With the Super Bowl behind us, I just want to say a few words about the conduct of athletes in the major sports.

Case in point ? Baltimore Ravens defensive back Ray Lewis.

This man was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. He plays hard on the gridiron, but just before the season started, he could have been playing with the chain gang behind the steel of prison bars.

Lewis was on trial for the stabbing deaths of two men, and he later pled guilty to a misdemeanor under an agreement that dropped the murder charges.

It is utterly mind-boggling how sportswriters can herald this man?s ability to be a real menace to opposing quarterbacks while ignoring that he was charged with murder.

He was convicted of a crime, and he should not be heralded for his athletic prowess, no matter how hard he tackles. If I were in the same situation, I probably wouldn?t have a job.

Being convicted of a crime looks bad on an employment application. Unlike the land of plenty that athletes inhabit, in the real world morals actually matter.

So the next time you cheer for your favorite athlete, make sure he or she knows the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, the only way you are going to be able to see them practice their talent is by getting a visitor?s pass at your nearest prison.

Free speech at a price

During the recent presidential race, Senator John McCain (R-Az.) captured the hearts and minds of Americans like no other.

He robustly voiced his desire to put the power of government back in the hands of the governed. He did not want to leave that power in the hands of the special interests who tend to buy votes with more money than most of us will see in our lifetimes.

McCain has been pressing for a vote in the Senate on the campaign finance reform bill that he is co-sponsoring. He even seems to be at odds with the new administration over setting a time to vote on the measure.

He did this because the bill will nullify the ability to pump massive amounts of money into political campaigns in hopes of doing away with corruption, making it possible for normal Americans to once again have a say in who their leaders are.

The only problem is that McCain is trying to enlist the help of the American people in a way that taints his efforts with hypocrisy.

McCain officials have created a Web site on which a person can ?sign? his or her name to a petition in favor of campaign finance reform. This in itself is a wonderful idea. The hypocrisy seeps in when you find out that you can?t simply add your name to the list. Instead, to have your voice heard, you must make a donation to McCain?s Web site.

I loved McCain and would have surely voted for him over the two choices we had. How the mighty have fallen.

In order to campaign against soft money, McCain is asking the people whose opinion he is supposedly defending to turn around and give money to a political campaign. Although the dollar amounts are not in the thousands, the fact that political speech comes at a price hurts this country?s basic principle of freedom of speech.

It means that every time people want to voice their opinion on a crucial issue like campaign finance reform, education or abortion, they will have to ante up. Otherwise those who can afford the price tag of free speech will silence them.

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