Friday, January 25, 2008

Kelly Tilghman vs Dana Jacobsen - Which is Worse?

If you're into sports, you've probably heard about the controversy surrounding Golf Channel announcer Kelly Tilghman. A couple of weeks ago she suggested on air that the only way to beat Tiger Woods might be to "lynch him in a back alley". Her off the cuff, poor attempt at humor earned her a two week suspension and significant criticism. After serving her suspension, she was recently back on the air, starting with a clear and sincere apology before diving into the substance of her work.

A lesser known debacle involves Dana Jacobsen, the ESPN anchor. In a celebrity roast for the hosts of the Mike & Mike show, she cursed like a sailor and used an expletive in reference to Jesus. ESPN's response was slow coming but under pressure by religious groups, they eventually gave her a one week suspension coupled with a weak apology.

I'm no social or cultural activist but this really bothers me. Let's see how the math on this works:

Humorously suggest lynching Tiger Woods - 2 week suspension
Curse and blaspheme Jesus Christ - 1 week suspension

Don't get me wrong - both are reprehensible but the outrage surrounding the "lynching" comment far outweighed the response to the Jacobsen's blasphemous tirade. It's a commentary about what the American popular culture functionally views as valuable and important. Let's face it - for mainstream popular culture, God doesn't really exist nor does He weigh upon the national conscience.

In short, the point isn't what these controversies say about Ms. Tilghman or Ms. Jacobsen - it's what it says about us. Make no mistake about it - this loss of the fear of God is a sad indictment on our nation.

What do you think?


Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I would think the fear of God would be considered truly a blessing of common grace. We certainly don't live in a day when a sermon from Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" would make much of a dent. It would be, and surely is considered an oddity, to the general population now.

Fear of God is true and important for every age, modern, postmodern, medieval, premodern, whatever age. That will never grow old.

L.L. Barkat said...

I wonder if, in an unexpected way, the two disrespects are related.

Every Square Inch said...


Yes, it interesting to consider if Edwards classic sermon would even cause a ripple today...certainly as you say, it would be an oddity.


In what way? Please do tell more.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I'm going to agree with LL, or at least where I think she is going - two weeks equals treatment of the symptom because only 1 week = treatment of the cause.

As to my blog, I think it took on a life of it's own having little to do with me and much to do with a forum where (as long as they were civil to one another) they could express themselves openly. I always appreciate your presence, even if unspoken, for I know it to be a voice of reason as well as faith.

mark said...

So, I have this conversation with a co-worker, and I try to convey the sense about sin. Co-worker finds "sin" irrelevant. Lack of conscience?

Perhaps the two comments span the gamut of sin: against God and against the image of God.
Thus the comments would be the left and right hands of a culture that has a corrupt heart in between them.

Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for taking a break from your rather active blog discussion to stop by.

If I understand your point, you're saying that the 2 weeks was more a reflection of the negative feedback rather than the actual offense? Whereas with Dana Jacobsen the negative feedback was more muted, hence the 1 week.

I suspect that's true and my point wasn't so much about the "suspension math" as much as how as a culture we no longer blink at blasphemy or disrespect towards God.

I'm still not sure of LL's point but I sure would love to find out what she was thinking. Hopefully, she'll stop by and illuminate this discussion.

Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for stopping by and adding to conversation with your comment.

Your anecdote is interesting - one of the aspects of post modern American society is that common, foundational truths like the notion of sin, a universal standard of morality, etc... no longer register in the mind of the average person.

Your conversation w/ your coworker is a perfect example. It also makes evangelism more challenging...there is no longer an accepted common lexicon to convey truth.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Sorry, guess I wasn't very clear. I was thinking more in terms of worshipping the creation instead of the creator - therefore dissing the creation engenders more punishment than blasphemy against the Creator.

Every Square Inch said...

OK - I see what you mean and it is quite insightful and makes perfect sense. (You have to spell things out for me)

Yes, if the culture worships the creature rather than the Creator (per Romans 1), then it only makes sense that the offense against the creature would warrant a stronger response than the offense against the true God.


Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

you're more than welcome

I was also thinking of weeding gardens - takes more than twice as much effort to keep breaking the weeds off at the ground surface than it does to just deal with the problem for once and for all and pull out the root - yet my kids would always opt for the appearance of good.

So - I guess the punishment is like that -opting for the appearance of good when the real root problem got little attention at all.