Wed, May 23, 2018 11:13 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
The Point After
Controversy hurting event, sport
It would appear that denial is in vogue these days. If anything seems obvious and damaging, just follow the three basic rules of a good government spokesperson: 1) deny; 2) if No. 1 fails, obfuscate, then deny; 3) if Nos. 1 and 2 fail, rail, then deny a third time. Hey, if it was good enough for St. Peter...

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (aka Baghdad Bob) for days stood around with bombs raining down and the thud of artillery shells landing and the crackle of machine gun fire and told Iraqis and the world at large that those sounds were symptomatic of the defeat of the infidels. Deny, deny, deny.

Of course, much of the world saw him as nothing more than a stuffed parrot sitting on the shoulder of a dying despot squawking in order to ensure there would not be dose of anthrax on top of Polly's next cracker.

* * *

In a much more trivial matter, but one which will gain momentum and attention, is Hootie Johnson's dogged defense of an increasingly besieged Augusta National Golf Club, site of the revered Masters Tournament.

Johnson held a press conference today while Martha Burk was busy raining bombs of negative publicity on Augusta National. He said that the club was "maligned, but not damaged" by the controversy stirred by Burk's insistence that a woman be admitted to the membership of the club.

Like Baghdad Bob, Hootie has pulled out a driver on a par three and is simply going to swing away, prudent or not. He will deny, deny, deny, even to the detriment of the club he loves.

The controversy is going to hurt the event and the club. This will not go away, no matter how much Johnson denies the obvious.

There is something to be said for activities that allow men to retreat to their caves and huddle around in some sort of primal grouping. It is that ability of men to be men and women to be women, separately that Johnson thinks he is defending.

But in reality, he is simply striking a nerve in a public that is increasingly intolerant of exclusion on whatever grounds.

Allowing a woman to become a member would not diminish Augusta National. What principle would be tarnished? One that says it is okay to exclude people from prominent and desirable places or organizations under a cloak of "privacy" simply because of their gender?

So, having Nancy Lopez as a member would debase the luster of this hallowed slice of fairway and green?

What if that extension is made to race? What if that extension is made to some other trait? Would Hootie deny then?

The Augusta National Club should do itself a favor, can Hootie Johnson and proceed to downplay the issue while quietly negotiating the membership of a woman. If they don't accede to the demands of openness, then they will only be purchasing themselves an ongoing and further damaging controversy. If they keep Hootie out front and in control, they'll be made a laughable cartoon in the process.

If they don't, then while Ms. Burk leads a march to the Georgia lowlands similar to that of Sherman's, they will simply have to trot out their lampoon-worthy emcee so he can continue to deny, deny, deny.

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