CONTEXT: On February 5, 2011, David Shields and I spoofed jocks in The Nervous Breakdown. Less than two months later I wrote an article at TNB about a dubious competition run by a Seattle sports radio station, KJR. Then I sent a link of the article to KJR, and they responded. This is the next chapter: 

According to Forbes Magazine, Seattle is the most miserable sports town in the United States. As a Northwest native and long suffering fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and the now departed Sonics, I cannot disagree.  Our bad teams are complemented by Seattle sportscasters with Moobs (Manboobs) and Seattle whiner-fans griping about East Coast Bias. Yet I never have minded being the underdog. Unfortunately, the Seattle sports scene has deeper problems. As a father of three daughters, and a lifelong sports junkie, I’m having a mid-life crisis.

THE JOSH LUEKE “RAPE”: In May of 2008 two baseball players on a Texas Rangers farm team met a woman at a bar and took her home. The woman, unidentified, promptly threw up and passed out in their apartment.  She woke partially clothed and physically violated, and went to the authorities. The results: DNA from her jeans, tank top, hair, and semen on an anal swab matched one of the athletes, Josh Lueke. He was arrested, charged with rape, but eventually pleaded guilty of a lesser felony, the obscure False imprisonment with violence. He emerged relatively unscathed, his career intact.

Last summer the Seattle Mariners traded for Lueke, and he is now on the big league club. His presence makes the transgressions of other Mariners tame (one has battled domestic violence accusations and another shoved last year’s manager). I’ve had it. This year I will not listen or watch Mariners games, and if the team does not get rid of the scum, I will not watch next year or ever. Our family will now enjoy baseball games played by the Everett AquaSox.

THE MORAL PLACEBO: Okay, I’m boycotting the Mariners. So friggin’ what? Sex crimes happen across the spectrum of society. Every city has their scandal. Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisber has similar trouble, but this just gives me one more reason to hate the Steelers. It’s true there are two sides. Gold diggers like Karen Sypher, who was sentenced to 7+ years for extortion after an affair with Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, are an element, but her egregious actions in no ways justify a defense of the creeps.

So what’s a moral placebo? A “moral placebo” is when an individual makes a pledge or action on ethical grounds, yet the main beneficiary is the individual: he or she feels better about him or herself. Examples: Swearing not to drive an SUV; praying really, really hard for the well-being of starving children in underdeveloped countries; or boasting about how your eight million-dollar mansion “saves” energy because it has solar panels, even though you consume twenty times more energy than the average citizen. Yes. Words and action have a relationship (perhaps the person praying will actually send money or volunteer), but without action these stands are useless. Call me cynical, but brandishing a candle against the proverbial darkness often comes off as bullshit.

Nevertheless, I brandish, I spout, and thus I’d like to add a few words about my other “moral placebo,” a boycott of KJR Sports 950 and their sponsors. My previous TNB post took on KJR’s Mitch “Dork in the Morning” Levy and The Bigger Dance. I sent a post of this article to KJR, and soon after a few members of the KJR Society for the Legalization of Date-Rape responded. One KJR DJ took the time to engage me and defend his right to objectify women.

EXCHANGE BETWEEN KJR DJ & MYSELF:

Caleb Powell: KJR supporters have revealed themselves in the “Comments” section.

KJR DJ: Wow. Nice to see such an intellect using the proper narrow brush.

(He pasted from my interview with David Shields)

Powell: Angelina Jolie or Katherine Zeta-Jones?

Shields: Uhhhh…Angelina Jolie or hmmm…I would say Katherine Zeta-Jones.

Powell: Beyoncé or Britney?

Shields: Uh…I must admit…Britney.

I think it’s the consistency in your point of view that I find so refreshing. By the way it’s “Catherine” with a C.

CP: It’s a Spoof on Barkley. Thanks for the ‘C’ tip. Didn’t you notice the intro: “Using questions often directed at jocks, specifically Charles Barkley, we did a quick Q&A…”

KJR DJ: Ohhhhhh. I see. When YOU do it it’s a spoof. Got it.

CP: Didn’t know the Dance was a spoof.

KJR DJ: So you think we take it seriously? Honestly…it seems wildly hypocritical of you to ask David Shields what you asked him and then trash us and our listeners for what is in fact a harmless little contest. Then you play your deal off as a spoof but still want to take ours seriously.

If you don’t like the contest then there’s an easy way to deal with it. Don’t pay attention to it. But don’t demand that every other person has to see things your way…or that one or two people who respond to your post are suddenly representative of the entire listening audience of KJR.

