The NFL hasn’t been having a great time of it lately, PR-wise (though its TV viewership numbers seem not to have suffered): Now even non-fans know that Baltimore Raven Ray Rice was seen cold-cocking his fiancee and Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson allegedly beat his kid hard enough with a switch to raise welts.
As often happens when celebrities get negative publicity, we have heard opinions from several parties not intimate with these cases. Rightbloggers used the controversies to promote their pet cultural theories: For example, that it’s really liberals, not football players, who beat up women, and that the NFL, which is liberal like all corporations, is being Rice-baited into paying off feminists and sissies who, like liberal sportswriters, just want to ruin America’s Game for conservatives.
The most prominent conservative commentary on these cases has come from Rush Limbaugh, who you may remember attacked the NFL as liberal-biased when they wouldn’t let him buy a share of the St. Louis Rams in 2009. Limbaugh has so much yak on the subject (e.g., “The NFL Collides With the PC Media Culture“) that we could fill this column with it, but let’s not: The lesser rightbloggers are much more fun.
Many of the brethren were outraged that popular sportswriters did not immediately ask what the big deal was, but actually acted appalled. What ever happened to the shirtsleeved drunks of yore who would have shitcanned these stories but pronto?
When CBS sportscaster James Brown blamed childhood taunts like “You throw the ball like a girl” or “You’re a little sissy” for the hypermasculinity that sometimes leads to domestic violence, Ben Shapiro of FrontPageMag claimed this was ridiculous, and what would really stop such violence was two-parents-but-not-gay families.
“No man has ever hit a woman because she ‘throws like a girl,’ ” point-missed Shapiro. “But plenty of young men have hit women because they had no moral compass and did not believe in basic concepts of virtue — and plenty of young men lack such a moral compass and belief in virtue thanks to lack of male role models.” So Shapiro pleaded fatherhood, a cause he affected to believe is “unpopular.”
As for sissy-shaming, Shapiro found concern over that as absurd as concern over the Washington Redskins’ team name — or, as he was careful to put it, “that the name of the Washington Redskins matters far more to Native-Americans than the nearly half of Native-American youths who drop out of high school,” perhaps hoping this would defuse the issue the way “what about black-on-black crime?” defused the Michael Brown shooting, at least among a certain demographic.
Well, at least Brown didn’t get the treatment Michael Signorile got from NewsBusters, which headlined, “Breaking: Gay Liberal Radio Host Doesn’t Like NFL.” (Swish, and we don’t mean basketball!)
At National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy criticized “tendentious ‘sports journalists,’ the majority of whom are decidedly left of center, [who] are much less guarded about their hostility to conservatives than their fellow progressives on the political beat.” He gave exactly one example of this: ESPN allowed its own correspondent, Kate Fagan, to speak on the issue. (Fagan also writes for espnW, which McCarthy told us is “where the network focuses on women in sports and, seamlessly, on political and social matters that the Left has successfully branded ‘women’s issues.’ “)
Fagan, as the taped interview shows, said that the issue was bigger than Ray Rice, and that she wanted the NFL to “throw the kitchen sink at domestic violence,” which meant, in her opinion, going into schools and “talking to young men about dealing with anger about how they treat women: I think that’s where you’re going to see change…going into the school systems and the younger spaces and really reprogramming how we raise men.”
This McCarthy took to mean that “boys would be instructed that differentiating men from women breeds domestic violence,” and that was “how radical ideas — like the Left’s war on boys — get mainstreamed.” He proposed instead that we focus on “the breakdown of the family, the scorn heaped on chivalry, the disappearance of manners, and the general coarsening of our society that result from relentless progressive attacks on traditional values and institutions.” If only boys opened doors for girls again, there’d be no need for this reprogramming! (Other key phrases in McCarthy’s column: “the Obama Left’s agenda,” “ACORN,” “Al Sharpton’s National Action Network,” and “Alinsky-style community organizing.”)
