Thursday, February 27, 2014

Weather a capricious partner in the game of life

Despite the horror stories coming out of the eastern and southern parts of country, the problem that severe weather conditions cause mostly discomfit in  getting to or from where people need to go (like work), or while looking at their electric bills. For a few people, however, weather conditions are the controlling factor in their lives; weather conditions dictate how they live and work, where they live, and when it is “safe” to move. While most people work either inside a building or a vehicle, for others who spend almost their entire day outside, the local weather report—often wrong—is the single most important piece of information they will need. In Western Washington, which has a reputation for “mild” winters, the reality is that the weather usually fluctuates between periods of either frequent rain, or that of near (or below) freezing temperatures; according to the latest “forecast,” the first few days of March are to see low temperatures (supposedly) near or below freezing. But then again, that was yesterday; today it is likely an entirely different tale.

It is of course foolish to make any "assumptions" about the weather around here more than 24 hours  in advance, since it likes to play dirty tricks on people. I used to check the "long range" forecast--meaning three days--and actually believe it was going to hold-up for at least that long. I might leave my wet-weather gear at home, and find myself spending 10 hours trying to ward off an impending fever. Other times, I feel like a fool because I was "told" that it was going to rain, and there was the sun, laughing at me. If you are out "camping" without a "camp," that's another issue altogether.

Of course, the Pacific Northwest is rather “mild” when compared to other locales. Yesterday, the National Weather Service reported that “A bitterly cold arctic air mass continues to invade the eastern 2/3 of the country on Wednesday, bringing high temperatures that are 15-30 degrees below normal for many locations. High temperatures on Wednesday will be in the single digits or teens across much of the northern Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Meanwhile, temperatures will be 10-15 degrees above normal across parts of the West.” While temperatures will improve later in the week in most places, the Great Lakes region is set to receive a “reinforcing shot of cold weather” which will send temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below normal.

In fact, the Midwest has been in the grip of  abnormally frigid temperatures for so long that 88 percent of the Great Lakes surface area is completely frozen over. Having spent my youth in Wisconsin, I can imagine what it is like working outside at one of the airports in the region during the winter, especially when the wind is blowing; some of these whiners who spend half their time standing around would have plenty more to “complain” about if they worked out there. 

Meanwhile, “A long-standing ridge in the West will give way to an approaching Pacific system, allowing precipitation to spread inland over the Western U.S. beginning later today.  Drought stricken California should see the brunt of the action, with the highest totals expected along the Sierra and the coastal ranges.  By Thursday expect this system to move across the Great Basin into the Rockies, but with another system nearing the California coast by early Friday.” This sounds like “good” news, since California has been the hot grip of record low rain and snowfall in the past year, with nearly all reservoirs below 50 percent of normal capacity.  According to the NWS’ latest Drought Outlook, half the country west of the Mississippi River is experiencing drought conditions. That includes Western Washington, which despite heavier than normal rainfall in February is still far below normal since the “rainy” season began October 1; increased rain during the springtime will do little to compensate for the lack of snowpack during the coldest period of year. 

Yet the same high-pressure system with its southerly winds that has brought about the severest drought conditions in recent memory in California is also responsible for some of the warmest temperatures Alaska has seen in many years; temperatures throughout the state were “summer-like” in Octobers, and some locations saw rather shockingly high temperatures in January. Fairbanks was practically brought to a standstill by rainfall, while the Kenai Peninsula saw temperatures near or at 60 degrees. The 62 degrees recorded at NOAA’s Climate Reference Station near Port Alsworth in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve on January 27 tied the record highest temperature in Alaska for January. The average temperature for the entirety of the state in January was 29.4 degrees, which was considerable warmer than many parts of the U.S. hit by Arctic fronts. 

