NFL Owners To Force Players To Stand

The National Football League has decided that it will fine players who protest police violence during pre-game playing of the National Anthem. The just-announced policy will see teams fined if players do not stand for the entirety of the National Anthem. The policy allows players to remain in the locker room, rather than being on the field, as had been previously required.

Roger Goodell, the league’s Commissioner, said the following:

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem…Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.”

There is absolutely no confusing what “shall stand and show respect” is intended to mean. Protest critics – including Donald Trump – repeatedly alleged that players protesting police violence were disrespecting the National Anthem itself by taking a knee during it. (Many of those same critics did not object to displays like these; some protests are more equal than others, apparently.) This was always hogwash designed specifically to take attention away from the claims being made by the players: that some Americans are policed very differently than other Americans.

The protests themselves were begun (within football at least) by Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick, who had previously lead his team to an unexpected Super Bowl appearance in 2013, and who remained one of the league’s better quarterbacks, began taking a knee to protest racism and police brutality during the 2016 season. Conservative white commentators, including Trump, raged at the quarterback, but the protests themselves eventually spread, with other players throughout the league similarly protesting what they saw as policing’s unjust treatment of minority populations. But despite being right on the issue – the numbers clearly, and repeatedly, show that minority populations are treated very differently than white populations –  Kaepernick was eventually let go by the team and has since been blackballed by the league, with various teams voluntarily signing objectively worse quarterbacks than risking any backlash from bringing Kaepernick onto the team. Kaepernick has sued and depositions are underway. Other players who have also protested have been similarly blackballed. Most notable among them is Eric Reid.

Kaepernick’s protests, and the NFL’s response, is part of America’s ongoing and neverending culture war, one which sees older generations demanding to have the world as they want it, everybody else be damned. That the NFL would go along for this ride speaks volumes about where it sees its own loyalties, as it apparently believes that placating angry, older, conservative, white consumers is of higher importance than anything else, including its players. That attitude isn’t entirely unheard of, given that the NFL’s regard for its players is laughably, and consistently, evil. But that is football: a game of predominantly black athletes coached by predominantly white coaches owned by primarily white ownership, catering to a generally white fanbase. That white fanbase is the issue, as many white fans appeared to walk away from the game in the cultural tumult of the last year. The NFL is betting that these older white fans will return, and stick around, just as soon as they are not asked to briefly come to grips with the fact that policing is very different for the players on the field than it is for the coaches on the sidelines, the owners in the boxes, or even, god forbid, the out-of-shape 60-year olds watching from their recliners.

The NFL’s new rules go into effect this coming season.


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160 thoughts on “NFL Owners To Force Players To Stand

  1. No one is surprised by this, are they? The surprising thing is that it took this long.

    Our man @mike_schilling has it exactly right: if we were better human beings we’d boycott the NFL. But we like their product so damn much we aren’t going to.

    As a result, for the foreseeable future the NFL will be a trailing indicator of the cultural zeitgeist. A long-trailing indicator.

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    • Yeah not surprising at all. However they have the option of staying in the locker room which, i’m guessing, will become a second order protest. Sports talk, or politics talk, may jump all over every one who doesn’t come out. Sure the locker room takes the “offenders” out of the public sight but it may not actually solve this. Especially if there is high profile questionable shooting that goes national or in one of the NFL cities so it’s big local issue. I can imagine the spittle flecking if half the team stays in the locker room.

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      • However they have the option of staying in the locker room which, i’m guessing, will become a second order protest.

        Staying in the locker room would be giving up paychecks.

        It’d be a MASSIVE show of support… and I seriously doubt we’ll see it.

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        • Staying in the locker room would be giving up paychecks.

          Staying in the locker room during the anthem, not the whole game.

          Which was, in fact, how the NFL operated prior to 2001-ish. A fact that, I am sure, will somehow never make it known to who will then complain about the “disrespect” those athletes are showing by not coming out for the national anthem.

          Which, as long as we’re talking about it, is an objectively awful song and should be replaced.

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          • Which was, in fact, how the NFL operated prior to 2001-ish.

            Common practice prior to about 2009-ish, when the Army and National Guard began paying the NFL owners to do more patriotic openings with honor guards, and to do those openings after the teams came on the field (which, as I understand the contracts, is when the TV networks are required to start broadcasting what’s happening on the field).

            Last time I was at an NFL game, ~20% of the seats around me were empty while the anthem played, with people making last-minute restroom breaks and beer runs. Haven’t heard any complaints about that.

