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Consequences for misbehavior

By Tim Wood

Originally published in The Columbia Daily Herald on April 18, 1999"

Events of the past week suggest that there is still justice in the world.

Three news events suggest that people are still being held accountable for their actions.

President Clinton was cited for civil contempt by the judge who presided over the Paula Jones civil lawsuit. The judge determined that Clinton tried to obstruct justice in the case by not being truthful in a deposition.

While I opposed the removal of Clinton from office, it was disturbing that he did not suffer any formal consequences for his misconduct. Censure of the president before the Senate's vote on removal might have been on shaky legal grounds. However, a censure resolution following the removal vote should not have had any legal complications. However, the Senate dropped the matter, possibly because they, like most of the country, were tired of it.

Clinton undoubtedly suffered private consequences for his actions. We can only speculate about the pain he caused his wife, Hillary, daughter, Chelsea, and those associates to whom he lied about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky.

The judge's decision adds another historical footnote to Clinton's legacy. He goes down as the second president to be impeached and the first to be found in civil contempt of court.

Clinton also faces possible loss of his law license. Clinton will be a young ex-president when he leaves office. Practicing law might not have been his primary career plan, but the loss of his law license would limit his options.

In another event, basketball player Dennis Rodman was released by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers Coach Kurt Rambis ran out of patience with "The Worm."

Rodman expects special treatment. He took a leave of absence earlier this season to attend to "personal problems," and was spotted gambling in Las Vegas. He does not like to sit on the bench when he's not playing, instead preferring to ride a stationary exercise cycle. He's refused to re-enter two games recently, claiming his muscles had tightened up, and missed the second half of another game complaining of an injury.

The last straw, according to an Associated Press report, was when Rodman showed up late for the team's Thursday practice and was slow getting ready because he couldn't find his socks and shoes.

It's difficult to allow my children be NBA fans in light of the fighting that goes on in games, the sight of millionaire players acting like prima donnas and the behavior of the likes of Rodman.

Perhaps he's finally received the consequences of his behavior. Several NBA general managers have indicated they won't consider signing him. He would not be eligible for the playoffs unless a team with less than eight healthy players signs him.

In the third story, a judge fined the American Airlines pilots union $45.5 million for an illegal sick-out that led to the cancellation of more than 6,700 flights earlier this year.

The judge fined the union for ignoring his order to tell pilots to return to work during the February job action. If the fine is upheld and the money is paid, it will go to American Airlines, which lost $50 million during the 10-day sickout. The fine is more than the net worth of the Allied Pilots Association.

The sick-out stranded thousands of travelers, who apparently will receive no compensation for having their plans disrupted with little or no notice, and being forced to scramble for hotel accommodations or sleep in airports. If the fine is upheld, perhaps they will get some satisfaction.

In a world where it appears more and more people are getting away with misconduct, it's good to know that there are still consequences for bad behavior.

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