At any rate, the unpredictable nature of the weather is certainly fascinating for the amateur meteorologist, especially when the professionals seem to be employing astrology in making their “predictions.” There are certainly places you would rather not be at this time of year, accurate forecasts or not. Unhappily, it rather seems that if the weather is top most on your mind when you start your day (or night), the best that can be done is take one day at a time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homelessness and the politics of fear

I confess that my personal experiences with police officers have generally aroused negative feelings in me towards them. However, a recent encounter which found me ensnared in Kent’s recently “revitalized” campaign to rid the city of any sight or sound of homeless people persuaded me to accept an offer from a police supervisor to discuss the matter. I came away from this meeting believing that it had been constructive, insofar that I obtained a fuller understanding of the perspective of the police in regard to their responsibilities (or perceived responsibilities from the public). 

It was also understood, at least by this officer, that it was inevitable that “good” people trying to be productive citizens would be caught-up in these homeless people sweeps, but the police didn’t have the time or inclination to sort out the chaff from the wheat. In theory, everyone has to be treated the “same,” although in practice that certainly is not the case. Still, I decided afterward that enough good will was aroused in me that I would make a powerful effort to refrain from making derogatory comments or offensive hand gestures every time a Kent police officer looked at me; I wondered if I should offer friendly gestures or comments, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that, given the nature of my many prior experiences.

As far as the substance of the conversation, I learned the following: Although this wasn’t stated in the media reports that I read, Kent officials apparently rejected the establishment of a homeless shelter because they claimed that they would be prevented from having any control over the operation. This is due to the fact that the Union Gospel Mission receives nearly all of its revenue from private contributions and “legacies.” In Seattle, this is 95 percent of it’s just under $20 million in revenue, according to its last fiscal report. Because it receives no government funding, the Mission is technically a private non-profit entity and is not responsible to local governments about how it runs its operation. 

Kent apparently wanted a “say” about who the Mission allowed inside the proposed shelter, and regulate their behavior. The stated concern seemed to be that some homeless people who were engaged in criminal activities, like illegal drug production and dealing, would be able to operate “safely” inside the shelter. No doubt there was also the fear that the shelter would be a magnet for all kinds of undesirable “riff-raff,” such as chronic inebriates and the mentally-unhinged. On the other hand, one would think it would be better to have all of these people in one place, so that it would be easier for the police could keep an eye on them there, instead of wasting time prowling every dark nook and cranny in the city and beyond. 

The city apparently prefers a “holistic” approach to the homeless problem—a “collaboration” between various social programs and organizations that cater to the needs of people in misfortune. I took this to mean that Kent preferred to farm-out its homeless problem by persuading entities in other parts of King County to take them. There are some people with good intentions in Kent who want to solve the problem, but it seems to me that most want to avoid making the “hard” choices that make them “uncomfortable,” like a "permanent" presence.

I was also told that there was the local suspicion that Seattle’s recent efforts to clear out homeless camps was having the affect of causing homeless people there to find “alternative” locations, such as in Kent,  which apparently was the primary reason why the Kent police reactivated its anti-homeless people patrols after several years in mothballs. Naturally, this puts these people between the proverbial rock and a hard place. To what extent this is true I don't know, but it does seem to be a prevailing “fear.” With them, come the complaints of trash, human waste, alcohol, drug needles and the like; while accusations of burglary and theft are frequently made,  it seems that there is more hearsay than evidence to suggest that the homeless are responsible for an “epidemic” of such activity. 

Another complaint is “aggressive” panhandling; this is not necessarily a homeless issue, but the homeless are naturally assumed by some to make their “living” in this manner. But I think this accusation is considerably overstated, mainly a sense from people who don’t want to be “put upon” just because they are doing well personally. Another accusation is that wealthy donors to the Mission are not necessarily contributing out of a sense of philanthropy, but out of a cynical desire to keep the shelters operational so that the homeless won’t ever feel the need to wander into their neighborhood. I don’t doubt that this is true to a certain extent; one may recall the scene in Citizen Kane when Kane told his skin-flint former legal guardian that the reason why he “looked after” common people in his newspapers was because if he didn’t, they might eventually turn on people of his “class." On the other hand, personal guilt may also be a strong motivating factor.

