Last Wednesday, New York Knicks forward Antonio Davis was playing a game against the Bulls here in Chic when he entered the stands to confront a fan who he believed was threatening his wife. No punches were thrown, no blows were exchanged, and no violence took place; however, the NBA has a strict policy about players entering the stands. Davis was suspended for five games and will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary. Even if the player's union (of which Davis is the president) succeeds in reducing or voiding the suspension, Davis will be fined a minimum of $15,000.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Weishofer, who in 2003 helped torture to death an Iraqi general -- stuffing him face-first into a sleeping bag, covering his mouth, and jumping on his chest until he asphyxiated -- received a fine of six thousand dollars. When the sentence (the bare minimum, with no jail time, for the charge of negligent homicide, which came after the jury declined to find him guilty of homicide) was read, Weishofer's fellow soldiers stood and applauded. His attorney claimed throughout the trial that Weishofer had only been following orders, a hauntingly familiar defense for anyone familiar with the Nuremberg trials of 1946. Weishofer will not be imprisoned, discharged or demoted, and the Army (who engaged in a cover-up about the death from the very beginning, claiming falsely that General Mowhoush had been captured, claiming falsely that he had given information about insurgent activities, and claiming falsely that he had died of natural causes when the autopsy revealed signs of torture and gave the cause of death as asphyxiation) plans no further prosecutions in the case.
It's too bad Davis can't get a deal like Weishofer. For what it cost him to just walk up into the stands, he could have tortured two, three Iraqis to death.