have it affected in any way. I mean, sure, mistakes were made, but dont take away our football.

    PSU decided to make a deal. It’s the last refuge of scoundrels to make the deal, and then turn around and claim they didnt have a choice. They had a choice, now let them man up and live with it. They had a lot more choice than the poor kid McQueery left in the shower with Jerry, or the kids who got molested after the powers that be decided to protect their precious image and program in 1998. They’re lucky they didnt get a lot worse at Penn State, if you ask me, and they should quit crying about what they agreed to take. But, that’s just my opinion.

    • Cojones

      Thanks for joining in concerning my “funny idea” about what “due process” was.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        The Senator read different books, Cojones.

        • Cojones

          Nah. We read some of the same books only I read them differently on purpose. It stirs the bubbling pot of discussion better. I appreciate the Senator’s efforts and think that he would be the first one to quote Voltaire. While I might quote him as well, his statement would be altered ever so small:

          I may not believe in a thing that you say, but I will fight to your death your right to say it.