One thing that has a powerful impact on the perception of the public on homelessness is the way the city and the media reports on the subject. The Seattle city government released this “study” which basically portrayed the homeless as a menace to society, responsible for the following:
  1. Unsanitary hygiene conditions, including the accumulation of garbage, human and animal feces, and other hazardous materials that threaten the health and safety of campers, other members of the public, and City employees;
  2. Unsanitary hygiene conditions, including the accumulation of garbage, human and animal feces, and other hazardous materials that increase the presence of rodents and other vermin;
  3. Criminal activity, including incidents of violent crime and felony drug tracking, that threaten the health and safety of campers, other members of the public, and City employees;
  4. The presence of used hypodermic needles that threaten the health and safety of campers, other members of the public, and City employees;
  5. The presence of unlawful weapons and other contraband that threaten the health and safety of campers, other members of the public, and City employees;
  6. Destruction or vandalism of public property;
  7. Damage to trees, plants, and other vegetation;
  8. Fires that threaten the health and safety of campers, other members of the public, and City employees, and have damaged public infrastructure and improvements, including overpasses and public rights of way;
  9. A public perception that it is unsafe to enter certain public properties, thereby discouraging the public uses for which the property is intended and maintained;
Structures, garbage accumulation, camping equipment and other obstructions that interfere with the intended uses of the property or with maintenance, repair, or improvements to the property, thereby discouraging the public uses for which the property is intended and maintained.

The local and network media almost uniformly parrot this line, and with the exception of women with or without children, it is through this means that these people are effectively dehumanized. These images of unsightly encampments obscure real stories of privation and tough luck, and unfairly paints a picture that naturally “confirms” this perception of all; but like a painting of an image, is only a facsimile of the truth. 

In the meantime, there continues to be little incentive for developers to build low-income housing, or even abide by local ordinances requiring the building of affordable housing. The Seattle City Council has allowed an “out” for developers by requiring them to pay into an affordable housing and day-care “fund” instead of actually building affordable housing themselves. What the city intends to do with the proceeds of this “fund” appears not to have anything to do with insuring the city actually constructs low-income housing. One independent study suggests that the city is over 3,000 units below its “goal” for the low-income segment, and that even this may be too low an estimate, because of the “moving target” of what qualifies as low-income housing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Yesterday" once more

The life of a human being is short, not even the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of the universe. Even the most famous lives are little more than a split-second burst of light in the deep void of the Cosmos. No matter how arrogant and conceited you are, you end up like even the lowliest microorganism; you can only hope that your life meant something to others. Those who only care about their own gratification leave about as much behind as the drunken vagrant who falls into a river and is never seen again. I not sure what the hell I’m talking about here, except that life being what it is, it is best to make life as tolerable as possible, without regrets or self-consciousness. 

That being said, there are memories that unfortunately retain their cringe-worthiness, that pop-up every now and then for no explicable reason, and you hope that you are the only person who still remembers it. And then there are memories that you think it would be a shame to lose just because they arouse mirth in others. I was looking for a video of some song on the Internet when I came across something else: A YouTube video of the entire (sort of) concert at Budokan by one particular act that I have some reservations about recalling. Budokan is in Japan, and for reasons I don’t know it was a venue that many Seventies’ recording acts thought was essential to have on their resume to perform at.

In this case, it was the Carpenters. I know. Back in the day, millions of people bought their records, but few wanted to admit that they did, then or now. They were one of those “guilty” pleasures. Even in the Seventies’ they were hopelessly retro; “Yesterday Once More” already had them pining for the “old days.” But if you liked music for music’s sake—meaning melodic with lush orchestration—there was probably no other act that gave you both in heavy doses. “Superstar” is probably my favorite Carpenters’ song, because of its faux-drama, while “Rainy Days and Mondays” is OK too. Actually, there are about 20 of their songs that I find myself “liking,” and the snickerers be damned.

I had to come up with a pretty good reason to talk about the Carpenters after all of this time, so I suppose it is worth noting that 31 years ago this month Karen Carpenter died at the age of only 32, from a heart condition brought on by her well–known “addiction” to anorexia. I always thought that Karen looked tall on her television appearances, but she was actually only 5-4. It was her thinness that gave the illusion of height. She sometimes played drums on stage, and pretty well; but she was so small that she practically disappeared behind the drum kit. By the time she reached 30, Karen was so shriveled-up one suspected that she looked more like 60 without make-up. Although she gained thirty pounds through intravenous feeding during a hospital stay not long before her death, the rapid weight gain only further weakened her heart.

