A Repeat Offender And His Bad Jokes Victor Kiam Just Can't Stop Joshing About War, Death And Sexual Harassment.

Posted: February 12, 1991

Pity the poor recidivist. Victor Kiam, patron and owner of the New England Patriots, a man better known for his electric razor than his razor wit, had been sent to solitary after the Lisa Olson debacle. Now, before he served his time, he has struck again.

Who let this guy out on furlough? Why doesn't his P.R. man have him under electronic surveillance?

At a nearly all-male, all-jock event in Connecticut, the Remington reaper was being roasted about a season in which the losses on the playing field were more than matched by the losers in the locker room. Some of his players were more dangerous out of uniform - and I mean OUT of uniform - than in.

The naked aggression against reporter Olson had produced an unrivaled flap about sexual harassment. Our boy Victor, who called the incident "a flyspeck in the ocean" and called Olson a "classic bitch," had ended up in full- flight, full-page, all-network apologies.

But here he was on a weekday pass, and he couldn't help himself. He told the crowd a joke: "What do the Iraqis have in common with Lisa Olson? They've both seen Patriot missiles up close."

Gag that man with a jockstrap. One thought ran through the minds of even this friendly crowd, "I can't believe he said that!" Now we know why he makes electric razors: He can't trust himself around a blade.

The "joke" itself - which apparently was making the rounds - offers enough material to fuel any number of sonorous academic seminars on the subject of humor and society.

How can humor offend you? Let me count the ways.

Joshing about war, death, sexual harassment? That's three and we've just begun. Kiam managed to wrap up every lethal analogy between football and combat and women and overlay it with phallic symbolism. Only without the symbolism.

The missiles, Vic? It's bad enough that we name a weapon and a football team Patriots, a word that supposedly defines "one who loves and loyally or zealously supports one's own country." The sports metaphors about war are flying as thick as the planes over the desert. It all reduces war to a game.

But the reverse is more appalling. The not-very subconscious confusion of virility and hostility reads like an entry in the annals of Macho Madness: Men and their Missiles.

As for the merger of a woman and the Iraqi enemy as targets, well, at least he's got the right idea about sexual assault. Was this a belated admission that the boys in the locker room were using their, uh, weapons in a hostile act?

Kiam has always reminded me of one of those nerdy kids who can't get anyone to play with them unless they have the only ball. He bought the ball, the playing field, the team.

After the Olson flap last fall, he and his boys got their knuckles rapped, and swore they had learned their lesson. Now, again, he says his behavior was ''insensitive and inappropriate," a phrase used nowadays to describe everything from wearing white socks with a navy suit to engaging in mass murder.

Is Kiam suffering from multiple-personality syndrome? The two faces of Victor: one apologizes, the other insults; one is sensitive, the other a lout.

The only hope for the repeat offender is in The Wade Boggs Defense. When the Boston Red Sox player's sexual infidelity made the headlines, he threw

himself on the mercy of the court of public opinion, confessing, "I am a sex addict." He couldn't help himself, poor thing. Kiam should be declared a sexism addict, or a bad-joke addict, or an offense addict.

Forget the fines and apologies. In the spirit of the times, he should be given an alternative sentence at a 12-step program for people who are compulsively offensive. Repeat after me - Step One: We admit that we are powerless over the urge to offend others, that our lives have become unmanageable. Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Before you get to Step 12, Victor, try to remember that bad jokes aren't like missiles. They're more like land mines. When you fall over them, they explode in your face.

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