CP: Representative? Even one KJR fan thinking like that should make you worry. “Wildly hypocritical?” That’s hyperbole. My piece with Shields ridiculed the “dumb jock.” “Harmless little contest?” Bullshit. You and KJR take it seriously. The contest is not a spoof, it’s a cash cow for KJR; sure, to you it’s fun and for the most part harmless, but it objectifies women. That’s a problem. Men that objectify women are more likely to be violent. There is a direct correlation, the evidence is there, and yes, I’m giving you a conclusion, but the studies behind it are complex and cogent.

And even though, for the most part it’s harmless and most guys that get off on the Dance are okay, enough of them are “date-rapes waiting to happen.” Those comments here at The Nervous Breakdown are frightening, aren’t they? You want those guys dating someone you care about? Hey, I don’t know if you have a daughter or a sister, but would you want any woman to have to deal with men that think objectifying women is “harmless?” It’s not.

KJR DJ: And it’s pretty damned convienient that YOU do this and claim you were just ridiculing the dumb jock. But we’re doing it and we’re equated to rapers (sic) and murderers. THAT my friend is bullshit. Tell yourself anything you want.

CP: You’re not rapists, but rapists feed off your schtick.

KJR DJ: But no rapist read your interview with David, right?

CP: What? Another non-sequitor?

That’s it. KJR DJ at least thought about the issues, yet his argument was hampered by a rudimentary use of rhetorical modifiers and his inability to understand irony. He chose to remain anonymous. I don’t listen to KJR, and though I’m boycotting their sponsors, like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, big deal, I never drank it, anyway.

Yet maybe I’m wrong. Maybe beliefs and stands matter. My wife backs me, our oldest daughter plays T-ball, and I’ve discovered other parents agree. Seattle Mariner attendance is down, and a young struggling team is not the only reason. The lit candle might not be a mere platitude. Our views influence how we raise our children and treat our peers. They’re not just token moral placebos.

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CALEB POWELL's argument with David Shields about art and life, I Think You're Totally Wrong, is forthcoming from Knopf in 2015. He blogs at Arguments Worth Having and Notes of a Sexist Stay-at-home Father.

16 responses to “The Josh Lueke “Rape,” the Moral Placebo, and the Sad Seattle Sports Scene”

  1. mutterhals says:

    Unfortunately, I have to disagree. This guy seems like a real scumbag, and wacky morning zoo types are beneath my contempt, but I can’t correlate real life crimes with things in the media.

    People who commit rape are criminally insane and you really have no control over how they’ll react to anything. I don’t necessarily think Judas Priest can drive someone to kill, and I don’t think these assholes and their stupid publicity stunts have any bearing on real crimes. But this is a very interesting topic and thank you for giving me something to think about.

    • Gloria says:

      Interesting post, Caleb. And, like, Sheree, I have to go with what Mutterhals says here.

      Cheers,
      Gloria

      • Caleb Powell says:

        Gloria,

        Gotcha, I agree too…sigh. I’d be delusional to think it matters, and thus it’s a moral placebo, and though I don’t feel great, I probably feel a little better venting. Since my rant I’ve discovered this…

        In the Sunday Seattle Times a woman wrote in to say she was a diehard fan and would not be attending because of Josh Lueke (4th letter): Lisa Smith letter (Men should feel the same as her)

        Even though the Mariners were a horrible team last year, they are taking a big hit in attendance: Mariners attendance down 23%

        And the Seattle Times did raise questions back in September. Geoff Baker article: Lawyer for Josh Lueke

        Hopefully the Times will write not let the issue die.

  2. sheree says:

    Great post. Looking forward to reading future posts.
    Mutterhals comment pretty much summed it for me.
    Cheers!

  3. sheree says:

    Great post. Looking forward to reading future posts.
    Mutterhals comment pretty much summed it up for me.
    Cheers!

  4. Mine is the site you libeled by linking it to this statement: “a few members of the KJR Society for the Legalization of Date-Rape responded . . . .” We have nothing to do with the KJR dialogue you cited. Here is what we actually wrote: http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/2011/02/josh-lueke-sex-crime-affair-seattle.html

    We loathe rape, and many rape victims are allied with us. Our site neither condones rape nor rapists. We give voice to persons wrongly charged with sex crimes (e.g., the Hofstra and Duke lacrosse falsey accused). Every objective study ever conducted on this subject reveals that false rape claims are a significant problem. But despite the grievous harm often suffered by the falsely accused, their unique needs are rarely acknowledged, much less addressed. For example, as a society, we permit the reputations of persons falsely accused of sex crimes to be destroyed by even baseless accusations of a lone accuser; we permit the presumptively innocent, who too often turn out to be falsely accused, to be arrested and jailed on even far-fetched claims, with bail set sufficiently high to insure they won’t be released before trial (generally young black are most frequently victimized by this de facto policy); and we excuse false accusers with little or no punishment, inviting others to falsely accuse with impunity and without deterrent.

