Beer-toss not weak moment
Should we feel sorry for Hamilton man?
Now Pagan, 42, has finally decided to try to explain himself. But what he decided to do with a patient and generous CBC interviewer is sad.
Feeling sorry for people is what I do, and what an exhausting business it is. A contrarian mindset makes things worse, in that I tend to leap to the defence of the person who seems to be most in the soup at any given time. Wretchedness attracts me.
Those I feel sorry for: Kellyanne Conway, people who buy inflatable sex dolls, me, moose (big and hapless), ants (small and earnest).
Those I don’t feel sorry for: that Peterborough homebuyer complaining that her new driveway is too short for her pickup truck, men with slicked-back pompadours (Scaramucci, Eric Trump, Don Trump Jr., you see the pattern here), Ken Pagan.
Pagan, an alleged victim, is the ex-Postmedia copy editor and Hamilton man who threw a can of beer at then-Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Hyun Soo Kim at a Blue Jays game in Toronto last October. When teammate Adam Jones expressed his shock, both he and Kim were hit with racist abuse from Toronto fans, at the game itself and on social media. They faced a stadium. “N----r thinks it’s a can of Colt 45,” one fan shouted at Jones. “Go back to your country, Kim,” another called out. There was more according to tweets from the game, as Pagan quietly slipped out. Kim was stoic about the weapon, and brave about the racism, as was Jones. “It’s the first time for me and hopefully the last,” Kim said through an interpreter.
Now Pagan, 42, has finally decided to try to explain himself. But what he decided to do with a patient and generous CBC interviewer is sad. Yes, he’s sorry. But he is unable or unwilling to explain why he chose Kim as his target, has no apology for Jones, and does not discuss the lasting effect his rage had on players whose brief careers depend on every moment in every game they’re in.
Police can’t say what Pagan’s blood-alcohol level was because he didn’t even phone them until late the next day. They could not test him. “I just had a weak moment,” Pagan says. That’s not what I would call it. He had “a few beers” at a nearby restaurant with his brother and some old friends, he told the CBC, “and kept up that pace through the evening.” Then he damaged Toronto’s reputation, let a young woman sitting near him be blamed and targeted online, and helped start a racist onslaught. Even horror writer Stephen King was appalled that night as he watched. “Hey, whatever happened to polite Canadians?”
After Pagan was finally identified and charged, he lost his job at the Postmedia editing operation in Hamilton, although because of a nondisclosure agreement, he is unwilling to say whether he was told to leave or resigned out of human decency. Why not defy the clause and say honestly what happened? People who start bar fights are not having weak moments, they are behaving monstrously. When they acknowledge it and try to stop drinking, I admire their humility.
But then women have a different view of male drunks than men do. Men are physically stronger and more aggressive. What they do when they drink has bloodier consequences. Men may dislike drunks. I fear them. Watching sports is passive but still entrancing. Boozing enhances the game, just as it does with book clubs. It offers flow, the feeling of being caught up in something so gripping that one forgets one’s job in a sinking industry, the doldrums of middle age and the shortness of one’s driveway.
There’s something repellent about the sloppy sentimentalizing of sport, as absurd as that thankfully now-fading fashion for cocktails among drinkers without capacity for hard liquor. You’re not a mixologist, you’re a bartender. You’re not a sports fan, you’re drunk, and I say that as someone who is hopeless after one glass of white.
“I have to respect the game. I do respect the game,” Pagan says. What does that even mean?
There’s nothing to respect in a puck or a ball, a stick or a bat. Respect the human being playing the game.