Saturday, September 8, 2012

Score A Big One For Equality & Civil Rights

Let me tell you a little bit about me and football.

When I was a little girl in Maryland, I liked baseball. I was a tomboy. The kids in my neighborhood would get together, usually in Mark's backyard (because it was big and flat), and play baseball. Or football. No coaches, no teams, just kids. When it was football, I was really good at tackling. I'm not sure what that position is called, but I was the one sent after whoever had the ball. I would take them down.  But it was baseball cards that I collected with joy. Soon, I began to collect football cards, too. But before I got very far, something happened. A man named Bob Irsay sold the beloved Baltimore Colts out from under us, the fans. They loaded up some Mayflower moving trucks and out sneaked the entire team, in the middle of the night. To this day, many Marylanders refuse to use the services of Mayflower Movers. I absorbed the atmosphere of betrayal, and swore of football forever. I wasn't that into yet, anyway.

As an adult, I've continued to not like football. Firstly, the games are long. One hour, divided into breaks and timeouts over four or five hours? I've got better things to do. Secondly, the games are noisy. I hate the sound of a television filled with the roaring crowd, commentators, bells, horns, whistles,... it just annoys me. Thirdly,  football is played by jocks. In my experience, most jocks are big and dumb, shallow, and close-minded. Not all of them, of course-- people are people, good and bad side by side in all walks of life. In that same vein, though, it has seemed to me that an inordinate number of football players are thugs, criminals, rapists, sexists, and the like. I know, I know, I'm making some seriously broad generalizations and stereotypes, here, but that is just how it has seemed to me over the years.

But this week, something wonderful has happened. Actually, two something wonderfuls:

  1. In response to a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in its favor. Then, Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote a letter that to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to "inhibit such expressions from your employee. Last week, Yahoo published that letter. 
  2. Now, we get to read this amaze-balls response that Minnesota Vikings's Chris Kluwe wrote in response, also published by Yahoo.
I applaud both these men for standing up for equality in public, particularly from within an industry that is wracked with homophobia, or, more accurately, homomisia.

But, why am I blogging about athletes and righteous behavior in the name of equality (as if that wasn't enough!)? Because Chris Kluwe has written a beautifully eloquent and biting letter! In this age of 140 character limits, netspeak/textspeak, and Jersey Shore level vocabularies, it is vitally refreshing to encounter such a thing as this letter. Bravo!

Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should "inhibit such expressions from your employees," more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

2. "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who's "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism").

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you'll start thinking about penis? "Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!" Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.

Chris Kluwe

P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

Chris Kluwe is a punter for the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter, @ChrisWarcraft.

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