            NCAA-approved bowl games are still conducted the old way: patriotic display first with players in the locker room/tunnel, then players take the field.

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            • Common practice prior to about 2009-ish, when the Army and National Guard began paying the NFL owners to do more patriotic openings…

              The absence of this context in most conversations about the issue drives me crazy. It seems silly to get bent out of shape about protests of what is a paid commercial, not spontaneous acts of patriotism or adherence to a tradition. But then, issue of police violence aside, you also have to kind of wonder about how iconoclastic it actually is to direct protest at a paid commercial.

              Somewhere there’s an overlooked lesson about the incorporation of higher ideals into crass marketing gimmicks and a bloated defense budget but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Too bad Tom Wolfe is dead because it seems like there might be a good story there.

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    • I’m not surprised. If anything Mike is right and wrong. Conservative fans seem like they were more likely to stop watching football and boycott over this issue.

      I’m obviously the not-sports guy here but there are plenty of liberal sports fans. LGM goes crazy for sports and has open threads weekly or nearly weekly. But the NFL (maybe more than less than other sports) sees their main fans as being white, conservative, and male. The rest of the fans will watch regardless.

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      • It is not that they see the fans as being “white, conservative, and male”, it is that the fans are conservative. And for conservatives, this is one thing you. just. don’t. do.

        The NFL f’ed up when they let any politics in the door, and that especially includes the national anthem to start with.

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        • I find it interesting that both sports racing and monster trucks having a slight Democratic skew, same with a lot of the combat sports. Most of the skews make sense on in intuitive level. WNBA having a heavy Democratic skew because it involves women and people of color isn’t that surprising. That horse racing or monster trucks have a slight Democratic view is counter-intuitive.

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          • Yeah, most of it makes intuitive sense, but there are a few like you mentioned. The one that always catches me is college basketball, I thought that would be more on the line. Moster trucks is just weird. Horse racing I figure snowbirds in Florida.

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              • There is also a heavy theatrical element to many of the combat sports. Your not watching two people fight, your watching two characters with distinctly cultivated personas fight. In WWE, you even have some very colorful costumes. The theatrical elements could explain some of the Democratic skew because people who like it will be weird positive.

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                • Monster Jam is monster trucks but I agree. The biggest wrestling fan I know (who in his free time actually calls lower tier matches) runs a local theater company. Not that there’s no such thing as a conservative actor but the field generally leans left.

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          • That horse racing or monster trucks have a slight Democratic view is counter-intuitive.

            That seems like a good reason to step back and ask, “from where exactly did your intuitions come from and how did you end up acquiring them?”

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        • Well, except that for conservative fans, doing things like jeering DURING the anthem is fine, just so long as you’re jeering at black players. This never had anything to do with the anthem. It had to do with conservative white fans wanting black players to shut up. And that’s before we get to the idea that the National Anthem isn’t political, which is of course a ridiculous claim to implicitly make.

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        • …I don’t understand that graph. It appears to show that the WNBA’s audience is made up of 120% Democrats. So, I guess that’s not a percentage, but I have no idea what it actually is.

          Meanwhile, you presented it as if it shows that the NFL skews conservative, but it…doesn’t.

          I mean, it does technically, but only by like 10 whatevers. And ’10’ is, at most, 1/14th or so how much a sport _can_ skew, so it clearly isn’t skewing a whole lot.

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          • It appears to show that the WNBA’s audience is made up of 120% Democrats.

            They aren’t merely fans. They don’t give just give it 110%. They give it 120% Well, most of them do. There are a few slackers just giving 110%, but they are made up for by the ultrafans giving it 130%.

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    • Our man @mike_schilling has it exactly right: if we were better human beings we’d boycott the NFL. But we like their product so damn much we aren’t going to.

      I was doing pretty well in this regard until the Eagles went and won the Superbowl. Curse you Nick Foles for being good enough!

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  2. Hey, if they got rid of Tebow because he sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, they pretty much *HAD* to get rid of Kaep.

    If they got rid of Kaep, they had to get rid of the kneeling during the national anthem.

    YOU ALL LAUGHED WHEN I SAID GETTING RID OF TEBOW WAS A MISTAKE! WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?!?!?!?