Anyways, listening to the Carpenters’ songs is like gorging on sweets, but everyone has their limits. After awhile you start to feel nauseous and sour, and you have go on hiatus from it for awhile, a long while. Karen did attempt to “expand” her musical horizons, recording a self-titled solo album with producer Phil Ramone, best known for his work with Paul Simon and Billy Joel. Her brother happened to be taking a break at the time, to recover from his own drug addiction. I’ve listened to the songs on this album, and frankly I agree with the decision at the time by her brother and the record label not to release it. By the time the decision was made to join the contemporary music scene, that train had already left the station. There are some good songs on it—Rod Temperton’s songs would be the highlights of Michael Jackson’s best album, Off the Wall—but even the catchy “Lovelines” didn’t sound “right” being sung by Karen. These definitely were not Karen songs, let alone Carpenter songs, and not one was top-40 worthy. Karen’s stately contralto was put to best use being run through lugubrious melodies backed by a healthy dose of orchestration, and Richard Carpenter knew that. “Sweet Sweet Smile” was about as adventurous as Karen got vocally on a Carpenters’ record and still not be slightly irritating.

So, no, I’m not embarrassed to say that I “like” the Carpenters and their music (let alone mention it at all). Frankly, I like it a ton better than most of this totally tuneless “music” I hear everywhere on the radio, save for “oldies” stations—even those playing Eighties’ music.

Friday, February 21, 2014

With release of Wells' report, the truth about the Jonathan Martin case can't stay "Incognito"

The 2013 NFL season is over, but that doesn't mean there is no news to report. I have commented a few times on the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito case, in which the latter was accused of systematic abusive language and behavior against the former while they both played for the Miami Dolphins, eventually causing Martin to leave the team. Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins while the NFL conducted an investigation into the affair. While some decried the “need” for the juvenile level of abuse bestowed on younger players by veterans, most NFL commentators sympathized with Incognito, suggesting that Martin had a thin skin and perhaps had maturity issues. Some former players even suggested that Martin was a “snitch” who should have kept the issue “in-house.” 

My own feeling is that the behavior of Incognito—an apparent problem since at least his high school playing days—was reflective of emotional and behavioral immaturity that could be seen as abusive by certain individuals. The Wells’ report gives one the suggestion that an important reason why Martin (who is black) was targeted for excessive abuse by Incognito (who is white) and at least two other offensive line teammates (Mike Pouncey and John Jerry, both black) was not actually because he was a rookie and then a second-year player, but because he did “sissy” things, like read books. One suspects that because in conjunction with Martin’s Stanford education, a few of his teammates likely believed he was trying to put himself on another social “level,” and he needed to be taken down a peg or two and “be like them.”

According to the report, "being like them" meant engaging in coarse and disgusting language, which Martin told his mother and others felt demeaning and uncomfortable. Since his suspension, Incognito has been claiming that he was “friends” with Martin, and that all of his charges are a smear; for his part, Martin claims that the only reason he tried to befriend Incognito—or pretended to—was to stop the persistent harassment; try as he might, it didn’t stop. It also appears that at least one other player and an assistant trainer who is Japanese were also the targets of abusive language, and it was charged that offensive line coach Jim Turner and trainer Kevin O’Neill knew of and even encouraged the abuse; Turner even gave the second player a male "doll" to "play" with. Both have been fired in the wake of the report.

