As you probably know by now, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe recently published a piece on Deadspin that has sparked quite a bit of discussion due to its “controversial” nature. The article has generated a maelstrom of opinions, and some people would like to claim that when it comes to a divisive topic all opinions, takes, and interpretations are of equal value. That’s ludicrous. Deep down we all know that certain opinions, due to being so inane and misinformed, deserve to be quarantined on an island, and that island should then be nuked until it glows.
Thanks to daily trawling of the comment section of NBC’s Pro Football Talk, we’ve compiled some of the most idiotic, pathetic, and illogical arguments being used to discredit Kluwe. Our list certainly isn’t comprehensive, but it paints a good picture of the types of moronic responses Kluwe’s claims have generated.
In no particular order:
1) Why should we believe what he says!? There are probably self-serving interests behind these allegations! And by allegations I mean lies!
To all the responders in this camp, let’s set up a hypothetical situation. Let’s say that Kluwe indeed wrote his piece in hopes the attention it generated would land him a writing gig (probably at some evil Liberal Media establishment encouraging scary things like Tolerance and Open-mindedness). Now, let’s say it eventually comes out that Kluwe, inspired by A Million Little Pieces, made the whole situation up. Imagine the backlash he’d receive. Do you think he’d be allowed to keep his new writing job? That’s doubtful. His reputation would be tarnished beyond repair.
That said, there is really no logical reason Kluwe would lie about what occurred when he was on the Vikings. This risk of his lies being discovered and the ensuing fallout far outweigh both whatever fleeting pleasure he’s felt from eviscerating his former employer and whatever opportunities his letter could theoretically afford him. Does this guarantee Kluwe is telling the truth? No, it doesn’t. But it sure makes the whole it’s-all-lies interpretation of events rather flimsy.
2) He’s just bitter about being cut and wants revenge!
Trashing your ex-boss in a public forum is an action that should be decided after much careful consideration, and it doesn’t make sense that Kluwe would act improvidently. The article says he waited a full year before publishing it — more on that later — so it’s unlikely his decision to take his story public was a heat-of-the-moment fit of pseudo-vengeance. Kluwe acknowledges in the piece that he’s aware of the bridges he’s burning by leveling these accusations against Priefer, Spielman, and Frazier. That sure doesn’t sound like the irrational actions of an ex-employee spontaneously deciding to attack his former place of work.
3) B-b-b-but he he said he doesn’t want Priefer to be a coach in the NFL!
So? Go to any sports blog. Pick any. Chances are you’ll find posts — either in the form of level-headed statistical analysis or in the form of fans ranting about their struggling favorite teams — calling for coaches to be fired. How much do you think these opinions impact owner’s and manger’s decisions? Kluwe even calls Priefer a good coach! That tends to get glossed over by the he’s-out-to-ruin-Priefer brigade. Kluwe’s opinions about Priefer may impact Priefer’s employment, or they may not. But what needs to be kept in perspective is that they are Kluwe’s opinions, not the opinions of the guys who write the checks. There are plenty of NFL employees, from players to coaches, with lackluster reputations, and their off-the-field flaws, transgressions, and (even multiple) arrests don’t keep them from being employed in the league. Kluwe has every right to speak his mind about his former coach and to suggest that coach has problematic personal views towards the gay community, but Priefer’s future employment isn’t something Kluwe actually has control over.
4) Calling someone a bigot and a homophobe is hate speech! Isn’t Kluwe a hypocrite?
Uh, no. See, there’s this distinction between name-calling and using language that reflects and reinforces the mistreatment of a group of people. If you want to say Kluwe insulted Priefer and the others, that’s fine. Kluwe did indeed say some unflattering things about them. But the labels used by Kluwe are in no way analogous to the speech allegedly used by Priefer. The last time I checked, people sharing Priefer’s alleged views don’t comprise a segment of the population that is routinely mocked, degraded, and physically threatened. When students are given an assignment they don’t like by a teacher, they don’t post on Twitter about how the assignment is “hella bigoted.” (Go check out Priefer’s son’s Twitter feed to see which word is used.) “Homophobe panic” isn’t used as a crutch in comedy movies, turning homophobes into conduits for cheap laughs, but gay panic is pretty damn common. Calling out someone for having hateful views isn’t “intolerant,” and to suggest that it is displays a level of disconnect from reality that would be funny if it wasn’t so appalling.
(In connection: Yes, people are allowed to “express their personal views.” Nobody is stopping you personally from saying, for example, that you hate gay people. Like, you can physically vocalize the sounds needed to make that statement aloud; nobody is ripping out your tongue or covering up your mouth. But guess what? People are also allowed to respond to your statement, and some people might take umbrage with your opinion. You can say you’re right, and other people can say you’re wrong. The responders are allowed to give their opinion on your opinion just as you in the first place were allowed to state that opinion. That’s fair, isn’t it? Or is “free speech” only a concern of yours when people with bigoted and hateful views that you happen to share are called out for being hateful bigots?)
5) I don’t care what someone’s sexual preference is. This is a non-story. (Variant: I don’t hate gay people, but I hate how the media always makes these stories one-sided.)
Congratulations, you are part of the problem. Your need to bury your head in the sand and ignore how others are mistreated doesn’t allow you to be “removed from” or “above” the debate. All it means is that you’re tacitly allowing hurtful and dangerous attitudes to persist in society, and “I’m not a homophobe, I just don’t care” is not some enlightened position. It’s a goddamn excuse, and a sad one at that.
