Archive for September, 2012

Maryland State Delegate gets a smackdown for trying to silence NFL player who supports SSM

Posted on September 10, 2012. Filed under: Politics, Religion, Social Justice |

This story is totally funny.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has come out in public support of same sex marriage.  He even donated two tickets to a Ravens game for a fundraiser to support the group Marylanders for Marriage Equality.  This obviously ruffled the feathers of State Delegate Emmett Burns Jr.  (D- Baltimore County).

Burns decided that the best way to handle the “situation” was to write a letter to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, telling the owner to keep his players in line.  The letter can be found in it’s entirety here– an excerpt:

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.  I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.

Please give me your immediate response.

Since the Constitution is a federal document and not a state document, perhaps Mr. Burns could be forgiven for not bothering to familiarize himself with the First Amendment.  Perhaps, if he were not an African American preacher, he could be forgiven for not understanding the intersection of sport and civil rights.

It is alright though, because Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote a letter to Burns that explains those parts that seem so woefully opaque to the State Delegate.  Kluwe’s totally awesome letter can be read at this link.  A highlight:

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.

I’ll admit that the letter has a bit too much rhetorical flourish, but I think it expresses how I feel as well.

Sports are not just for “pride, entertainment and excitement”.  They are very much a reflection of the societies they entertain and mirrors to our culture.  The politics of sport have been the politics of our world.  Think of Jackie Robinson.  Think of Jesse Owens.  Tommy Smith and John Carlos.  Think of the IOC and their use of the Olympics as a political tool for change.  Hell, think of Tim Tebow.

Athletes have a right to speak their minds.  Athletes, as role models, would be wise to use their influence to change the world in which they live, the world that they will exit into once their star has dimmed, the world that they will leave to their children and fellow countrymen.  What kind of “role model” stays silent in the face of what needs changing-  who just shuts up and knows his place?

It all ended up working out in the end.  Burns has since thought the better of his letter.  Let’s hope that Brendon Ayanbadejo makes people think better in November.



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