Fagan wasn’t the only woman rightbloggers were mad at. When NOW President Terry O’Neill complained about the Rice incident, Larry Elder roared, “What about NOW’s indifference toward, if not acceptance of, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s sordid record of disgusting behavior toward women?” Also, what about Bill Clinton, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Wiley, Paula Jones, and Gennifer Flowers? How come their video footage didn’t make NOW mad? (For more of the same, see radio shouter Mark Levin.)
Disdaining Brown’s “wild attempt to connect the Ray Rice incident to a sexist culture in the NFL,” George Neumayr of the American Spectator said oh yeah what about Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who had recently spoken without incident at Yale University? “When someone like Hirsi Ali makes a far more serious case for violence against women grounded in Islamic tradition, the Left throws a fit,” said Neumayr. Why, those Muslims are almost as bad as Ted Kennedy.
“If women are the same as men, then how can they argue that a woman beaten by her boyfriend deserves special protection?” oh-shit-not-this-again’d Gina Loudon at WorldNetDaily. Loudon then argued that feminist doctrine — specifically that “there is no difference between men and women,” which we believe comes from Our Bodies, Ourselves — meant that “you can’t say that male abusers are more at fault than female abusers.” But “despite old feminists’ fantasies,” she added, “women and men are not the same. American women are waking up to that fact, and as the co-author of a new book, ‘What Women Really Want,’ ” etc., link to purchase provided.
At the New American, Selwyn Duke said oh yeah, what about Bill Clinton, Bob Filner, and Bob Packwood? Then, having run out of prominent Democrats to talk about, Duke posited that “it is liberal men — feminist-oriented men — who are most likely to abuse women.” See, churchgoing people tend to be Republicans, and in one study churchgoers self-reported less domestic abuse than non-churchgoers. Libs hate God, so case closed!
If you need more, Duke said, “just consider feminist dogma. Liberals assert that men will treat women better if we scrap antiquated ideas such as chivalry, thought to be condescending, and passionately embrace notions of equality, which, liberals insist, means teaching boys to treat the sexes the same. Let’s translate this: so we’re telling little boys to treat girls the way they would other boys. And how might that be?” Translation: Equality means you get to smack a bitch up.
“This should a true ‘duh’ moment,” added Duke. Indeed.
Some of the brethren saw in critics of off-the-field NFL violence evidence of what might be called Rice-baiting — that is, Rice-pimping the unfortunate incidents to generate cash for their Rice-related causes.
“THE LEFT PREPARES TO CASH IN ON RAY RICE,” cried Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.
“Whenever an institution becomes as massive as the NFL, the ideologically driven will attempt to enlist the institution for their own purposes,” Mirengoff went on. Along with the more obvious ideologues, “some corporate sponsors — Marriott Hotels, FedEx, PepsiCo and maybe others — have also gotten into the act,” not because they are, as recent history shows, PR-obsessed weasels, but because they “want to stay on the good side of liberal pressure groups like NOW….Corporate America is prone to roll over (up to a point) for liberal pressure groups. They do so in part because corporate America is, itself, liberal…” That explains all those diversity programs — and now they’re going to teach married people not to beat each other up! What is this, Russia?
At End of the American Dream, Michael Snyder went further: “the NFL has become a circus of political correctness,” he claimed. For example, “the NFL recently banned advertisements from ‘Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products.’ ” Why would they do that during a domestic violence controversy? Must be political! Worse, Snyder reported, NFL players wear pink accoutrements during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Soon they’ll be wearing bras and panties, like Billy Martin predicted!
The Rice issue had not cooled when the world discovered the welts on Peterson’s son, and suddenly we were hearing about the pros and cons of corporal punishment from amateur child-rearing experts across the country, including Sean Hannity, who said his old man beat him pretty good and he came out all right, which self-activating joke we’re sure you’ve already gotten.
The brethren seemed a little tired by the time the Peterson case came up, but some put in solid effort to extract conservative points from it, with predictable results.
“NFL Star Adrian Peterson Is Facing Serious Jail Time For Something Our Parents Did Every Day,” headlined Western Journalism (over photographs of the welts on the kid’s legs).
