Category Archives: Speech

The Confusing Nature of the NFL Protests

You can learn a lot about people, organizations and government by how they respond when they are threatened or in a crisis.

Look at the National Football League (NFL), the professional American sports league, for instance. The commissioner’s office and the owners are caught between a rock and a hard place at the moment.

It’s all over the news today, but if you left on Planet Nine this weekend, here’s a summary of the situation.  Teams were confronted with how to react to comments by President Donald Trump last week. The Donald said that an owner should fire a player who kneels instead of stands when the national anthem is played. Mimicking what this owner should say, Trump shouted “Get that son of a bitch off the field.” He added his signature line from his reality TV days: “You’re fired!”

The original protest of kneeling while the anthem is played was originated by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a mixed race man who is now out of the league because his abilities are not worth the distraction caused by his presence. His view is that the anthem and flag represent a country that oppresses his fellow minorities and are therefore not worthy of respect.

Trump’s outburst exacerbated a situation that seemed to be dying down, fanning the flames anew and sending players into a tizzy. One team even held a four hour meeting on Saturday to decide what to do about the president’s statement.

The result on Sunday was varied, but suffice it to say that in every stadium players, owners and coaches all engaged in some form of protest. The commissioner and owners issued separate statements decrying Trump’s remarks.

After these protests the league made the announcement that there would be no punishment for those who engaged in protest while the national anthem is played. One of the things being reacted to on conservative talk radio is the fact that the NFL does indeed have a rule that states that the national anthem is to be played before each game and that players and coaches are to stand in allegiance to the flag of the United States. Suddenly, the rule doesn’t seem important.

One radio personality, while opposing the players actions, didn’t seem to think the rule was that important. “Rules schmules!,” he said.  Obviously, to the players their protest outweighed any rule that got in the way.

Why is this?Why is it that even the NFL administration threw out enforcement of the league’s  own rule when it was violated?  The answer is expediency. The Google dictionary’s definition of this term is “the quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral.”

The immediate answer to the pressure the league and owner’s faced over the Trump-caused brouhaha was of the knee jerk kind.  Already facing declining attendance and TV revenues over the league’s allowance of politics into their realm, NFL leadership decided to side with the players.

This seems wise over the short term given that over 3/4 of the players in the league are African-American and that the sports media that covers the NFL is primarily left wing and are thus proponents of social justice. Over the long term this could mean disaster, however.

One little piece of anecdotal evidence supports this. Jersey sales for one Pittsburgh Steelers player, a decorated military veteran, have gone through the roof after he made a point of defying his coach and coming out of the locker room to stand for the anthem.

There are a lot of issues involved in the protests of NFL players, so much so that it is unclear to me exactly what they are upset about. I have heard many reasons for their outcry, including opposition to alleged police brutality against blacks and the need for some ephemeral unity.

In such a situation as this, when the cause is not defined, the cultural battle lines can be blurred. Further adding to the fog is the disinformation campaign of those with a political agenda.

For example, those supporting the player protests over the racial issue have claimed that President Trump’s statement was racist, thus further inflaming emotions. The president has denied this, stating  that his remarks were about patriotism, and on the surface the words he used make no reference to race.

Everyone chooses (and perhaps even “cherry picks”) facts on which to formulate an argument.

Mr. Trump does it. The NFL players do it, too. So do media folks.

But what is important is the truth. What is the difference between facts and truth?

A post from the Focus on the Family offers a clear answer:

There is an important difference between facts and truth. In some ways it’s analogous to the difference between a pile of bricks and St. Paul’s cathedral, or between a list of dates and Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History… An isolated fact is like a stray piece of a puzzle. It’s an object, an article, a fragment of information, a bit of trivia. Truth, on the other hand, is all about meaning.

To put it another way, discerning truth is a matter of interpreting the facts. In a courtroom setting, the same facts are available to both prosecution and defense. Each attorney puts his own spin or construction upon the evidence, but this does not imply that both sides are right. There is still one truth.

Getting at the truth behind these protests will go along way in deciding if the NFL remains a major influence upon American culture. This is what those who care about the NFL need to get straight after the media moves on from the events of this weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Argument, culture, Donald Trump, Justice, Media, politics, Speech, Sports, Thinking, Uncategorized

Curses! Don’t be the source of them

Beetle Bailey

Monday morning I was sitting in my den, drowsily watching a replay of the NASCAR race from Kansas, when I was shocked from my stupor by images of the flaming number 10 car of Danica Patrick.

She got caught up in a fiery wreck with Joey Logano and Aric Almirola, the latter who plowed into them from 10 positions back. All three cars were engulfed in a brief inferno. Thankfully, today’s race car is built for safety and includes fire retardant material.

Patrick and Logano escaped injury, but Amirola had to be cut out his car and taken to the hospital. He suffered a broken vertebrae in his back, but wasn’t torched.

Repeated clips of the collision showed Logano clipping Danica from behind after his brakes failed, sending her into a spin which put her into the track wall.  Thus, the incident wasn’t her fault.

