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Hypocrisy and free speech in sports

10 September 2016

9:00 AM

10 September 2016

9:00 AM

For those of you who don’t follow US sports, let me tell you that there is currently a big brouhaha in the biggest American sport of all, the NFL (or gridiron to some readers). One of its better known players, a quarterback who only a few years ago took his team to the Super Bowl in a losing effort, is at the centre of this controversy. The quarterback’s name is Colin Kaepernick. The pre-season is over in the States and this guy has started to refuse to stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick sits, or sometimes kneels, while everyone else stands to attention for the Star Spangled Banner. Kaepernick has also been photographed at practice wearing socks that show a variety of pigs, all with the heads of police officers (‘fat cop pig socks’ to use the accepted lingo).

You see Kaepernick has bought hook-line-and-sinker the ‘Black Lives Matter’ line on all the recent police shootings in the US. He damns the US and the police as oppressive and racist while wearing Castro T-shirts; he implies (wrongly) that it is always white cops doing the killing of black suspects; he has no clue about the actual statistics on the shooting by police of blacks in that country of 320 million people; he seems not to know that blacks are statistically much more likely to commit crimes; and God knows the man wouldn’t have a clue that the comparative economic position of blacks in the US has worsened noticeably since Obama entered the White House. He spouts a sort of American equivalent of the hard left (oops, wholly independent and unbiased) GetUp! party line.

It might also be worth letting you know that Kaepernick’s birth mother is white and his biological father is black. His mum was destitute when she gave birth to him so she put him up for adoption. The couple that adopted him, and raised him, and put him through university, are both white. His birth mum is on twitter criticizing her son for disrespecting the country that has given him so much. (Kaepernick earns tens of millions of dollars every year and owns cars to kill for, though of late his play has been pretty lousy and he’s now been benched down to second string quarterback.)

As you can imagine this soap opera has provoked untold interest and plenty of commentary. And anger. And disgust. And support. And talk of the importance of free speech. And psycho-babble about ‘needed conversations’ and ‘journeys’, words that make me want to puke.   That said, the preponderance of Americans dislike what Kaepernick is doing, and they dislike it a lot. So in that sense he’s being brave, because if his play on the field doesn’t soon improve, and he becomes a borderline option, my guess is that the team management gurus will consider him more trouble than he’s worth – but that’s just my guess, and anyway he’ll still walk away from the game with somewhere over $30 to $40 million.

I mention all of that because this whole Kaepernick saga has exposed how politically left-leaning even sports journalists and TV sports broadcasters are. My Lord they are falling all over themselves to assure their readers and viewers – most of whom now can’t stand Kaepernick and think what he’s doing is wrong – that this is why free speech matters, to give an airing to views one doesn’t like or even can’t stand.

Now don’t get me wrong. I agree whole-heartedly with this defence of free speech. The whole point of wanting plenty of scope for people to speak their minds (including implicitly voicing their views by not standing when the national anthem is played) is to give an airing to views you really dislike; views you find offensive and insulting. No one needs any free speech protections for views we like and agree with (like standing for the anthem). Most people not part of the Liberal Party caucus instinctively understand this. Okay, maybe those in the Green Party don’t get free speech either. Ditto the Labor Party. Ditto the ABC and the Fairfax Press. But I digress, while depressing myself.

Go back to all these sports journos and broadcasters, the sort you can watch any day on ESPN – the world’s most politically correct sports channel ever. Where were these exact same proponents of the value of free speech only a little while ago when the former great baseball player turned broadcaster Curt Schilling made comments, mild comments in my view, about how there seemed to be a problem with Islamic extremism? Schilling also made clear that he didn’t think that men should be allowed in women’s toilets. Schilling got fired by his TV network and there was virtually not a peep from the many people now extolling the virtues of free speech.

Oh, and not long ago after the shooting of those police officers in their city, the Dallas Cowboys NFL franchise wanted to put ‘pro police’ decals on their helmets. The league said ‘no’ and how many journos and broadcasters supported this speech? Well, about the same number as supported Schilling’s comments on men in women’s toilets and the problems of Islamic extremism. Basically pick a prime number under six and you won’t be far off.

Heck, why stop there. When Christian sports stars voice dislike of same sex marriage how much talk of the importance of different views and the wonders of free speech do you hear? How many sports journos then mouth platitudes about ‘needed journeys’ and ‘important conversations’? Pretty much none of them.

Here’s why. They are overwhelmingly hypocrites. It becomes ever more apparent that they don’t support free speech. No, they just happen to agree with Kaepernick about the police. Or at least they’re sympathetic. So that is the only kind of speech they want to protect. Heaven knows they have no time for things like Christian football players uneasy with same-sex marriage or ex-baseball stars stating the bleeding obvious about Islamic extremism or any sports star who thinks men should stay out of women’s restrooms.

I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising. Sports journalists go to the same massively left-leaning university journalism departments that churn out all the other preponderantly lefty journalists. And don’t for a second think this is just a US phenomenon. You see it on the back page of the newspaper here, too, any time there’s an Adam Goodes incident. Or any time the AFL decides anything.

The post Hypocrisy and free speech in sports appeared first on The Spectator.

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