    But thanks for the libel.

  5. Caleb Powell says:

    Pierce,

    I’d be pissed, too, if I were compared to KJR. I linked you because I read your defense of Josh Lueke, not despite of it. You may have a worthy cause, but if you’re going to include Lueke why don’t you include OJ? Lueke is a felon, he plead guilty, he’s not innocent, read the reports. This is what you wrote: “The young man made a mistake that cannot be condoned, but he served his time, and his probation is about to end…Pitts got a second chance. Why doesn’t Josh Lueke deserve one?” Bullshit! The whole article/defense of Lueke is crap. Your connection to Joe Jackson or Pitts is irreverent and irrelevant. As long as you feel this you deserve excoriation.

    Lueke was convicted of ‘False Imprisonment with violence,’ the DNA in his semen was found all over the woman, maybe there are mitigating circumstances, but then why did he plead guilty? The dude should be happy he’s a free man, but if he’s on my team, then my team ain’t my team.

    Also, my post added Rick Pitino specifically to point out the other side. The side exists, yeah, but if you’re defending the Lueke’s of the world, then it ain’t libel, and it weakens you whole cause.

    (Thanks Mutterhals & Sheree…yeah, there are way more egregious things happening than KJR’s Dance, but it bugs me.)

  6. We have a word in the legal community for puerile rants such as yours: “horseshit.” Your understanding of these issues lies somewhere between nursery school and nonexistent.

    No one said Lueke didn’t commit a crime. Your inane blather seems to suggest that I said he’s innocent. Like Pitts, he served his time. Pitts’ crime was, by any measure, more serious. What’s the issue, professor? Ah, I know. You want to castrate this young man because you need to show the world what a zero-tolerance chivalrous idiot you are. It’s not about him. It’s about you, and what a vapid blowhard you are.

  7. Mike Gastineau says:

    Caleb,

    Since I, in fact, signed EVERY email I sent to you in the exchange, and set it from an address “[email protected]”, I’m a little confused why you would report that the KJR DJ “chose to remain anonymous”.

    It’s a lot easier to make your points when YOU decide what’s fact and what’s fiction. How about printing the truth. That at NO POINT during our exchange did I request anonymity.

    You make not agree with my points but to paint me as some pussy who wanted to hide behind anonymity is 100% false and another great example of why so much of the blogosphere is difficult to take seriously.

    Gas aka Mike Gastineau aka afternoons at KJR for 20 years aka [email protected].

    • Caleb Powell says:

      I asked you, in my last Email, in the subject line: “Mike Gastineau or Anonymous KJR DJ?” Your reply was: “You win. I should have known it was futile to…” You did not give me permission to use your name, and by failing to address this I took it how I took it. Yes, you signed your name in our personal correspondence, but w/o that permission I call you “anonymous.”

      In our Emails, just like this, you harp on very perpendicular points that have little to do with the substance of what I have said. I’ve been to the point. So I called you anonymous? Who cares? What does that have to do with “truth”?

      Example: You kept reminding me about Shields w/o mentioning the fact I qualified and set it up, which is relevant. Now you misuse “truth”…as it has something to do with whether or not you chose to remain anonymous. Printing the truth? I messed with the letter of our exchange, but in no ways did I change the spirit. My rant is an opinion, and more worthy of The Onion than a real newspaper, it’s not hardcore journalism. Still, everything I’ve written pertaining to facts are, in fact, factual…and that’s a fact.

  8. [email protected], just read what this person said about my site — we want to legalize “date rape” merely because we said the guy committed a crime, served his time, and deserves a second chance. We are women-hating monsters because we don’t want to take a hacksaw to his jock.

    Wow!

  9. Greg Olear says:

    Cleveland is the worst sports town. The Seahawks are usually pretty good, and although the Sonics were taken away in a particularly odious manner, they were great for years. Also, if you take away the sports teams, Seattle is still Seattle, and Cleveland is…Cleveland.

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