(UPDATED: See below)
With Leather, which I have linked to and, I have decided after much turbulent thought, will continue to link to, is a fun little place. Matthew Ufford, aka Captain Caveman, aka yet another hot young writer in New York waiting for a breakthrough he probably more-or-less deserves, is a funny guy, with a great eye for guy-funny stuff like football and chicks you'd probably like to fuck. He's demonstrated this time and again at KSK (the most important blog in the world) and at Leather, his very own blog, which someone is apparently paying him to write. Great work if you can get it and stand it, and all the love in the world to him. You go, booyee.
Sometimes Ufford and the other guys at KSK skate over collections of points that some people might consider lines (Will Leitch, at Deadspin, doesn't, because he's a paid employee of Gawker and would sure hate to have to go get a job because he stood up and screamed "I Am Spartacus!" and it's hard to hold that against him). I am of the opinion that this shouldn't be a problem. In fact, until today, every time that they've done so, I've laughed my ass off at people in their comments sections who have, in my view, taken things a bit too seriously. And truly? The stuff perceived as over the line has been so ephemeral I don't even remember it, although I think some people got sticks up their butts over a Challenger joke. I mean, I'll punch out any of my friends who makes a Len Bias joke, but coming from strangers? Internet strangers without candy? Meh. Fuck it. I can accept the premise that this might be funny to people in the world at large with senses of humor philosophically similar to mine, who don't happen to carry around giant throbbing boners for the University of Maryland.
One of the reasons the boys at KSK (and Leitch, if he weren't a pussy) get away with this is that they generally don't do politics. I admire their restraint. What I think I actually admire is their focus; I'm incapable of anything but putting everything in a shaker and working it over until memes and jokes and rage just splice and collide and pour out nice and cold into a little glass of sophomoric bile or pee or, maybe sometimes, whoopee cushions, depending on what direction the meds are taking me today. Not so Ufford and the others at KSK. They stay on point. Usually.
I can't imagine that's easy; they're all bright guys and have opinions like everyone else. Ufford, as I understand it, is an ex-Marine, a recent one, who did time in Iraq. That's got to lead to a point of view, especially for someone as articulate as he is. But I've read a lot of words that Matthew Ufford has written, and I haven't a fucking clue what point of view he holds on that issue, which issue I think we can all agree is pretty fucking compelling and tends to lead people to a certain willingness to express themselves. That, friends, is focus. And restraint, a quality sometimes urged upon this blog even by the very closest of its friends (fuck you, Purple).
So I've never once (seriously) chided anyone from this band of writers for anything they've written, and I have jumped in to chide others for taking them to task for jokes that weren't funny to everybody. And that's why I'm not taking on this one in the comments section of Leather, which today tells me that Amani Toomer's soon-to-be ex-wife is a bad person because Toomer alleges that she's had some number of abortions. I am presuming that Matthew Ufford wrote this, because it's not tagged with anything to indicate that it was penned by his assistant editor, some guy from Chicago whose name escapes me at the moment (and which I cheerfully admit that I'm too lazy to look up).
It's a little difficult to know where to begin, so I guess I'd best fall back on full disclosure: As you know, I fucking hate the New York Giants. As you know, unless you're my friend TJ, Amani Toomer is a fucking douchebag. And as you know, I am a strong supporter of reproductive freedom, and an opponent of the war on fucking.
Here's the factual place we might should start: the source for the story is Page Six. The chance that there is anything factual in this story beyond the correct spelling of Toomer's name, the general location of the story as a product of the New York metropolitan area and, possibly, the name of Toomer's wife, is slim. At best. It is possible that this could act to mitigate my anger at Ufford for running with this item the way he has; he likely knows damn well that the story is likely fairly sloppy, and he may well be poking fun at the story from that perspective--and that I'm not willing to credit that so much because he's cracking wise about this woman who may or may not have had some number of abortions.
The meat of the story seems pretty ritualistic; Toomer, a douchebag, complains that his wife, a blonde, reneged on a pact to bear him many children, and that she carried out that renegation by terminating four pregnancies, and that she wouldn't cook or clean or take his name, and that she wouldn't take meds for her depression, and that she "disrespected [his] integrity and manhood."
The blonde, a chiropractor and law student, contends that Toomer was a douchebag, with various embedded legal contentions, including that he pissed on her clothes and tossed her Blackberry into the Hudson, while stifling her career ambitions and pestering her for sex.
Like I said, pretty ritualistic, yes? Clearly, these kids don't like each other. Standard divorce fare. Toomer's accusations sound moody and testosterone-poisoned; hers sound stereotypically shrill. All of which is undoubtedly skewed by the filters of their lawyers, as further filtered by Page Six.
So why am I pissed? Let's go to the videotape:
"Of course she doesn't cook or clean. She doesn't have the time with all the trips to Planned Parenthood. She's done more abortions than a closet full of wire hangers in the 1950s. Pol Pot killed fewer babies."
Aw, dood. You didn't. No, really, you didn't. After staying clean on politics for so long, you decide to smear Planned Parenthood on a blog read largely by guys? You equate abortion with babykilling? With fucking Pol Pot?
Okay, okay. I've defended your right to edgy humor before, I'll do it again. We're done here, right?
"Yeah, Toomer is such a bad guy, says the woman who uses the abortion clinic instead of the Pill. But she's right about one thing -- a BlackBerry is way more important than a fetus. It's true. You ever tried to play Tetris on a baby bulge? Fucking impossible."
Dood. Dood. DOOD. The abortion clinic instead of the pill? For one thing, that's Amani's allegation, run through Page Six. For another, you do understand that the pill has a limited success rate, right? I mean, you don't take it totally for granted; shit happens. For another, you've not only ignored, you have pissed on the equal possibility that Amani Toomer may have actually abused this broad. Equal, I say, because we have roughly equal evidence to the effect that he's a douchebag and she's a golddigger (which is, after all, what this is about)--and all of that evidence came from PAGE FUCKING SIX.
I thought long and hard, and I'm not cutting With Leather from my daily reading, or from the Sausage to your right. I'm not going to take Ufford to task on his home turf, because while some folk over there will get it, a lot won't, and I don't need the aggravation, and I don't want to become PNG in a place where I occasionally find a need to drop a witty comment. I am going to write to him privately and ask that he read this post, and offer him an opportunity to correct any egregious factual wrongs I'm doing him here.
And I'm damn sure not suggesting that you go take this up yourself. I'm really not. What I am doing is this: you're on notice, Mister Ufford. While it is perfectly reasonable that my respect and affection may be trivial to you--and in fact, there's no reason why they should be anything but trivial--you have trifled with them today, Sir. Seriously. Please maintain your laser-like focus on what the fuck it is you're supposed to be doing. Thank you.
UPDATE: Matt Ufford updated the post in question, to note that he does not, in fact, take seriously anything he reads on Page Six. He reminds that "nothing -- nothing -- on this site is serious unless I make it an explicit point to 'take off my With Leather hat.' You fucking nancies."
I'll take his point and be done with this. My sacred cow ain't your sacred cow.