Martin was referred to as the shortened name “Jmart,” but also  “Big Weirdo” because he was “quiet” and seemed to prefer “intellectual” pastimes that Incognito and others found “offensive” and Martin needed to be “broken” from these habits. Here are some excerpts from the Wells’ report that have not appeared in the newscasts; that there is language that is graphic and offensive shouldn't surprise:

When we interviewed him, Martin said he was most offended by persistent vulgar references to members of his family, with whom he is close. According to Martin, these were not harmless one-off “yo mama” jokes, but cutting comments delivered with the intention to demean. The evidence supports a finding that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey repeatedly and persistently made graphic, sexually explicit comments about Martin’s sister, a medical student whom they had never met. Four fairly typical examples of the types of insults made orally, according to Martin, are: 

We are going to run train on your sister. She loves me. I’m going to fuck her without a condom and cum in her cunt.
Hey, Jmart’s sister is in town. Get the plastic sheets ready, she’s a squirter.
I’m going to bang the shit out of her and spit on her and treat her like shit.
Hear your sister has a wolf-puss. A fat, hairy pussy. 

(In his second season with the Dolphins, Martin received this “message” as a “greeting” from Incognito) Hey, wassup, you half-nigger piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I’ll shit in your fuckin’ mouth. I’m gonna slap your fuckin’ mouth, I’m gonna slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fuck you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you. 

Martin was appalled by this message. He said that Incognito had never before called him a “nigger.” And although Martin did not regard statements such as “I’ll kill you” as literal threats, the voicemail further distressed him because he feared that it signaled that the abuse he had endured during his rookie season would continue during his second season. According to Martin, a few weeks later, prior to a dinner at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant, Incognito addressed him in a text message as “shine box,” which Martin felt was a derogatory term, and he responded with a message complaining about Incognito’s “racist shit.” At the dinner, Martin claimed, Incognito made additional offensive racial comments to him (although he said he laughed them off at the time). The comments, Martin said, included jokes about slavery, and he claimed that Incognito called him a “nigger” to his face at the restaurant. Incognito also insulted Martin in person and in text messages with other racially charged language, including referring to Martin as a “liberal mulatto bitch,” “stinky Pakistani,” “shine box” and “darkness.”

In the 2013 season, Incognito began openly, at various times, to refer to Martin in the locker room and on the practice field as “my bitch” or the “O-line’s bitch.” Martin was insulted to be called another player’s bitch, and he believed that Incognito was invoking terminology commonly used in prisons to refer to an inmate who is under the control and protection of a dominant inmate. In one instance, Martin claimed Incognito came to his defense in a fight with a defensive lineman in a scrimmage, but then immediately following the altercation began to say to Martin in a demeaning tone, both on the field and in the locker room, in the presence of other teammates, “you’re my bitch.” 

The “you’re my bitch” comments added to name-calling that had begun in 2012, Martin’s rookie season, when Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey began regularly calling Martin a “cunt,” a “bitch,” a “pussy” and a “faggot.” Martin was not surprised to hear these words used by football players, but believed they were frequently hurled at him with demeaning intent. The evidence shows that these words—at least at times—were spoken to Martin in a cutting tone or with the intent to humiliate him. According to Martin, these types of taunts were a routine part of his life with the Dolphins. 

For the most part, Incognito does not dispute saying or writing any of the statements that Martin claimed offended him. Further, Incognito admitted that at times the very purpose of the verbal taunts was to “get under the skin” of another person. From Incognito’s perspective, however, the statements in question were an accepted part of the everyday camaraderie of the Dolphins tight-knit offensive line. Incognito told us that Martin (and other offensive linemen) all recognized, accepted and, indeed, actively participated in “go-for-the-jugular” teasing, and that vulgarity and graphic sexual comments were not only a staple of their locker-room culture but also helped them bond. In contrast, Jerry downplayed his role in making vulgar comments about Martin’s family, and Pouncey denied making or hearing any such remarks. We do not find Jerry and Pouncey credible on these points, largely because both Martin and Incognito, plus other witnesses, agree that these words were in fact said to Martin.

Ultimately, there is little question that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey persistently made insulting and derogatory comments about Martin and his family members. Nor is there any dispute that Incognito called Martin a “nigger,” his “bitch” or a “stinky Pakistani.” As set forth in the next finding, the evidence shows that Martin was humiliated by these insults and was not a willing participant in the verbal taunting. 

