It’s only a local story now, but I don’t want to let another day pass without noting that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Nancy Kerrigan knee-whacking by agents of fellow figure skater Tonya Harding. It happened in Detroit. (Natch!) The national championships were at Cobo Hall that year, prior to the Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Just to recap:
I know it’s uncharitable of me, but in the fullness of time, I’ve come to terms with my dislike of Nancy Kerrigan. Not that I was on Team Tonya or anything, but Kerrigan, with her sense of regal entitlement, just chapped my ass. A beautiful girl, a fine skater, but her snitty display after she missed winning the gold medal to that pixie in pink fluff, Oksana Baiul, sealed the deal. “I was flawless,” she pouted, perhaps the original #firstworldproblems complaint.
(May I just pause for a moment and demand that you click the Oksana Baiul link and watch the ENTIRE slider? You must. We’ll wait.)
Granted, by her biography, Kerrigan seems a straight shooter. She’s been married to her agent for years, has three children, works for charity, pays her taxes. And to be sure, being kneecapped and subsequently under a relentless spotlight could push anyone off the rails, and she stayed on them. Harding, on the other hand, never even came close to fulfilling the promise that made her a serious threat to toothy Nancy. Her gold skates always reminded me of the gold trim packages that were popular on cars around the same time — very big-pimpin’ ghetto fabulous.
But I’ll admit to being blindsided by her popularity with working-class people. My friend Deb once overheard a couple of women from the Harding demographic expressing great admiration for the scrappy triple-axel jumper, adding, “I cannot STAND that Kristi Yamaguchi.” People who’ve been screwed over tend to remember who did the screwing, and many of them looked like the ethereal, unflappable ice queens we watch every four years. When Harding asked for a do-over during her long program I knew she was toast; the Kristis and Nancys of the world don’t break their laces in competition.
Years later, Harding would be arrested — what a surprise — for assaulting her husband with a hubcap. Alan and I were in the car when this news was reported, and the DJ puzzled aloud for some time about the strangeness of the weapon. A hubcap? Really? Finally, Alan snapped at the radio: IT WAS AN ASHTRAY, YOU IDIOT. Indeed.
So. The polar vortex is still howling outside, and Kate has a second day off school, nearly unprecedented here. If you do, too, here’s some bloggage:
First, a story that may be of interest to Jeff the mild-mannered, from Bridge, about a growing pushback to zero-tolerance disciplinary policies in public schools. It includes this nod to mediation, i.e., “restorative justice:”
Under this approach, a trained mediator convenes a group that includes the offending student, the teacher, those harmed in the incident and the parents or siblings of the student. The idea is to encourage students to accept responsibility for their actions and learn from the experience.
“Kids have to come face-to-face with the people they harmed. This is aligned with conventional discipline,” he said.
Sower said it has proven to reduce suspensions and expulsions, but is only being used in a handful of Michigan districts.
It’s a good story, as is the sidebar, about a kid caught in this Kafkaesque whirl.
More sneer worthy is this piece from the Atlantic, where former GOP strategist Frank Luntz calmly measures out the rope and then hangs himself. He’s depressed, see, and has been since the 2012 election:
It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him. They were contentious and argumentative. They didn’t listen to each other as they once had. They weren’t interested in hearing other points of view. They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor.
…Luntz knew that he, a maker of political messages and attacks and advertisements, had helped create this negativity, and it haunted him. But it was Obama he principally blamed. The people in his focus groups, he perceived, had absorbed the president’s message of class divisions, haves and have-nots, of redistribution. It was a message Luntz believed to be profoundly wrong, but one so powerful he had no slogans, no arguments with which to beat it back. In reelecting Obama, the people had spoken. And the people, he believed, were wrong. Having spent his career telling politicians what the people wanted to hear, Luntz now believed the people had been corrupted and were beyond saving. Obama had ruined the electorate, set them at each other’s throats, and there was no way to turn back.
Luntz is dealing with his depression by moving to Las Vegas, where he expects to be “intellectually challenged” again. I just sprained my eyeballs.
With that, I guess we’re back in the groove. Happy Tuesday, all, and let’s get this new year rolling.