be in the minority, but I think that this week Tiger Woods has become
more of a role model than ever before. By not talking to the media or
anyone else about whatever happened at the perimeter of his front yard,
Woods reminds us that at times the most appropriate answer to a
question is “none of your business.” It is way past time for a return
to some sort of line between the public and the private.
We already know too much about Tiger
Woods’ little double bogey. There’s a busted fire hydrant, a damaged
tree, a foxy wife with a golf club and a smashed-up car missing a few
windows. It’s a formula the cable maniacs can’t get enough. It’s O.J.’s
slow-motion car chase, Michael Jackson’s corpse being slid into the
ambulance, the countless stakeouts at countless venues played out
between commercial breaks that America’s eyes have been glued to for
Tiger in the trap: Tiger Woods gave the crowd some drama when he encountered a sand trap at Atunyote Golf Course in August. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
The legal shows, the sports shows, even
those that claim to be news shows, just keep flashing the same images
and inviting the same talking heads to speculate endlessly about the
meaning of the few pieces of information they can get their hands on.
I say we’ve already heard too much. The
cable clowns seem incapable of distinguishing between genuine news and
something that just happens to have happened in the vicinity of someone
famous. I hope that Tiger never mentions what happened that night.
Ever. His silence reminds us that you have the right, in this country,
to remain silent, and that in many cases, we would be better off if
that right were exercised more liberally. He is under no obligation to
give an interview to the police. He is under no obligation to talk to
Judge Judy or Keith Olbermann or anyone else.
Tiger Woods is a golfer, probably the best one ever born. Turns out he’s better with a
driver in his hand than sitting in the driver’s seat. Yeah, it was 2
a.m.; yeah, the papers say he has a girlfriend, blah blah blah. We
should care about him as a golfer, and leave him and his family to sort
out the rest. We have the right to ask him about his golfing.
Remember, Tiger, that you have the right
to ignore the spin-meisters, the overmatched legal minds, the judges,
juries and executioners waiting to take you down for no reason at all
other than that they can. Tiger Woods didn’t shoot anyone in the face,
like Dick Cheney. Didn’t shoot himself in the leg like Plaxico Burress.
Didn’t even get charged with murder like O.J. Simpson. There’s no crime
here, no charges filed, nobody hurt except the golfer himself, and his
Just leave it alone. Turn your head
away. Get some perspective. We need to stop confusing being informed
citizens with just being peeping toms. This has gone on at least since
the Clinton years, and it is no trivial thing. A nation that can’t
distinguish what’s really important from what’s just titillating might
soon find itself unable to confront real dangers.
The Monica Lewinsky scandal was to the
private lives of public figures what the Hubble telescope has been to
the far regions of the universe. Bill Clinton’s most serious mistake
wasn’t offering Monica a cigar; it was in answering questions about the
affair in the first place. Had the president simply said “next
question” we might have not wasted the last half of the 1990s dithering
about who the president was diddling.
(Note to the fame wanna-bes: If you are
considering sneaking into a state dinner at the White House or sending
your kid aloft in a helium balloon just to enter the ranks of the
famous, please consider the fact that you might succeed, and then you
may no longer be able to drive your oversized car recklessly on your
own lawn without the whole world finding out about it.)
Is it any wonder that our kids have
difficulty separating achievement from notoriety? With all the
unjustified frenzy, Woods has dropped out of his own charity tournament
and says he won’t play golf for the rest of the year. That’s a loss for
all of us, whether we follow golf or not.
Last August Tiger came to town to play
in the Notah Begay III charity tournament at Atunyote Golf Course at
the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. Maybe we can entice him to come
back. Central New York could start a national trend here. Let’s make a
pledge that if he comes, we won’t ask him about his car wreck. We’ll
ask him about his golf, and let him keep his private life private. We
have more important things to worry about.