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Hog Calls

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE -- Consider the twittered idiocies recorded forever on the Internet and perhaps in 20 to 25 years our public offices will be nearly vacant.

Most everyone of current college age might be too afraid to run for anything but cover for fear of a twittered stupidity or Facebook folly coming back to haunt them.

The "Gotcha" game seems long to have replaced baseball as our national pastime. It will mushroom with stupid statements past so available for dredging upon Internet review.

This comes to mind with the University of Arkansas' men's basketball program ending last week seemingly under about as much scrutiny for a player's twittered tastelessness as it is for three players earlier under suspicion of rape allegations.

Citing lack of evidence and lack of supportive witnesses, Washington County prosecutors opted not to file charges regarding an Aug. 27 incident at a fraternity house.

Nevertheless, first UA athletics director Jeff Long and then head basketball coach John Pelphrey said, as they should, that the athletic department is reviewing the incident and will "take appropriate action when the review is complete."

Meanwhile, sophomore point guard Courtney Fortson, a player not included in the police report of the Aug. 27 incident, twittered himself into trouble. Last Monday, two days before the report of the incident was made public, Fortson's post on Twitter.com read, "Im (sic) gettin it at workouts like a dude who doesn't understand the word no from a drunk girl lol."

The UA athletics department has in place, UA associate athletics director for media relations Kevin Trainor has said in reference to Jeff Long's statement, provisions about student-athletes crossing the lines of decorum on social networks.

Fortson deserves a stern earful from department staff about decorum, sensitivity and most of all, his comment's despicable, disregard for a human being.

Beyond that, though, there wouldn't seem a whole lot more the UA could do without bringing out attorneys from the ACLU and other free speech advocates.

They likely would emerge in droves and should under those circumstances.

Aside from shouting fire in a crowded theater or uttering pure slander or threats of bodily harm, there's not much in the Land of the Free we should not be allowed to say.

The right to express idiocies not only is a right but a rite.

Most of us in our college age blunder years, whether actually in college or not, say things we regret and learned better with time not to say or, more importantly, even believe.

But when those of older than current college age said them back then, it was usually in a bar, or a student union, or dorm, or some other setting among friends.

It wasn't posted for posterity on the Internet like our increasingly narcissistic society seems compelled to do now.

Fortson's fallout was just one among many bewildering offshoots.

A Washington County prosecutor went on a sports talk radio show last Wednesday afternoon.

Eyebrow raising in its own right when it comes to decorum, particularly with the woman's attorney strongly hinting this may not be the last of this case.

Then there's the judgment lapse by Pelphrey himself.

Seldom available for a one-on-one with any Arkansas media and unavailable to all Arkansas media this past week as all statements came Wednesday from Jeff Long, Pelphrey hastily had to cobble a statement last Thursday evening.

The coach avoided the locals but answered the call of ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

Katz quoted Pelphrey Thursday on ESPN.com saying, "There was a lot of damage control, communicating to a lot of people about the information. It's been a very, very unfortunate situation. We're trying to get to a number of spots (in recruiting) and we're trying to communicate."

So the UA quickly had to do its own version of damage control.

A Pelphrey statement, basically reiterating what Long said Wednesday, was hastily issued last Thursday evening.

Perhaps the coach learned a lesson regarding telling national media one thing and simultaneously not telling Arkansas media anything.

As for Fortson's flaw, just add it to the arsenal cited by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Meredith Oakley in her well thought out piece last Wednesday stressing social networking dangers involving identity theft and fraud.

When it comes to communicating, perhaps we'd all be the wiser to do less with the computer and more with the

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