6) Employees should always obey their bosses. Kluwe shouldn’t have tried to act against the wishes of his employer. That’s just not how we do things in the American business world.
Actually, this is a pretty fair argument. I mean, there are absolutely no situations in which a boss or an employer is ever wrong. They are job creators and therefore pure of motive! Personally, I’m thankful we live in a society where we’ve mastered the capitalist business model to the point where it no longer causes any issues, either here or abroad. If there’s one thing I learned in Business 101, it’s that the corporate hierarchy is a flawless system that only acts as a force for good in the world. So kudos to you folks arguing No. 6. You’ve stumped us there.
7) Why didn’t Kluwe go public with this last year? Doesn’t that discredit his “activist” persona?
Wouldn’t you know, he actually addresses this exact issue in the piece itself. But please, don’t let reading comprehension interfere with your urge to criticize.
8) Kluwe wasn’t even that good of a punter!
Again, reread the piece. Not only does Kluwe acknowledge his struggles on the field — along with providing the interesting justification that he was instructed to kick punts higher, thereby decreasing his net distance — but he also highlights the salary issue people are waving about as an argument-stopping fact. Yes, it’s fair to say that it was in the best financial interest of the Minnesota franchise to cut Kluwe and replace him with someone cheaper, but that analysis ignores an entire major point of the piece. Yes, the piece is “about” Kluwe being cut from the team because that’s the story through which Kluwe can relate the events. It’s a personal story, sure, but the framework of here-is-why-I-think-I-was-cut is not what’s really important. What’s important is the idea of censorship in the NFL and how people looking to express views outside “the norm” are silenced and/or blackballed. It’s about normalized bigotry obfuscated by a supposedly apolitical work environment, and it’s about what happens when the folks controlling the system decide someone’s opinions are rocking the boat. It’s less a piece about Chris Kluwe, former NFL player, and more a piece about the culture of the NFL and the problems inherent to it. Citing Kluwe’s punting statistics isn’t worthless, and it’s certain that his middling performance factored into the team’s decision to cut him, but fixating on that one point misses the broader implications of what Kluwe is saying. Kluwe does indeed say that he doesn’t think “the NFL has a problem with institutionalized homophobia,” but that doesn’t mean the NFL, as a whole, creates a safe environment for self-expression, especially when that expression can be seen as divisive.
9) There a bigger issues than this! Kluwe is being selfish by taking attention away from those issues!
First off, Kluwe isn’t “taking attention” away from anything. Attention is dictated by viewers, not content creators, and if you feel somehow upset that a piece about an activist punter trying to navigate NFL culture didn’t address so-called Bigger Issues, then that’s on you for reading a piece about an activist trying to navigate NFL culture. The derailment tactic of pointing at other social issues is a great (and unfortunately effective) way to ensure that the status-quo remains untouched. If you care so deeply about issues of greater importance, then you are by all means free to pen your own letter, volunteer your time, and/or work to educate others.
10) This column by Jay Mariotti
Okay, so this didn’t appear in the PFT comment section, but it’s somehow even more wrongheaded. Shall we take a look at some of Mariotti’s brilliant analysis?
- According to Mariotti, Deadspin committed a sin by posting Kluwe’s piece on “the first working day of the new year” in order to “earn them some digital traffic.” You’re damn right, Mariotti. How dare a media outlet publish something not in the dead of night on a Saturday! What, do they want people to actually read their material?! How greedy and unethical of them! News sites should only update during times when there are few potential readers. Then you know for sure the sites don’t have an agenda!
- According to Mariotti, the fact that current Minnesota players/members of the team’s brass have come out in support of Priefer indicates that Kluwe is lying. You know, because there’s no logical reason why athletes fighting to keep their jobs in a competitive work environment might come out in support of the organization and the people in charge of keeping said athletes employed. Nope, no way there could be a conflict of interest there. Also, genius move on Mariotti’s part quoting a press release from the Vikings denying Kluwe’s allegations. Press releases and other such statements to the media are generally known for being honest and forthright.
- According to Mariotti, Deadspin editors “crave traffic like heroin.” (They are also “trashy” and “disenfranchised stoners.”) Yep, the editors’ desires to have a popular site read by millions of people is totally the same thing as a drug user succumbing to a dangerous addiction. Mariotti’s simile is in no way, shape, or form a disgusting and inappropriate misrepresentation of drug addiction, and the ease with which he equates common workplace desires with a mental health problem definitely doesn’t come across as disgusting and intellectually shameful. (The second to last paragraph also contains a reference to how Kluwe “got high on the attention from social media.” Man, is there any situation Mariotti can’t relate to drugs and the pathetic scum who use them?)
- According to Mariotti, Kluwe was cut purely because he was a lackluster punter, and all of his (Kluwe’s) allegations are nothing more than selfish cries for attention. Also, since there is no “proof,” it is very likely those allegations are nothing more than lies. To top it off, Kluwe should not have “[ripped] the sports system that made him wealthy.” Gee, where have we seen all those stupid arguments before? Really, it seems like the only difference between Mariotti’s opinion and the opinions from the PFT commentariat is that Mariotti is capable of spelling basic words correctly, and he gets paid to spout his ignorance.
Do you have an opinion you want to share that isn’t in the above list? Let your voice be heard in the comment section. Who knows, maybe your comment will be the inspiration for our next feature!