The old joke used to be that a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged. The increasing lawlessness of American athletes has a lot of liberals reconsidering their willingness to excuse outrageous behavior as simply an inevitable byproduct of poverty, or worse, as an alternative culture that has a validity of its own.

Player representatives to the NFL Players Association—the players’ union—have asked the organization to crack down on players involved in criminal behavior, and Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander, a liberal himself, writes about the increasing mood of disenchantment with wealthy young thugs making trouble in public.

Violence seems to break out all too often where prominent athletes gather, in recent years, and the incidence is clearly rising. Telander has had enough, and he senses that many others who hold liberal views like him are coming to feel the same way, realizing that the behavior of these wealthy, privileged thugs reflects a horrible reality of life in American neighborhoods:

I sense a change in the air. I sense for the first time that Americans — black, white, brown — have had enough of the nonsense from the sports and entertainment world, enough of the thuggery and violence in words and deeds disguised as the art of ”being real,” enough of lawlessness masquerading as social acting out, enough of immoral, discourteous and criminal behavior being tolerated because it is expression or rebellion or anything other than what it is: bad stuff.

I say this in the aftershock of an NFL season that saw so many players arrested, it seemed like a casting call for prison sports.

”It has to stop,” said Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, steward of a team with nine players arrested in 13 months. ”It’s ridiculous.”

I make my observation with the foul stench of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas redolent in the air, with the January shooting death of the Denver Broncos’ Darrent Williams still lingering, with the questioning of Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam ”Pacman” Jones for his alleged involvement in a hideous brawl and multiple shootings at the Vegas strip club Minxx right there for all to stare at and gag upon.

The cult of lawlessness that has made some black American neighborhoods as dangerous as Baghdad, that has made many of our inner-city schools resemble locked-down gang fortresses, that has created an atmosphere that terrifies law-abiding mothers and fathers into cowering behind locked doors at night, fearful of the stray bullet that might choose one of their children — this has reached critical mass.

What has made this mess possible, Telander acknowledges, is that the mainstream media and political leaders have avoided taking a stand on such lawlessness because it is concentrated so heavily among African-Americans.

Now, however, Telander realizes that this "cult of lawlessness" hurts everyone, especially black people. The latter are subjected to continual intimidation and criminal depredation from a sizeable African-American criminal class that is every bit as brutal toward black Americans as the Ku Klux Klan was decades ago. Telander quotes AOL sports columnist Jason Whitlock, an African-American, on the subject:

‘We have a problem in the black community, and it didn’t make its debut at All-Star Weekend in Vegas,” writes sports columnist Jason Whitlock, a black man whom I admire and consider a friend. ”What was impossible to ignore in Vegas was on display in Houston, Atlanta and previous All-Star locations.”

Whitlock, a large, intimidating-looking fellow who played Division I football and was nauseated by the thug posturing in Vegas, goes on to say that with the exception of Louis Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March, black thuggishness ”has been on display nearly every time we’ve gathered in large groups to socialize in the past 15 years or so.”

A more severe condemnation could hardly be imagined. Understandably, Whitlock is disgusted by this situation. Telander continues: 

His name for the criminals and malevolent poseurs who show up to ”ruin our good time”?

The Black Ku Klux Klan.

‘ In one of the strongest, most fearless statements of post-Civil Rights disgust you will read anywhere, Whitlock writes, ”instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK has now taken to wearing white T’s and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members.

”Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and ’50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don’t bother us. Our fear makes them stronger. Our silence empowers them. Our excuse-making . .. increases their influence.”

Telander concludes that it shouldn’t surprise us that NFL players are asking their union to crack down on the substantial criminal element among the league’s players, who bring shame upon the league as a whole:

Hating anarchy should have nothing to do with profession or status.

And certainly not with color.

That’s right, Rick. Glad to have you on board.