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  3. Politics and social implications aside for a moment, the NFL has just handled this whole thing horribly, and this is a perfect example. Long after the fact, and with it mostly being a forgotten issue, they make sure that not only will it be revived, but made it worse. Already the Chairman for the Jets has came out and said he will be paying any fines the players get. The NFL is all but daring those that are protest minded to defy them, which they will. Self inflicted wound that will now dominate media coverage of the start of each game.

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    • Already the Chairman for the Jets has came out and said he will be paying any fines the players get.

      The players won’t get fined. The new rule punishes teams (ie, owners). The things for which players can be disciplined are spelled out in the NFLPA’s agreement with the League. Additions to that list require the NFLPA to agree to the changes. I expect the NFLPA’s position the next time the agreement is up for review will be for teams to stay in the locker rooms while the anthem is played (the standard arrangement ten years ago, before the military started buying patriotic displays on national TV).

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  4. Meh..

    It’s a private organization that handle it how they please. I’d expect the union to push back, at minimum, during re-negotiations, but otherwise, I don’t think much will come of it.

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  5. Hearing from players asking why the league felt a need to address anthem protocol when only a handful of guys were kneeling by the end of last season. In a word: fear. In two words: Donald Trump. They did not want him using their brand as a “weapon” during midterms, one said.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) May 23, 2018

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    • And they’re making no adjustment at all for things like murder rate and just looking at raw numbers, and they’re coming very close to using Ferguson’s Mike Brown as a poster child.

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      • Yeah, this is the stuff that makes Vox Vox. They’ll remember to apply any reasonable statistical technique that will make the numbers fit better with their point, but forget every equally reasonable effort that would break against their position.

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        • They shouldn’t do that.

          Misuse of data wrecks good arguments. In the back of my head a voice whispers they need to use Mike Brown as a poster child then they don’t really have an argument.

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      • And they’re making no adjustment at all for things like murder rate…

        Why exactly should there be an adjustment for the murder rate? Why should “things like murder rate” be a factor in how police interact with different individuals?

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        • Why should “things like murder rate” be a factor in how police interact with different individuals?

          Assume we replace all police with robots who treat everyone with exactly the same indifference. Them treating everyone the same doesn’t change that getting into gun battles with violent criminals will still be a thing.

          So Mike Brown would still be dead from violently resisting arrest, which means his name on that list is more than a little awkward.

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          • OK, but none of that has anything to do with the murder rate. Cops aren’t shooting murderers (for the most part); they’re shooting people who get into confrontations with the police.

            Maybe there is some reason that murder rate should be a proxy for certain kinds of interactions with police, but I’m not seeing it.

            ps – Maybe this is contentious, but police should not be shooting people for “violently resisting arrest.” They should only be using deadly force when protecting their own life or the life of someone else. Resisting arrest has yet to be made a capital offense.

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            • I think the nature of the crime for which the person is being arrested suggests something about his relative violence. For clarity: I’m not saying that the nature of the crime excuses police violence. An officer should handle an arrest as peaceably as possible. But to the extent that a group is over-represented in violent crime, it would be reasonable to expect a posteriori that that group would have a higher rate of violent arrests.

              To the postscript, “violently resisting arrest” seems like a continuum, from struggling to shootouts. Obviously, the proper response varies.

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            • police should not be shooting people for “violently resisting arrest.” They should only be using deadly force when protecting their own life or the life of someone else.

              1) There is a limited amount of violence that can be present in the former before we end up with the latter. The former also tends to result in both sides escalating.

              2) Violently resisting arrest is rolling the dice even if it doesn’t escalate to deliberate termination. Eric Garner wasn’t supposed to die.

              Maybe there is some reason that murder rate should be a proxy for certain kinds of interactions with police, but I’m not seeing it.

              The best way to measure “cultural acceptance and embrace of deadly violence” (or whatever we want to call it) is probably counting killed-by-violence corpses.

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            • Although I suspect you know better, you know the issue is police doing things like this to some people but not to others.

              If memory serves our best data (i.e. that Harvard Econ guy’s evaluation which he did to prove BLM was right) shows we have racial disparity with police brutality but the data lines up with police viewing killing someone as a life changing event (for themselves) which should be avoided and adjusted for situation whites are over represented when we count corpses. His take on that last was presumably police incompetence is worse away from the big cities.

              Which means our “killed unjustly by police” issue becomes one of general incompetence and general trigger happiness… greatly compounded by “adjusted for situation” which is where the bulk of the inequality is.