On April 22, 2013, Martin wrote to his mother:
I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me. I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I’m a huge pussy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size. I would never fight back, just get sad & feel like no one wanted to be my friend, when in fact I was just being socially awkward. Most people in that situation are witty & quick with sarcastic replies, I never have been. I’m awkward around people a lot of the time because I simply don’t know how to act around them . . . 

We found that the Assistant Trainer, who was born in Japan, was the target of frequent and persistent harassment, including insults relating to his race and national origin. Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey admitted that they directed racially derogatory words toward him, including “Jap” and “Chinaman.” At times, according to Martin, they referred to the Assistant Trainer as a “dirty communist” or a “North Korean,” made demands such as “give me some water you fucking chink,” spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for “rubby rubby sucky sucky,” and called his mother a “rub and tug masseuse.” Martin and others informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer with jokes about having sex with his girlfriend. Incognito admitted that these types of comments were made to the Assistant Trainer. 

On December 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem (which the Assistant Trainer had given them) and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. According to Martin, the Assistant Trainer confided in him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor comments, finding them derogatory toward his heritage. 

Martin and another player we interviewed both believed that the Assistant Trainer awkwardly laughed along with some of the racial insults, even though he was in fact offended. And both players seemed offended by the flagrant racial harassment of the Assistant Trainer. In a text message sent on November 4, 2013, Martin told a friend: “I always felt so bad for [the Assistant Trainer] . . . it was really racist.” Martin claims that a number of Dolphins employees saw how the Assistant Trainer was humiliated but did not intervene, including his supervisor, head trainer Kevin O’Neill, who allegedly even laughed at some of the racial insults. As far as we know, none of the players, including Martin, confronted Incognito, Jerry or Pouncey about the racist comments directed at the Assistant Trainer or demanded that they cease. 

When interviewed about these matters, the Assistant Trainer initially pleaded that he not be required to answer certain questions, implying that he could not be forthright because he was concerned about losing the trust of the players. The Assistant Trainer further claimed that Incognito was his friend and asserted that Incognito had never offended him. He told us that he could not recall if Incognito had called him a “Chinaman” or a “Jap,” and refused to answer the question whether Incognito had said anything about his girlfriend, saying that the inquiry made him “very uncomfortable.” 

We did not find the Assistant Trainer’s denials believable. Notably, hours after Martin left the team on October 28, the Assistant Trainer sent him a text message indicating that he had indeed been personally offended by the insults directed at him by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey: “Hey JM I understand how [y]ou feel man… They are relentless sometime…. Some day I wanna do exactly what you did today.” (emphasis added and ellipses in original). The ceaseless racial ridicule directed at the Assistant Trainer was appalling and plainly over the line in any workplace.

But the issue of whether Incognito’s ultimate motivation for his persistent harassment of Martin was in part racial animus is complicated by the fact that John Jerry (who is black) and Mike Pouncey (who is bi-racial) often joined Incognito in the abusive behavior. Presumably, they would not have followed Incognito’s lead if they thought he had selected Martin for abuse out of racial animus. It also is significant that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey subjected a number of other linemen to harsh treatment. Most are black, but at least one is white (Nate Garner). Indeed, many players thought Garner was treated the worst. This suggests that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey were equal-opportunity harassers. Further complicating this issue are reports (from both Incognito and Martin) that Jerry and Pouncey on occasion accused Martin of not acting “black enough”—statements that seem to reflect a problematic attitude toward racial identity and socio-economic differences and that reinforce crude racial stereotypes (although they do not seem to demonstrate racial animus). 

