At the end of the Honda Indy Toronto, Al Unser Jr. made his way to the Versus broadcast booth to give the talking heads the low-down on why Race Control acted - or, to put it more accurately, declined to act - on the multitudinous incidents in the race.
As I listened to his explanations, I found myself not buying most of them. Okay, so he had a long and distinguished open-wheel racing career and the closest I've ever been to an IndyCar drive has been some karting, a couple of racing schools, and a whole lot of laps in iRacing. So on paper, I suppose, it shouldn't matter what my opinion is against one of the iconic names in the sport, right?
Still, I didn't agree with Unser's interpretations - and, by extension, those of Tony Cotman and Brian Barnhart, the other two guys who make the calls in Race Control.
The fact that I disagreed (and still do), however, does not mean that I wish for one instant to appear as though I approve of the firestorm of criticism leveled at Unser via social media after his remarks - a firestorm that eventually caused Little Al to quit his social media efforts cold turkey.
I am of the opinion that constructive criticism is not only acceptable, but desperately needed in order for people and organizations to improve. Without legitimate, objective criticism to balance out the yes-men, stagnation becomes the order of the day.
But what increasingly occurs on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and so forth, is nothing remotely like constructive criticism. In many cases, it's not even criticism, but pure schadenfreude, cheap insults, ad hominem attacks, and other aberrant behavior that is inspired by the comforting cloak of anonymity.
Let's not mince words. These people are either outright cowards or absolute morons. There is no middle ground. To make sport out of spouting ugly, vicious vitriol, to treat it like a game or a lark, is a clear indicator of a mental and emotional deficit. Some of these douchecanoes don't even do it to provoke a response - they simply do it because it's their perverted idea of fun.
That's not to say that some of the avalanche of criticism faced by Unser wasn't the frustration of hardcore fans with the inconsistency of Race Control boiling over. In those cases, it's not that the people are inherently moronic - they just acted moronic because their common sense was blinded by misplaced passion.
Still, Unser did not deserve to become such a public whipping boy, and the response certainly was disproportionate to whatever his supposed crime was. Yes, IndyCar Race Control is about as consistent as a random number generator, and justice would most likely be better served in some cases if they threw darts at a board. But disagreement about how a person conducts himself professionally is no excuse to launch personal attacks... particularly with the caustic venom that flows through the fangs of so many social media patrons lately.
By making his public appearance to offer Race Control's explanation of the events at Toronto, Al Unser Jr. automatically showed more courage and character than any of the imbeciles who subsequently flamed him. And though I disagreed with what he said, I respect him for at least making the effort to offer the explanation in the first place.
Certainly, Little Al is far more deserving of compliment than the asshat fans who, from the security of their anonymous social media accounts, proved that not only are opinions like assholes, they are often expressed by them.