              Big picture, imho if we’re interested in reducing the number of corpses then focusing on the WoD, how the police handle mental illness, and general incompetence seems like the course of action most likely to actually work. Also big picture, police-interaction disparity short of death seems to be a different issue than the corpses on the ground.

              Mass shooters get the kids glove treatment if they’re white, whereas black kids in the park playing with a toy gun get gunned down within seconds.

              Cherry picking. For the first, having selected for a horrible person we have a normal roll of the dice. For the second, having selected for a horrible outcome we have a horrible outcome.

              If the police are running around executing children because they’re black, then the obvious solution is to confront racism in the police force. However if that’s not the problem then pretending it is leads to misdirected solutions that can’t work. For example if the police already, out of self interest, don’t want to pull the trigger… then trying to convince them that they shouldn’t be pulling the trigger won’t reduce anything.

              Clearing away incompetence probably saves Tamara Rice but Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and a host of others still end up dying because their issues with inequality started a LONG time before the day they died.

              The police are charged with cleaning up and/or enforcing society’s mistakes and bad policy. Granted, Tamara Rice was an unforced error created by police themselves via incompetence, but Brown and Garner were created by society with the cops just the messenger. And IMHO there’s also a strong argument that the likes of Rice would benefit a lot by reducing the level of violence in society in general.

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  6. You know, I’ve long felt that if we really cared about respecting the flag, we wouldn’t use it on clothing or in newspaper ads, or decorations for auto dealerships.

    Today I find that former NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels shares my feelings.

    (I apologize for linking to RawStory. I don’t like how hyperbolic they are. I couldn’t find another link to that tweet, and I am not a good enough Twitter maven to do it myself.)

    So flag disrespect is fine as long as you’re making money from it. That’s how it seems to me.

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      • We have a group of millionaires “protesting” something in a way that doesn’t cost them money.

        The Protest isn’t serious. The “suffering” generated by the “Protest” isn’t serious. Trump isn’t serious, he’s just creating Drama because he needs a distraction. No one here is serious or should be taken seriously.

        The NFL should order the cameras averted from the “protest” and otherwise ignore it.

        Now having said that, I started ignoring football as non-serious decades ago so I have no dog in the race.

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          • At risk of starting a debate thats already been had Kaepernick was, at best, a marginal starter prior to being out of the league. He also voluntarily opted out of his $120+ million dollar contract in SF ($60 mil guaranteed). That was in a situation where the QB competition was weak and there was a favorable new coaching staff.

            Not saying his protest isn’t part of it, it definitely is. But to ‘s point Kaepernick did get $40 mil of that deal plus whatever he got under his rookie contract as a rd 2 pick. Managing his money properly he’s definitely set for life.

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              • I discussed my view on this at length last time we talked about the Kaepernick situation.

                The tl;dr version is there are a bunch of factors leading to his unemployment in the NFL of which the protest is but one. It might be the proverbial straw breaking the camels back but I also think there’s a real question of whether he wants to play for what might realistically be offered.

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                • It might be the proverbial straw breaking the camels back but I also think there’s a real question of whether he wants to play for what might realistically be offered.

                  Let me make a dark and cynical guess: Him getting “kicked out for his ethics” raises his profile enough that getting a post-football celebrity gig becomes a possibility?

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                  • How cynical it is will depend on what he does. If he left to become a full time activist or get into politics I’d see nothing not to respect about that. It wouldn’t be unheard of. If he turned it into a show on MSNBC or something I’d probably roll my eyes but whatever. Free country and all that.

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                    • If he left to become a full time activist or get into politics I’d see nothing not to respect about that.

                      He’s a football player. Why do you think the transition, personally let alone professionally, to politics is seemless?

                      He’s doing a lot for society as it is, even without a “professional activist” title.

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                      • A bunch of former pro ball players have had successful runs for Congress and various local offices. Name recognition alone gives them an advantage. Heath Shuler did it. Why not Kaepernick?

                        I know people really don’t like to hear it but his NFL career was probably over (at least as a starter) before all this based on performance. He made his money. He’s on the wrong side of 30.
                        Go fight for something he believes in.

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                          • So two back to back really bad seasons preceded by a meh season and a benching for a journeyman QB have nothing to do with it? Remember he had been benched when he was first noticed sitting during the national anthem. He also chose to walk away from what appeared to be an open qb competition under a new coach who had succeeded in the style of play Kaepernick is suited to, when the competition was an old journeyman and a low drafted rookie with no expectations.

