I said I was not going to write a story on Cliff Harris' traffic citations. That would have been true had there not been a new report this morning.
As it turns out, Cliff Harris' family has paperwork indicating that the suspension was to have been lifted after 60 days. Having had my own license suspended 23 years ago over a technical paperwork error, I am aware that having a suspension lifted still requires additional paperwork, not just a judge decreeing that it can be lifted, but there are additional steps one must take once that period has passed.
That being said, this changes the entire perspective of this most recent incident. As commentator after commentator piled on top of Cliff Harris bandying about the term "stupid" and questioning Harris ability to make a decision, I simply heard Chip Kelly say he was still gathering all the facts.
One could think what facts are there to gather? It seemed like a pretty simple situation. Harris was suspended. Harris was driving while suspended. But no official comment came from The Other Side of Duck for a reason. We just did not know the entirety of the situation.
In this day and age of instant news, students were reporting the citation of Cliff Harris and the news spread immediately of the citation. But all reports were so premature about the truth behind the situation, that commentary on the "stupidity" of a single person was not only unfair, but now, possibly, inaccurate.
I said all along that this situation was never about the tickets themselves, but about violating terms of reinstatement. Today, I stand by that thought. However, with more facts in, it is time to re-evaluate your stance. Was Cliff Harris being stupid because he thought his license had been reinstated? Of course not. And that's the thing, as radio rhetoricians spent the day hammering away at Cliff Harris as if they personally knew him on the same level as his team mates, they forgot a simple rule; know what you are talking about before you offer strong commentary.
This is a perfect example of how premature character assassination can destroy the chance any person has of showing that the assumptions made by media and fans alike are not accurate. The problem with the original reporting of this story is that no media member considered the possibility that there had been a mix up in the reinstatement process of Harris' license. They simply jumped to the conclusion that Harris was "stupid." That is irresponsible journalism.
I have been where Cliff Harris was, with one exception, I knew the reinstatement process. The only difference? I had the assistance of a state senator when I needed my license reinstated. Somehow, I doubt that there were any politicians helping out Cliff Harris when he believed his license had been reinstated.
To Harris' credit, he did not immediately start complaining that we did not know the truth. He dealt with it internally with his coach and team mates. That, in my opinion, shows Cliff Harris may have matured a bit in the last six months.
If the report is true and Cliff Harris has paperwork indicating that the suspension was supposed to have been lifted after 60 days, that changes everything. At this point, that piece of paper should reinstate more than his license. It should reinstate Cliff Harris.
The only people that should be suspended if this report is true, all those people who felt it okay to personally attack the character of a person they did not know. Shame on the media for starting the assassination.
It's time for Cliff Harris to be reinstated. too bad we cannot suspend those who felt it okay to attack a man without the entire story. Frame the story better and none of this happens.