Ed Driscoll

How's That Era of New Civility Working Out?

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

It didn’t take long for bloggers and political aficionados to draw a connection between Sarah Palin and the shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona, a tragic incident that resulted in six deaths, including that of a federal judge, and at least 12 wounded, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Several outlets like The Trentonian pointed out that Congresswoman Giffords was one of the 20 Democratic candidates Sarah Palin “targeted” for removal from office for their support of the Health Care Reform Bill. Palin had named Giffords and others for political elimination in the 2010 midterm elections, drawing cross-hairs on a map of the United States over the districts of the “targeted” candidates. It was that graphic map and the violent rhetoric Sarah Palin has been wont to use that drew the greatest condemnation and insinuations after the Tucson shooting.

“Sarah Palin ‘Targeting’ Blamed for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Tucson Shootings: Many Were Quick to Draw a Connection Between the Sarah Palin’s ‘Target’ Graphic and the Shooting Incident in Tucson,” Yahoo.com, January 8, 2011.

NFL “experts” appear to be picking the San Francisco 49ers over the Green Bay Packers by about the same margin they’d likely back Mike Tyson in the ring against, say, George W. Bush.

“Packers vs. 49ers: Upset Alert Blares Across Frigid Wisconsin,” Yahoo, today.

If Yahoo is going delve into magical thinking, and believe that mere clip art can cause random acts violence, imagine what actual words could lead to? Almost six years after he left office, why is Yahoo still promoting the notion of violence being committed against former. President Bush?

And in other news from the ongoing politicization of the NFL, why does ex-Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe want to see his former coach permanently barred from employment in professional sports?

“If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story,” Kluwe writes, “it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. (According to the Pioneer Press, he is ‘the only in-house candidate with a chance’ at the head-coaching job.) It’s inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else.”

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Kluwe trashes his former coach Leslie Frazier and Vikings GM Rick Spielman as cowards, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as a “bigot.” Priefer denied specific allegations outlined by Kluwe (e.g., the coach wished to drop a nuclear bomb on homosexuals). He notes that the team’s owner took him aside to congratulate him on his public stance and that the Vikings PR staff handled non-football related media requests for him, albeit in a manner he judged inadequate. A specific point of outrage centers around the team’s efforts to compel the outspoken gay-rights advocate to focus on football.

“To me, it’s getting old,” Kluwe reports coach Priefer as telling the press. “He’s got to focus on punting and holding.” Throughout the piece, Kluwe argues that Priefer tried to silence him but instead convinces that the special teams coach had a point about wanting Kluwe to concentrate on football. Kluwe talks about adhering a message of support for punter Ray Guy’s Hall of Fame bid upon his uniform in violation of NFL rules, tweeting out nasty messages aimed toward Pope Benedict upon his retirement, writing op-eds and letters in support of same-sex marriage, playing in a rock band during off hours, and, at the conclusion of the article, referencing the book he published after last season. By including so many tertiary matters in the piece, Kluwe unwittingly paints himself as the scatterbrain Priefer sought to reorient toward the gridiron.

Had Kluwe punted like Ray Guy, instead of merely talked about Ray Guy, he might have a point. As it turns out, Chris Kluwe ranks as a mediocre NFL punter. Twenty-one other punters boasted a higher yards-per-punt average last season, with the average net yardage gain during his punts surpassed by sixteen other specialists, most of whom didn’t enjoy climate-controlled conditions in their home games as Kluwe did.

To paraphrase Laura Ingraham, shut up and play (sans pink shoes in October); sports should be an escape from politics, not an extension of them.