Finally, when considering racial animus, certain of Incognito’s text messages that do not relate directly to Martin are relevant to assessing his racial attitudes. Specifically, on December 13, 2012, Incognito and a former Dolphins offensive lineman, who is white, communicated about purchasing guns, apparently for recreational purposes. (We identify this former Dolphin as Player B.) The discussion veered into jokes about shooting black people: 

Player B: Fuck yea! That what I’m doin my .338 in. Badass
Incognito: That’s gonna be sick
Player B: Especially if u plan living in Arizona in the future, that’s exactly what you want
Incognito: Yea. For picking off zombies 32
Player B: Lol isn’t that why we own any weapons!?
Incognito: That and black people
Player B: Mmm def all black ppl
Four days later, Incognito and Player B discussed rifle scopes in text messages.
Player B: Yes. That’s a solid optic made specifically for a .308 battle rifle
Incognito: Perfect for shooting black people
Player B: Lol exactly
Player B: Or Jeff Ireland 

We accept that these messages are nothing more than thoughtless banter, with no underlying malicious intent. But such jokes are nonetheless reprehensible and arguably reflect deep-seated racial hostility.
In sum, while there is no question that Incognito made offensive racial comments to Martin and others, and displayed a troubling insensitivity to racial issues in general, the evidence is sufficiently muddled and conflicting that we decline to make a finding on whether Incognito’s conduct toward Martin, considered in full, was necessarily motivated by racial animus. 

Incognito told us that he and other offensive linemen routinely speculated, albeit in jest, about which of their teammates would “break first” in response to taunting, and notations in the fine book substantiate this. One lineman, Nate Garner, was subjected to so much derision that a joke developed that Garner, who owned several guns, might “break” by coming to the Dolphins facility and shooting everyone. On September 30, 2013, for example, Incognito wrote a text message to a former teammate in which he stated: “Nate is on the verge of killing us all.” When asked to elaborate, Incognito explained: “Since we cut [another player] we have been non stop on nate. Even turner is in on it. He looks like he’s about to cry 24/7.”

Martin traced the onset of what he considered to be verbal harassment to around the first game of the 2012 season, when, according to Martin, John Jerry began to call him a “bitch” repeatedly, in what Martin said was a disrespectful and demeaning tone. Martin reported that at one point, Jerry dared him to “say something back,” and soon after he did not, the insults escalated, with Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey routinely calling him a “bitch” as well as a “faggot,” a “cunt” and a “pussy.” Martin said that, in keeping with his reserved nature, he generally was reluctant to respond aggressively to the name-calling, and he believes that his failure to respond encouraged his teammates to intensify their verbal attacks. 
Martin acknowledged that profanity is often thrown around casually by college and professional football players. He said he was not surprised or bothered to hear vulgar words directed at him from time to time. In his view, however, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey repeatedly and frequently hurled profanity at him, and not in a joking manner, but in a demeaning tone, a view the evidence supports.

At some point early in the 2012 season, in September or October, Martin mentioned his sister in a conversation with other offensive linemen. Martin’s sister is a medical student; none of the linemen has met her in person.
According to Martin, after learning that he had a sister, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey started making repeated graphic sexual remarks about her. Typical insults, Martin reported, were along the lines of the following statements:
We are going to run train on your sister. She loves me. I’m going to fuck her without a condom and cum in her cunt.
Hey, Jmart’s sister is in town. Get the plastic sheets ready, she’s a squirter.
I’m going to bang the shit out of her and spit on her and treat her like shit.
Hear your sister has a wolf-puss. A fat, hairy pussy. 

Martin informed us that his initial reaction to these insults was to object, saying things like, “stop it – that’s disgusting,” or “that’s gross,” but that these tepid responses merely emboldened Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey. On occasion, by Martin’s account, he responded by saying, “fuck you,” to which a teammate might respond, “I’m still going to fuck your sister.” Once, upon hearing vulgar comments about his sister while waiting for an offensive unit meeting to begin, he says that he threatened “to start swinging in 30 seconds” if the comments did not stop, but his threat was not taken seriously, and the comments stopped only because coaches arrived and the meeting began. Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey said they did not recall hearing Martin issue this challenge, but another player recalled that on several occasions Martin told them to stop and threatened to start swinging.

Martin also recalled that the comments about his sister were sometimes accompanied by obscene physical gestures. For example, he claimed that on the practice field, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey would call his sister a “squirter” and then squirt water onto the field from their water bottles, and that while engaged in certain warm-up stretching exercises, they would simulate having sex with his sister. Incognito confirmed these allegations. 