The only female driver in the Monster Cup series, Danica is always at the focal point of media attention. It doesn’t hurt that’s she’s “hot” either. (Not my words. Those of her boyfriend and fellow driver Rickey Stenhouse, although I agree. He also has said that she can cook.)

So of course the Fox Sports people talked Patrick afterward about the accident.

“I just don’t understand why so much bad luck happens,” she said.

Danica told her interviewer she couldn’t believe a brake rotor designed to withstand a lot of pressure could cause her demise. The rotor had broken on Logano’s car, causing him to lose control and smack her.

“Why?” she asked in dismay at her misfortune. “What else can I say?

“On the other hand, I was having a really good night and that’s what makes me the MOST mad…is that every time I’m doing better something STUPID happens. It’s just killing me.”

Patrick talked about her sense of foreboding over her repeated accidents on the NASCAR circuit.

After wishing Almirola well, she said, “One of these times one of these accidents is not going to go good for me. I’ve been very fortunate so far. One of these times it’s not going to go well.”

Danica wreck

Danica isn’t the only one worried about her future. Danny Peters of Frontstretch.com wonders if she is done.

“All told, Danica has no wins, no top-5’s, a measly six top-10 runs and just 57 laps led in 165 races across six seasons. Put another way, her results don’t match her level of equipment – not by any stretch of the imagination

“My overwhelming takeaway to what was, to be fair, a ‘heat of the moment’ response? This will be her last season.”

I hope Danica doesn’t quit. She’s still young for a NASCAR driver (age 35) and is fast. But if she believes she is cursed, maybe she will, or perhaps she will get fired because of her self-fulfilling prophecy about her “bad luck”.

I don’t know whether Danica is correct about her personal driver’s curse or not. Good men disagree on whether our troubles can be caused by God, the devil or other humans invoking doom upon us.

In the hit TV show “Frasier”, the series’ namesake and his fellow psychiatrist brother Niles have a discussion about whether or not “destiny” conspires against his success every time his high school reunion comes around.

Niles tells Frasier his concerns are “folderol”.  Frasier disagrees.

“Every time my reunion comes around it results in a severe downturn in my life,” says Frasier. He notes that his reunion has coincided with his being dumped at the altar, his divorce, and falling into a patch of poison ivy. Now that the reunion is again nigh, he is sure it was the cause of a recent job loss at the radio station where he hosted a call-in show.

Furthermore, Frasier believes he will not get a new job he will interview for in the next few minutes because of the reunion.

“How can you know that?” Niles asks.

“Because Destiny won’t allow it,” replies Niles.”I feel like I have a curse on my head.”

Niles seeks to reassure his brother and convince him of the folly of his position.

“Frasier, you are a man of science. You know curses don’t exist. There’s a perfectly rational explanation for all of this. You tripped and fell into poison ivy; your radio station changed formats; your wife didn’t love you.

“The only reason why you’re giving credence to this curse mumbo-jumbo is because you’re nervous about your job interview.”

Frasier's Curse

Niles tells his brother Frasier that his belief in a curse on him is “folderol”.

As a Christian, I am interested in my faith’s point of view on the existence of curses. But again, as Michael H. Brown indicates in his article “Are there Really Such Things as Curses: Can someone affect you by what they say or think?”, there is even disagreement among believers in Jesus:

“It’s a controversial aspect of Christianity. Some say they see no biblical basis for it. Others argue that there are repeated references to just such a thing from Genesis through the New Testament — not only from God, Who is often mentioned in the way of cursing sinful men, but also the curses of others. In Proverbs it says that a curse without cause can not have an effect but implies that there is indeed such a thing and that it can come from others.”

Where I think Brown may be on target is in his belief that we can afflict others with great evil even if we don’t mean to.

“Knowingly or unknowingly, we have all cursed others,” he says. “When we dislike someone, and worst of all, when we hate a person, it’s like throwing a spiritual dagger.

“And it can have physical results. In some cases people take sick (think of the term ‘ill will’), and often we find ourselves in frustrating bondages. No matter what we do, we can’t succeed. We can’t make ends meet. We can’t finish a job.We can’t succeed at school. We can’t find good relationships. We can’t reach peace in our families.”

Brown notes that the reversals people encounter are mostly due to the normal suffering of life, but he thinks “there are occasions when it’s because of ill will.”

“The fact that we can curse people without even knowing it is why we’re called to constantly control not only what we say, but what we THINK.”.

That’s a tall order. As someone who wants to use words to influence people for good, I know I need to do better at reigning in my speech towards others. I concur with one of Brown’s associates, a minister named Victoria, who says that “words are power.”

“When we call someone dumb or bad or ugly,we can be casting a real shadow on them,” she says.

Perhaps Frasier carried around such a cloud of condemnation with him due to his school days. He was known as the “Bryce Crier” and throughout the series it was clear he was bullied in school.

Charlie Brown dread

Yesterday as I viewed the blue/green ocean surf I cringed at the name calling I have engaged in during my own life.  I regretted my own ill will toward others, also.

In a time of prayer I asked God to forgive me and to take away my curses. What is more, I asked Him to negate the curses put forth against me.

