Gritty Exonerated

Gritty Exonerated

Just a quick update to let you know that the Kansas City Chiefs (a team based in Missouri, which is apparently confusing to some) won the Super Bowl, managing to beat an excellent Santa Clara 49ers team and win their first NFL championship since the Vietnam War. Some seem to have been concerned by Sunday’s halftime show, which featured performers wearing costumes some considered too revealing for them or their children to see. To this I would respond: (1) those people are going to be absolutely horrified when they learn about the internet, and (2) those weren’t costumes, that’s just how people dress in Miami. According to the internet, at least.

This week also marks the end of an investigation that some called a witch hunt and others described as an important test of the rule of law, as the arguably serious charges against Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty were found to be baseless.

As you will recall, a Philadelphia season-ticket holder claimed that Gritty had freaked out after being patted on the head during a photo opportunity, saying Gritty had “lunged toward my son from about eight to 10 feet away and punched him in the back.” SeeGritty Investigated” (Jan. 24, 2020). The man said he had not retained a lawyer, which, to some, only confirmed that he was thinking about retaining a lawyer. But at the time, the investigation was active and ongoing.

According to this report, the “overriding consensus” on Facebook and Twitter (and this was almost certainly a careful, scientific assessment) was that Gritty had not punched the boy, and that if he had, that would’ve just been fine. “I think I speak for almost all parents of young teens when I say I’d be honored to have Gritty punch my kid,” said “Clue Heywood” on Twitter. “Gritty did absolutely nothing wrong,” tweeted another. This of course was a defense that both Gritty and the president asserted, the difference being that one of them was smart enough not to admit guilt on national television. But it seems to have worked for both.

The Flyers said that their “thorough internal investigation” found no evidence that the assault had taken place, and today the Philadelphia Police Department said the same thing. Well, I take that back. Specifically, it said it had “determined that the actions of the individual portraying the Flyers’ mascot did not constitute physical assault as alleged.” That isn’t the same as a mere lack of evidence. It makes it sound like Gritty did something along the lines alleged, like maybe the lunging, it just didn’t constitute physical assault and so the cops aren’t going to charge him. But according to the Flyers, the incident (if any) was not captured on camera and none of the other fans in the area witnessed the incident (if any). So it seems more likely that this is another case of a police spokesperson being less than clear.

“I respect the police’s decision,” the potential plaintiff told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “but I stand by what my son told me and what I saw.” This suggests both that he saw it and that he didn’t see it, which ordinarily would be a problem for one’s credibility. But in a post-truth world, I suppose that may not apply anymore.

Henry Mitchell

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