Douglas V. Gibbs talked at the Canada Free Press about how he got beat with a switch as a kid, and though he retroactively approved of that, his wife wouldn’t let him spank their own kids. Gibbs said the kids came out OK, though “I do believe their transition into adulthood would have been smoother had they been disciplined in a stronger manner as they were growing up.” (We wonder what his wife thinks of this, assuming she’s still around.)
However, Gibbs went on, “some people believe that any physical discipline, especially if an instrument is used, is abusive, and they have decided to force their view upon parents that do not agree with them…’If only,’ they must’ve been thinking, ‘if only we had a poster child, a high profile person to fry for his abusive disciplinary techniques, so that we can drive home the idea that whoopin’s are child abuse.'”
And then the Devil delivered unto them Adrian Peterson! “Remember, people like Hillary Clinton says [sic] that parents can’t be trusted with the raising of their children, and that it ‘takes a village to raise a child,’ ” claimed Gibbs. “They are foaming at the mouth with the good fortune of the Peterson story falling in their laps…They did it with Sandy Hook when it came to Gun Control, and they are doing it with Adrian Peterson…” Try and keep this stuff quiet, guys — admittedly, that’s tough to do with mass murder, but there are ways to hit kids that don’t leave marks.
At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw said the “dog pile on the NFL in general and Commissioner Roger Goodell in particular” was “not dissimilar to the general gang mentality which has so many broadcasters ready to pile on the police in every nook and cranny of the country in the wake of the Ferguson case.”
Jack Cashill at American Thinker also had a Ferguson angle: “For all its controlled violence, football provides young men, many of them from troubled homes, with all the discipline they will ever know,” he wrote. “Had Ferguson’s Michael Brown — all 6’4″, 295 pounds of him — grown up in a halfway functional household he would likely be alive and playing offensive tackle for some college today.” Probably would have gotten out of some traffic tickets as well, unless liberals have ruined that for us, too!
“This is all so wildly disproportionate,” sputtered National Review‘s Rich Lowry — he was talking about the negative reactions, we should make clear, not the writings of his fellow rightbloggers — “that perhaps something more than the usual ax-grinding, ratings chase, and group think is at work. It may be that these cases are ways to express a deeper discomfort with the NFL, which sacrifices men’s bodies and minds for our viewing pleasure every week.” And who might be expressing that discomfort? Maybe sissies — if we’re still allowed to use that noble word!
“The problem with this particular cultural conversation,” said Lowry’s colleague Nancy French, is “it’s hard to conduct it rationally while looking at the photos of a little boy’s legs. Peterson said he went overboard in his spanking that day. He didn’t do it right.” (Pro tip: Next time, try the rubber hose.) “Yet the Left demands that the Peterson case simply be the end of the question, the end of the spanking era.”
French supported this last assertion with a quote from an anti-spanking advocate whose authority to speak for the Left must have been voted when we were out of the room. (“The Left, of course, knows the art of spinning a tale,” she added; you have to admire her chutzpah.) But in rightblogger-world, nothing’s either good or bad, but its propaganda potential makes it so.
Let us close with Eric Golub of Communities Digital News, one of the rare defenders of NFL commissioner Goodell, whose job is jeopardized by these scandals. “Goodell is not being attacked for anything he has done or failed to do,” said Golub. “He is being attacked for his mere being.”
What Golub meant was that Goodell’s father was a Republican senator, and “Goodell is married to Jane Skinner, who used to be a widely respected on-air personality at Fox News. That sounds like a pretty Republican household.” By contrast, sportswriters are a bunch of commies (“NBC’s Bob Costas has also aggressively pushed gun control”).
Golub’s nut graf (in one sense, anyway) was this:
“The NFL makes plenty of money, just like Walmart and those oil companies liberals hate so much. The NFL is violent, which bothers the leftist peaceniks as much as they are bothered by gun manufacturers. It is male-dominated, which offends the radical feminists. It is pro-military and overtly pro-American, which the left derides as jingoistic. Commissioner Goodell is tall, handsome, white, male and married to a beautiful blonde wife. He also has perfect hair. He is everything the liberal media loathes.”
We tend to think of conspiracy theorists as nuts raving about chemtrails, but really — when you’re that deeply immersed in partisan politics, anything that happens can be part of one.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 21, 2014