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May 21, 2015 — Tone-deafness as policy

In a climate of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, the New York Liberty of the WNBA is about to do something which could wind up being tragic.

The Liberty are about to install, as team president and part-owner, NBA Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas. The problem is that Thomas was a defendant in a $12 million judgment against the New York Knicks when Thomas was team president. The charge? Sexual harassment.

It’s befuddling. And, frankly, tone-deaf at the same time.

But the thing is, there has been a lot of moves made by people in sport and in society which have had the same effect of running counter to popular belief, sentiment, or common sense.

In an era when our society is coming around to the ideas of same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, and the separation of church and state, proposals have been made to legislatures to curb many of these rights despite popular sentiment against these restrictions. It’s as if though some legislators have not been listening to the public.

There is also a dance promoter in Russia who hired a teacher for a major event. The teacher has been a long-standing pillar of the community, but who has been publicly accused by many women of sexual harassment. The controversy has roiled the community, even as the promoter has been feigning ignorance about the crimes of which the teacher is accused.

It’s almost as if though tone-deafness has become part of our society — not necessarily because of free-spiritedness or because of not worrying about what others might think. Instead, this kind of tone-deafness is borne of a combination of mean-spiritedness and arrogance.

Its almost as if those making the decisions are making the decisions because they can.

Somehow, I don’t think this will end well in New York.

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