The overview of our latest Ethics Train Wreck continues from Part One…
- Slate published an essay by African-American musician John Legend that itself makes an excellent case against the protests while supposedly glorifying them. Never mind the standard anti-Trump spin at the beginning about “Islamophobia” and the rest, though it is nice for any author to state up front that he’s completely biased and his opinion should be discarded as such. Legend and Slate have the audacity to evoke actual protests that were clear and targeted in comparison the all-purpose “knee”:
“Protest is patriotic. Protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation. Protest in America has been essential to ending war, to demanding equal rights, to ending unfair practices that keep citizens marginalized. If we quell protest in the name of patriotism, we are not patriots. We are tyrants.
Would there have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests? When Bull Connor unleashed his fire hoses and dogs on the schoolchildren taking to the streets, racial disparities and the violence facing people because of the color of their skin became the issues of the times. With savage images of the brutal attack in the news every day, President John Kennedy had little choice but to push for a Civil Rights Act that demanded equal services and equal rights.
Protests in Selma, Alabama, changed the trajectory of this nation and catapulted the Voting Rights Act into being.”
A recipe for tapioca would be as germane to the NFL protests as the Selma march. There is no definable law, principle or position these protests bring into focus. Let’s check the Ethics Alarms Protest Ethics Checklist against the NFL grandstanding:
1. Is this protest just and necessary?
No. How is it just? How is it necessary?
2. Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad or narrow?
Unclear and too broad by definition, since no two protesters make the same argument.
3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?
Obviously not. What does football have to do with “racial justice”?
4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so?
5. What will this protest cost, and who will have to pay the bill?
It’s already cost the NFL millions. But nobody is protesting the NFL…
6. Will the individuals or organizations that are the targets of the protest also be the ones who will most powerfully feel its effects?
7. Will innocent people be adversely affected by this action? (If so, how many?)
Sure: every single fan who wants to just watch football.
8. Is there a significant possibility that anyone will be hurt or harmed? (if so, how seriously? How many people?)
The relentless politicizing of sports and entertainment harms U.S. society and frays the fabric of democracy. That means everyone.
9. Are you and your group prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences of the protest?
Clearly not: witness the constant complaining that NFL teams won’t hire Kaepernick so their season is dominated by racial politics rather than, you know, football..
10. Would an objective person feel that the protest is fair, reasonable, and proportional to its goal?
11. What is the likelihood that the protest will be remembered as important, coherent, useful, effective and influential?
My guess: no chance whatsoever, unless unintended consequences count, like getting more votes for President Trump and crippling the NFL count.
12. Could the same resources, energy and time be more productively used toward achieving the same goals, or better ones?
It’s hard to imaging what wouldn’t be a better use of resources, energy and time.
Verdict: It’s an unethical protest. There is nothing patriotic about unethical protests. We have a right to protest; as with free speech, that doesn’t make all examples of exercising that right good, and certainly not “patriotic.”
- However, let me argue in the alternative, as lawyers often do. Let’s say that, as Legend claims, all protests are patriotic. Fine. Then then Charlottesville protest against tearing down a statue of Robert E. Lee was also patriotic. Why, the, was the President attacked—by Legend and Slate, among others, for not condemning it?
The Left believes that protests are sacrosanct only when they are doing the protesting. There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about accurately labeling a dumb, badly-conceived or destructive protest, and this one is all three.
- Ann Althouse has a great line in her post about the news media and the Left suddenly becoming NFL boosters to make sure they were on the opposite side from Trump. She quoted the Times reaction to the latest CTE development, which she characterized as…
“Football was down. The end. We, the good people who read the NYT, must say no to football. What is known cannot become unknown except by willful, immoral forgetting. No decent person can take pleasure in football. No fit parent can allow a child to take up the game. The era of American football is over. Bury it. We can end the misery through the simple and necessary refusal to watch anymore. Say no, America… or hey, wait a minute. Here’s that nasty President of the United States and he’s calling for a boycott of football…
So, watch the liberal media endeavor to save football from bad old President Trump. He’s a racist. This is his racism once again, stirring up the stupid people who voted for him. Here‘s the NYT today:
“The tweet suggested that the president, who used an expletive on Friday night to refer to players who kneel or sit in protest during the anthem — a practice that took hold last season among some African-American players after Colin Kaepernick, the now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, did so to protest racial and social injustice — is bent on deepening a bitter culture-war fight with the N.F.L.
It is a highly charged debate, with unmistakable racial undertones, pitting advocates of free speech who argue that professional athletes should have a right to use their positions to call attention to social issues against those who contend that refusing to honor the anthem disrespects the military and the nation, and that sports is no place for such displays.”
“Let the brain damage continue. We’ve got a culture war to fight.”
- Althouse’s analysis exemplifies how much this Train Wreck is driven by the cognitive dissonance scale. Political grandstanding was low on the scale…
..but once it was attached to the cause of a group—black players, the progressive news media, BLM— the NFL was afraid to challenge, its position on the scale was yanked into positive territory. Then Kaepernick’s antics seemed to lead to lost ratings, so back below the midpoint went the protest, resulting in Kaepernick’s rejection by every NFL team. Meanwhile, the increasing evidence that the NFL is destroying brains was pulling the whole league into negative territory, until the President attacked the protests. For the news media, Trump-Hate is more powerful and positive than almost anything now—yes, even the lives destroyed by a greedy, corrupt business—so back up the scale went the NFL.
Commissioner Goodell’s retort to the President, widely described as “firing back” was so disingenuous and manfestly false that it is laughable. I’ll break in (in bold) to what he wrote in a statement:
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.”
How does a race-based on-field protest that attacks police, the flag, the National Anthem and the United States “create a sense of unity”? This is a non sequitur.
“There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month”
Translation: “Hey! Let’s not talk about the bad stuff we do: what about the good stuff! Huh? What about that?”
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
Here is the NFL arrest database. The concussion scandal has already been covered. The league’s domestic abuse problem has been well-documented. The most acclaimed team and its equally acclaimed quarterback have been caught cheating. NFL recruitment has thoroughly corrupted colleges and the education of players across the country.
Why should anyone respect the NFL?