I wanted to do something to symbolize my request and to demonstrate that I was serious about repenting of my loose tongue and heart. Therefore, I began to think how I could make a spiritual landmark at my spot on the shore.

Given that the place was rocky and had no trees or large boulders where I could leave permanent graffiti, I decided to do what tourists do: I took a souvenir. Instead of  seashell (there were none anyway), I picked up a rock that looked different than the rest.

IMG_20170518_144850111

My “memorial” stone

I am convinced there is spiritual evil at work today despite the dismissal of such things by so-called “modern” man, especially people in the secular media .

No, I don’t look for the devil behind every rock, I just don’t want to be the source of someone’s . Would that we all learn to keep our mouths shut and our emotions in check. The world might be a better place if we did.

         

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Leaders: watch your language

“Words give us power.”–Julia Cameron, author of “The Right to Write”

Unless we are born with a disability or become ill or are recipient of an injury after birth,we all have the ability to communicate, some better than others.  But even if we are not limited by a physical or mental condition, there are constraints on our expression.

For example, according to writing expert Julia Cameron, we are all born with a gift of language, but once we enter school we are limited by what we write and how we write it by our teachers. Students are confronted by academic conventions which they must obey. As a long-time instructor of writing at universities, I know too well how important these principles are. Violate them and you risk receiving a slap from the heavy hand of academic authorities.

The expectations of those who govern us also restrain communication.  In his book “The Death of Common Sense”, Philip K. Howard bemoans the tendency of those who write government regulations to attempt to cover every contingency regardless of the effect imposed on those having to implement them. In their effort to ensure certain outcomes, bureaucrats dispense with logic, a key feature of the effective transmission of ideas, at least in western societies like America

To illustrate this trend, Howard tells a story regarding Mother Teresa’s experience with the laws of New York City. The sainted lady wished to build a homeless shelter and was willing to put up half a million dollars to do so if the city would donate the building.

New York was very willing and the project seemed to be doable until  city building officials presented Mother Teresa with a requirement to include a $100,000 elevator on the premises, purportedly for safety reasons.  This regulation violated the beliefs of the Mother’s organization, which did not allow for the use of modern conveniences. The city wouldn’t budge on its rules even though the elevator would not be used. As a result, Mother Teresa politely declined to go further with the shelter and her desired good work turned to nothing because of the wording of a government fiat. Even though the verbiage flowed from the legal beagles, its effect prevented a good work: a shelter which would have housed 70 men who otherwise didn’t have a home.

Howard writes, “We seem to have achieved the worst of all possible worlds: a system of regulation that goes too far while it also does too little.This paradox is explained by the absence of the one indispensable ingredient of any successful human endeavor: use of judgment.”

Solomon, an ancient king, advised his readers in the biblical book of Proverbs to get good judgment. He particularly singled the effect of good judgment from leaders.  Solomon wrote that those leaders who have good judgment create stability but those who don’t leave a wasteland. America is becoming a huge brownfield because of a lack of discernment among its leaders in what they say and how they say it.

 

Rhetoric is out of control in the political arena. The president, for example, is known for his edgy comments and verbal attacks on enemies. He is known for his insults of political opponents during the last election and other inappropriate statements.

His adversaries, however, are also extreme in their statements and suffer not only from sins of commission, but also those of omission. Despite his election last November, political leaders and celebrities on the left refuse to see Donald Trump as legitimate and as a result produce personal insults not only toward him and his adult family members, but also his 10-year old son.

Further, some politicians are keeping their mouths shut over the violence perpetrated by left-wing extremists when they should be coming out against it. Long-time political reporter Brett Hume decries what he calls the intolerance of the left, especially in the media, the entertainment industry and on college campuses.  After condemning an obscenity-filled commentary against Trump by the politically left comedian Stephen Colbert on CBS as “unrepeatably vulgar”, Hume said that “restraints are being broken through as we go and it does make you wonder if we are on a slippery slope to real violence.”

In other words, the breakdown of honorable speech in our culture is leading us to a destructive hell. Use of  the spoken and written word should be artistic, enriching people’s lives. Instead, political charlatans are destroying our society through their hateful discourse.

By lowering the standards of civilized speech in our culture, these people are influencing even well meaning folks at the community level. A recent TV series focusing on youth football in Texas and Pennsylvania shows coaches verbally abusing the kids in their charge.  While the program “Friday Night Tykes” documents the difficult task these men have in trying to lead a generation of children away from drugs and gangs and into character building sports, it also led to the suspension of coaches due to their coarse language.

As Hume says, I believe these coaches have been influenced by their leaders, people who have let go of all restraint in their communication. After watching the hard work put in by these men despite the obstacles they face, I felt they were at heart good people. They deserve better role models as they seek to have a positive effect on the blighted towns in which they serve.

Julia Cameron discusses how our acquisition of words as children give us ownership. We treat them as gold and cherish them.

It seems our leaders have lost this sense of value when it comes to what comes out of their mouths or crosses their fingertips onto a computer. Would that they take ownership again of their words and benefit us all.

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Filed under Civility, Donald Trump, language, politics, Speech, United States