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Soup of This Day #255: And Shed Some Light

October 12, 2012

O'Neill Butte, Grand Canyon
O’Neill Butte from Cedar Ridge in the Grand Canyon National Park. It’s important not to step into this controversial divide and sway. Or something – Photo: Danny M Santiago, 2012. Danny M Santiago is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

In previous posts I have explained that I have no particular affection for any 1 National Football League (NFL) team.

Stand by for a personal revelation.

Oladele Brendon Ayanbadejo is a linebacker who currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens. He was born in Chicago to a Nigerian father and an Irish-American mother and played his college football with the UCLA Bruins. His NFL career stuttered off the line in 1999 when training stints with Atlanta and Chicago came to naught and he turned to Canadian and Dutch football to tide his career over while he built up for another shot at the big time.

This duly came around and he made the most of it, parleying the opportunity into useful stints with Miami, Chicago and then Baltimore. Along the way he made the Pro-Bowl in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In the 1st and last of those years, 2006 and 2008, he made All-Pro, signifying his value at the peak of the NFL. He’s had a good career, been a useful player.

Oh, and he’s an advocate for same-sex marriage.

Not, as far as I can tell, in a militant way. Mostly he seems to have written some reasoned and moderate opinion pieces that espoused the view that people who are gay or lesbian should be allowed to marry.

These views are not universally held and certainly not by Maryland State Delegate Emmett C. Burns. Emmett took exception to Brendon airing his thoughts on the matter and wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. You can read the letter in its entirety here but to aid everyone in understanding Emmett’s standpoint I will now reprint it as part of this post, complete with my own explanatory text:

‘Dear Mr. Bisciotti:

As a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and a Baltimore Ravens Football fan, I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically, as a Raven Football player.’

Well Emmett he kind of did endorse same-sex marriage so the part where you find it inconceivable just says to me that maybe that word doesn’t mean what you think it does.

While we’re on the whole grammar bent, my apologies for not capitalising ‘same-sex’ – I think the general practice is not to do that for adjectives – For example, ‘Emmett wrote Bad English’ just makes it look like Emmett corresponded with 1980’s rockers Bad English, rather than Emmett just wrote poorly.

Which you did.

‘Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other.’

Are there non-controversial divides? I’m talking here about ideological divides rather than geographical 1s, like the Grand Canyon. Frankly any divide that can be bridged by a tightrope walker is not much for controversy.

Unless their shoes are clamped to the rope. I imagine that would generate some controversy in the tightrope walking community. Public opinion wouldn’t need much swaying on that methinks. Which is good because the last thing the tightrope walking fraternity wants is to be unnecessarily swayed, particularly mid-canyon.

To be honest Emmett I’ve kind of lost your point in that last bit so I’ll just adjust my balance bar and push on…

‘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.’

Super Bowl ads retail for pride, entertainment and excitement now. And $4m for 30s spots on CBS for Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Also strict excitement has the whiff of bondage around it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

‘I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.’

Unless of course he’s driving the entire fan base to the Grand Canyon, in which case he should steer as accurately as he can towards the provided parking areas.

‘I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.’

This does seem a little draconian with all of the inhibiting, ceasing and desisting – How about we compromise and just enable the parental controls on Ravens laptops?

‘I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayambadejo is doing.’

Ahh Emmett, I think we can assume that there’s a lot that you don’t know – Like how to spell Brendon Ayanbadejo’s name for instance. For argument’s sake though let’s go ahead and believe that you hadn’t noticed any other NFL player speaking up about same-sex marriage.

Can I introduce you to Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe?

Chris wrote a letter to respond to Emmett C. Burns’ missive re Brendon Ayanbadejo’s views on same-sex marriage. You can find it here at Deadspin and if you can abide some fruity language I think you’ll find that it does actually feature Chris speaking up about same-sex marriage.

And it absolutely owns Emmett C. Burns.

If you’re not a fan of the fruity language then check out Chris’ sanitised version here, replete with a justification for the fruitiness in the original. This version is worth reading just to see ‘Holy @#$%ing @#$%balls’ replaced with ‘DISAPPOINTED LEMUR FACE WITH SOLITARY TEAR TRICKLING DOWN TO CHIN’ and my favourite, ‘Mind@#$%ing obscenely’ become ‘SAD PUPPY DOG EYES.’

My only criticism of Chris’ defence of Brendon’s views is that much is made of the right to freedom of speech. I have a caveat based around the ‘free’ bit…

In One Day International cricket, if a bowler is called for a foot-fault no ball, the next delivery is designated as a ‘free hit’ for the batter. This means that you can’t be bowled or caught or given out LBW – You just get to swing for the fences. Which might make it sound like there are no consequences, that for that delivery you are truly free.

You’d be wrong.

You can get out as a result of a free hit. You can be run out if you fail to find those fences that you swung for and you end up pushing for 1 run too many. By extension you could also get your batting partner run out.

You could get hurt too.

If you don’t give the delivery the same due care that you would any other 1 then you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of a hard cricket ball striking you with some velocity. This will be painful. You could also hurt someone else, by carelessly smashing the ball straight at the bowler or at a close fielder like a silly mid-on.

For non-cricketing types a ‘silly mid-on’ is a fielding position located about 3 feet from the bat and a world of pain. The word ‘silly’ in this instance is part of the name of that position, rather than an adjective referring to it.

Although it would be a fairly appropriate to describe the position as just a bit silly. Or deranged. Or DISAPPOINTED LEMUR FACE WITH SOLITARY TEAR TRICKLING DOWN TO CHIN mad.

So the hit is not really free of consequence. It could be injurious even.

Free speech is a bit like that. There are consequences to speaking your mind and the things you say can be injurious. Does that mean that if someone bowls in a comment or opinion that is well wide of the mark that you should decline to play at the subsequent delivery?

Hell no.

You pad up, stand at the crease and give that ball what it deserves. And if you happen to be the fielding side you should address that hit on its merits. Try to run the batsmen out by all means but don’t argue that they don’t have the right to bat.

I’ve yet to hear an argument against same-sex marriage that addresses that hit on it’s merits. Reading Brendon Ayanbadejo’s reasoned comments it’s hard to see that there could be 1.

For me personally, I’m a heterosexual guy – I don’t know if any of my friends or family are lesbian, gay or bisexual. My ignorance in this is in part because I’m typically oblivious anyway but it’s also because I really don’t know if there are any fool-proof ways of detecting who somebody is attracted to – Although you could argue, ironically given this debate, that marrying someone is a strong indicator.

None of that matters. I will not love my friends or family any less if they are attracted to the same sex. They are humans and they have rights.

Emmett – Brendon Ayanbadejo was playing a classy innings defending those rights when you tried to take him out with a head-high beanball. Chris Kluwe took the subsequent free hit and pounded it over the fence for maximum runs.

The upshot of this is that I’m coming out. Specifically I’m coming out for same-sex marriage and I’m coming out for the Baltimore Ravens and the man they have refused to silence, Brendon Ayanbadejo.

I’ve found an NFL team to follow.

Oh, and I might just spare some cheers for Chris Kluwe – I hope his punts gain some seriously SAD PUPPY DOG EYES awesome hang-time.

And Shed Some Light

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