Although the vulgar comments about Martin’s sister were most often made orally, a few appear in text messages we reviewed. For example, on September 14, 2013, the following text message exchange took place among members of the offensive line: 

Incognito: J mart. Ur such a fucking nerd. THAT’S A FINE

Pouncey: He’s salty about his fines!

Incognito: I would be too if I smelled like a camels dick

Pouncey: Lol

Jerry: Bap Bap

Martin: You know what a camel dick smells like?

Pouncey: Lol sensitivity fine!
Incognito: No Ur mother told me in vivid detail tho
Pouncey: Lmao!
Clabo: Mom jokes!
Incognito: Bap bap
Jerry: Chill Bro Chill!!!!!!
Incognito: I flew jmarts sister into Indy. My dick is dry and needs some of her healing squirt juices
Jerry: Wow I want in 

Pouncey: I will pay

Martin: Ohh SICK BURN you guys are so original. . . Not

Clabo: I just wanna watch

[photo omitted]

Pouncey: Lol we are going to fuck u up

[photo omitted]

Incognito: Caught red handed

Pouncey: Clabo you’re a perv

[photo omitted]
Incognito: Clabo can watch We need someone to videotape
Martin said that he had hoped that his teammates would stop insulting him during his second year, as he was no longer a rookie. But, as the 2013 season began, he contends, the vulgar and demeaning comments showed no sign of letting up, and in fact got worse in three respects.

Martin related that one day when he showed up to practice one day without showering, Incognito began calling him a “smelly,” “dirty” or “stinky” “Pakistani.” Martin said that Incognito’s teasing about body odor continued, even when he was wearing heavy deodorant, and that it bothered him significantly, particularly because it had a racial element.

Incognito interpreted the incident on the practice field in precisely the opposite way, citing it as an example of how he cared and looked out for Martin. Incognito did not deny calling Martin his “bitch” or a “stinky Pakistani,” but claimed, about such language generally, that this was good-natured fun that Martin understood and accepted as such.

After Martin left the team,

Incognito exchanged the following text messages with Pouncey:

Incognito: Fuck Jmart That faggot is never [allowed] back

Pouncey: Bro I said the same thing I can’t even look at him the same he’s a pussy

Incognito: My agent just asked if we held mandatory strip club meetings Jmart is fucking ratting on everyone

Pouncey: Lol wow are you serious he is a fuck boy

Pouncey: He’s not welcome back bro I can’t be around that fucking guy
Incognito: Fuck that guy if Ur not with [u]s Ur against us
Pouncey: No question bro he’s a coward for snitching
Incognito: Snitches get stitches Blood in blood out Fucking guy
Pouncey: He’s dead to me

Over the next couple of days, Incognito sent the following text messages to Martin:
Incognito: I need you buddy I’m getting killed in the media.
Incognito: Bro can we talk? The dolphins are talking about releasing me
Martin did not respond to these text messages, and we understand that he has not had any further communication with Incognito.

It would appear that the verbiage and actions of Incognito were inspired not by an effort "toughen-up" Martin, but from a deep well of self-consciousness and his own insecurity. His past was that of a personality that could not control asocial impulses (he was once voted the "dirtiest" player in the NFL), and such incidents dated back to his high school and college days--so much so that he was expelled from the University of Nebraska, and lasted all of one week at the University of Oregon before he was kicked off the Ducks' roster. Martin was as different as could be: He is a Stanford grad who studied classical history, and many members of his family are graduates of Harvard. It is clear that the language used by Incognito (as well as Jerry and Pouncey, who obviously identified with his point of view) was purposely meant to demean Martin and bring him down to his "level." It is not surprising that Martin--who was "quiet" and "introspective," was the type who would take this as a personal affront.

I was reading Jerry Kramer's diary on the Green Bay Packers' 1967 season, Instant Replay, and Kramer noted that Vince Lombardi--himself conscious of his Italian heritage and short, stout stature--would never tolerate any such personally offensive and demeaning behavior, even to rookies. That is something that Miami coach Joe Philbin--who allowed all of this to happen despite his pleading of ignorance--never learned during his stay in Green Bay.