Paid To Call The Corners

April13/ 2011

Firemen are not heroes for playing cards in the firehouse.  Firemen are heroes for running into burning buildings.  Umpires are not paid to call belt-high fastballs down the middle of the plate.  They get paid to call the corners.

College Chancellors get paid to “call the corners” and to be the cool head when all about them are losing theirs.  Some times Chancellors lose their heads too.  This week was one of those times.


The University of North Carolina is to controversy & crisis like Japan is to earthquakes & tsunamis.  Before they can clean up the last one, here comes the next one.

Holden Thorp’s drivers license says Holden, but he is expected to be Solomon.   His thespian background notwithstanding Solomon is an impossible role for anyone to play.  Be he Chancellor, Coach, Boss or Daddy.

When Roy’s Boys returned from Detroit with the nets in ‘09, Holden introduced the team at a Dean Dome victory party.  I remarked Relish such occasions.  Emceeing pep rallies is not why you get hazardous duty pay.

Being a Chancellor is a damn tough job.  A major college campus is a lightning rod for controversies, contrived and otherwise.  A Chancellor has two types of days – (1) Days he is up-to-his armpits arbitrating one or more complicated controversies – (2) Days between the last and the next controversy.  Every day Chancellor Solomon has to decide “who gets the baby”.

Tuesday morning (4/12) Holden Thorp announced that he was reporting to federal authorities that a “hate crime” had occurred on his campus.  A student had reported on April 5 that he was accosted, burned with some sort of hot object and called a derogatory name related to his sexual orientation.  Crystal Mangum once filed a similar report.  Tawana Brawley once filed a similar report.  Uh oh!

Later the same afternoon, the incident as reported by the alleged victim – Quinn Matney – was formally declared a hoax.  “The aggravated assault did NOT take place ….”  A hate crime HOAX had occurred on Holden’s campus.

In each notorious “hate crime” hoaxes, there was a knee-jerk reaction to take initial statements at face value and rush to dramatic conclusions.  It’s one thing for the general public to do so.  Quite another for responsible authorities to do so.   No one considers “the media” as responsible any longer.  “The media” was the first knee to jerk in Duke Lacrosse.

The campus gay organization strongly criticized the Chancellor for not immediately declaring the non-crime as “a hate crime”.  Give the false alarm even more time to generate more chaos.  Amid confusion and chaos a cool head must prevail.  Is it Dad?  Mom?  Coach? The platoon sergeant?   The Chancellor?  In this case the cool head was the UNC Dept of Public Safety (aka the campus cops)

A contrived incident was elevated to EXTRA EXTRA – Hate Crime at UNC because the top campus administrator was coerced into yelling FIRE in a crowded theater.

In the aftermath, Wednesday morning QBs are smugly declaring “I knew it was bogus.”  No They Didn’t.  Hindsighters KNEW Crystal Mangum was lying.  No They Didn’t.   The only ones who KNEW were those directly involved.   Speculation is not Knowing even when the speculation turns out to be correct.

Hate crime is a political term employed by special interests groups.  It is not a legal term.  Yes there is ample prejudice and bigotry in our society against people of all racial, ethnic, religious, political and lifestyle persuasions.  When prejudice and bigotry manifests itself in violence it is a crime.  People are persecuted for all sorts of reasons that amount to “You are different from me.  That bothers me so much I’m going to hurt you.

As a Christian Conservative I am called vile insulting names every day. It makes me cringe and I resent it.

I anticipate those situations. I avoid them

Overtly declaring my political beliefs could put me in physical danger in certain environments today.   I anticipate those situations and avoid them.  Coincidentally, Chapel Hill-Carrboro is one of those environments.

Are homosexuals, blacks, women, muslims, midgets, Jews, liberals, academics, law enforcement officials, elected officials, people like me ….. even San Francisco Giant baseball fans at risk of physical persecution in America in 2011.  Yep.

Civility is eroding faster than the globe is warming or the icecaps melting.  “Hate” is the kudzu that is overtaking society.  None of us is immune to someone else’s hate.  Quinn Matney might have been attacked because he was gay.  But he wasn’t.

IF there had been an attack and the attacker found to be affiliated with homophobic hate groups or simply a braindead sicko in a bigoted rage, prosecute to the full extent of his crime.  Make him an example of how overt bigotry can manifest itself.

Erskine Bowles once told me he could never attend a UNC v NCState sports event as UNC System Prez.   Being a UNC alum he knew his personal partisanship in the excitement of the game would be inappropriate.  One of a series of incredible insights I have gleaned from my friendship with the oft-controversial Mr Bowles.   As smart and as insightful as he is Erskine blew it Big Time in the Mary Easley Mess.

I have defended Holden Thorp often on this website.

I vigorously oppose the administrative pardoning of Butch Davis; but I understand the motives behind it.  UNC is simply another college that has sold it’s soul for Saturday afternoon vanity.  That is a reality I have accepted (while cancelling my season tickets.)

I agreed with his decision on the Library Christmas Tree.  That was misconstrued by those who themselves knee-jerk to the right on any UNC decisions.

I agreed with his reaction/response to the Tancredo / Mad Little Haley & the pepper spray controversy.

I agree that Bart Ehrmann has academic freedom to tout his arrogant disbelief in The Bible.  …. and Gene Nichol to be Gene Nichol.

I understand why Dickie Baddour is still UNC’s Director of Athletics.

In February, Holden jokingly tweeted a jibe at Duke students’.  Snarky humor is not his forte.  Realizing the inappropriateness of his remark he quickly tweeted an apology.  An inappropriate remark resolved by an appropriate apology.  Making a mistake is NOT a “hate crime”.  We all make them …. even Chancellors.

Now it appears, true or not, that aggressive radical factions have undue influence at UNC.  Such factions have haunted the UNC campus for decades playing havoc with every Chancellor.

Hellfire, why not invite GLAD to Pro Day too.  Let Quinn Matney wear a blue helmet.  Give a freakin’ degree in Creative Misbehavior.

For a young Chancellor negotiating a minefield on a pogo stick while climbing a steep learning curve, Holden has not done that poorly.  Solomon is not available.  I still believe Holden Thorp is not a bad option.

FWIW …. his predecessor, The Meez, would have (1) organized a campus-wide candlelight vigil by noon and (2) ordered all Christian and Republican students and staff rounded up as likely suspects.   Over-reaction is a relative term on the UNC campus.

As individuals we all jump to conclusions dictated by our prejudices vs Mike Krzyzewski …. Mark Gottfried …. Butch Davis …. Bart Ehrmann ….  Sarah Palin … Quinn Matney.   But  someone has to be the last bastion of reason – Horatio At The Bridge – keeping the screeching barbarians from the gate.   On the UNC campus, if not The Chancellor then Who?  Certainly not the Trustees.  Maybe no one.

It took the university six months to declare “Butch didn’t know nuthin’”.   It took 10 minutes to declare this hoax a “hate crime”.  Some will say they were fooled both times.


This was a difficult column to write.  I prefer belt-high fastballs.  Someone has to call the corners.  If not me, then who?


I was discussing the above with the Executive Editor of The N&O.  I told him he dodged a bullet this time.  This being only an 8-hour firestorm, his paper could not “do another Duke Lacrosse” – launch a full-blown media assault based on speculation that conveniently fit his paper’s socio-political agenda.

The efficiency of UNC’s campus cops in extinguishing the incendiary incident was faster than N&O’s printing presses could trumpet their speculation.   The Editor harrumphed.  They harrumph a lot down at The N&O.

FWIW:  Crystal Mangum’s boyfriend, Reginald, the one she stabbed w/ a butcha knife, has died.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x