Bringing the Heat

Bringing the Heat

Bringing the Heat

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 18 2005 5:07 PM

Bringing the Heat

Bloggers slam the performance of evasive Mark McGwire and his congressional interlocutors at Thursday's steroid hearings. They also discuss the merits of retributive torture and furiously debate the fate of comatose Terri Schiavo.

Bringing the heat: Ten current and former major league baseball players and executives testified yesterday before the House Committee on Government Reform. ESPN has a lengthy account of the testimony, evaluations of the players' performances before congress, and reactions from players warming up in Spring Training. Read Slate's Josh Levin's account here.

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Noting that "Congressmen Are Vermin," libertarian Lew Rockwell writes that "a panel of sanctimonious parasites in DC, pausing in their usual business of murder (war), theft (taxation), terrorism (homeland security). and extortion (regulation), ritually humiliated a group of men who have actually contributed to society, baseball players." At Vertical Smiles, Minnesotan Dumb Ol' Nick calls the hearing a witch hunt: "Their apparent goal isn't to improve the game, it's to trap users into admitting [using]."

Many bloggers intuit guilt behind Mark McGwire's steely appeals to privacy. "McGwire looked awful, and pleading the fifth unfortunately is as incriminating as saying 'I always used steroids, and I think they're great!'" writes student Dave Haller, in a comprehensive round-up at Knuckleball Sandwich. "These hearings, if nothing else, are forcing the public arena to start discussing the impact of science on sports," writes journalist Sam Jaffe. "I believe that there's nothing that can be done in the long term. … But I think we are the last generation to be lucky enough to have sports. Let's make them endure as long as they can and enjoy them while they last."

Read more about the steroid hearing.

Torturous debate: The BBC reported Wednesday that an Iranian serial killer was tortured publicly by relatives of his victims before being brutally executed. Law professor Eugene Volokh ardently defends the concept of public torture. "I particularly like the involvement of the victims' relatives in the killing of the monster; I think that if he'd killed one of my relatives, I would have wanted to play a role in killing him," he writes. "I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness."

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The anonymous lawyer and musician at Strange Doctrines writes, "There's a part of me too that would desire to meet savagery with savagery," but "there's another part of me that knows my humanity would be substantially diminished." Software engineer and author Clayton Cramer finds "especially disturbing … the notion … that this torturous revenge constitutes justice. Does it bring back the dead children? Does it go back in time and prevent their suffering?"

"It was a lynching, and lynching is not the 'rule of law': lynching is what the rule of law is meant to sublimate and replace," writes Maimon Schwarzschild at San Diego-area blog The Right Coast. Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of policy studies, asks Americans repulsed by the idea of institutionalized torture to note that "prisons, too, are places of organized cruelty – much of it, it might be added, irrelevant to the task of crime control. … It's a deeply sick fact about American politics that opposing the cruelty of our prisons and favoring measures to identify the innocent imprisoned are regarded as fringe-liberal positions."

Read more of the debate here.

Terri Schiavo: Early Friday, legislators in Washington, D.C., tried to stop the removal of a feeding tube from the severely brain damaged * Terri Schiavo. The presiding Florida judge overruled the appeals from Washington. The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum bridles at "an obvious abuse of congressional power." But what is "really nauseating," he continues, "is the almost slavering Republican eagerness to treat Schiavo as a common media spectacle." Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin heartily applauds the National Review Online's Andrew McCarthy, who calls the removal of the tube "court-ordered torture."

Read Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on the Schiavo case here, Clive Thompson on brain damage here, and more blog posts about Terri Schiavo here.

Have a question, comment, or suggestion for Today's Blogs? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.

Correction, March 21: This article originally stated that Terri Schiavo is "comatose."  Though not all neurological experts agree about Schiavo's brain function, her condition is most commonly referred to as a "persistent vegetative state," a comalike condition in which the patient is still capable of some limited movement. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)