On the same day that Rutger’s Athletic Director Tim Pernetti fired basketball coach Mike Rice, comes word that the Supreme Court of West Virginia suspended Putnam County Va. Family Law Judge William M. Watkins III. (decision available here). The decision came after members of the court viewed several YouTube videos of Judge Watkins. In one such video, which had been viewed over 200,000 times the judge repeatedly told a paston to “shut up.” In another incident Watkins said to a woman seeking an order of protection, “”Shut up! You stupid woman.” The Rice case may be a bit more familiar to readers. Rutgers fired Rice less than 24 hours after ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired video of Rice committing inexcusable acts, including kicking players, throwing balls at them and yelling homophobic slurs.
The timing of these firings is most curious. At least in Rice’s case, the firings did not come at the time his superiors learned of his transgressions, but rather after the transgressions were aired on the social media website, leading to huge public outcry. This begs a question this blog has come back to again and again. Does the public nature of social media assure greater accountability. At least in these two instances I would have to say yes. But-for the public outcry I am not confident that neither of these wrongdoers would have received the same degree of punishment absent the publicity following their acts. I would go further and say such is most certainly the case where Mike Rice is concerned.