                            Yes, the activism is one of the reasons he isn’t getting looks for team friendly, back-up deals (the no risk deal RG3 got from the Ravens is probably about what he could expect sans kneeling). But why can’t his fans admit that two seasons of 60% or below completion and plain awful QBR also contribute to the lack of interest? He caught lightning in a bottle with a good Harbaugh team in 2012 when Alex Smith went down, road it through 2013, and had basically been in free fall since.

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                            • But why can’t his fans admit that two seasons of “60% or below completion and plain awful QBR also contribute to the lack of interest?

                              I think his fans do admit that. The counter is why does a “60% or below completion and plain awful QBR” prevent him from getting a job when lots of other (white, anthem standing) QBs with similar numbers are employed.

                              Add: I admit it’s incredibly weird to me when folks suggest that there’s no racism involved in the Colin K issue when it’s just so crytsal clear to me that there is. Maybe I’m biased by remembering 300 years of American history as well the contemporary.

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                              • Simple. Because a marginal talent on the downside of his career that isn’t going to take any team over the top isn’t worth a barrage of asinine questions every week at the presser, which is how it would play out. ‘So you’re two and six at the midway point coach, do you think the controversy around your back-up QB has contributed to the situation? Is that preventing you from starting him?’

                                Meanwhile local sports radio has devolved into insanity, the fan base is split, no one is talking football. It’s the opposite of what a franchise wants. I’m a fan of a team notorious for off the field stupidity and, in a good year, mediocrity on it. It isn’t fun, and fair or not to Kaepernick it isn’t crazy that people don’t want it.

                                I sympathise with his cause and couldn’t give two craps about all these jingoistic displays at the games but its beyond him now. If you really want to be angry at someone I’d start with the rabid sports and political media for picking it up and fanning the story to the point that our dolt president weighed in and ensured it would never die down. The NFL isn’t run by saints and maybe has been a bit craven but thats been the case forever.

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                              • To your edit there’s probably some healthy doses of racism in how some people in the fan base and elsewhere react to the protest itself. But I don’t see any evidence of that in the NFL as an organization. This has been a PR disaster for them. They want it to go away, not appear to have taken sides, and still get that military sponsorship money that set the stage for the whole thing.

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                                • there’s probably some healthy doses of racism in how some people in the fan base and elsewhere react to the protest itself. But I don’t see any evidence of that in the NFL as an organization.

                                  Collusion suit reportedly shows that multiple teams saw Kaepernick as starting-caliber QB

                                  So, you know, we’ll see. Or rather, we are seeing, for those with eyes to do so anyway.

                                  Add: I’m continually amazed the intelligent people discount the role racism plays in american business and poltical decision making. Just boggles my mind.

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                                  • I’m continually amazed the intelligent people discount the role racism plays in american business and poltical decision making.

                                    If you’ve otherwise decided that these people are intelligent, then rather than being amazed, perhaps you should consider that you yourself might be missing something.

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                                    • Like 300 years of repression, institutionalized subservience, marginalization, incarceration and repression?

                                      Yes, I’m very curious to check out all the “smart guys” work on this issue. Cuz, you know, they’re smart an all…

                                      More seriously, why in the f*** would you think intelligence has anything do to with racial animus, Ken?

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                                      • ” why in the f*** would you think intelligence has anything do to with racial animus, ”

                                        To be fair, by stating your amazement at the juxtaposition between their intelligence and their lack of awareness of racial animus, you sort of brought the two together as relevant, yourself.

                                        He was responding to your implication that they had something to do with each other, so it’s a bit harsh to then ask why the f he would think they had something to do with each other.

                                        (I personally find it amazing myself, that people can’t see something that to me has been obvious since kindergarten. but that doesn’t really have to do with their intellectual capacity or not, more with my perpetual ability to reset the bafflement button when it comes to other humanoids, especially while ignoring the beams in my own eyes in favor of the motes in theirs.)

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                                        • How bout this: I’m amazed that intelligent people resort to “intelligence” as a decisive criterion against the racism debate. The argument isn’t dissimilar, in fact it’s very similar too, the nerdly idea that “market mechanisms, hence rationality, are against racism, therefore in a pure market economy racism cannot exist!” That sort of thing, the appeal to questionable first premises, which has been argued here for years…*

                                          Not sure how to say it but I hear what you’re saying, Maribou. I’m not sure how to say it any better in short notice tho.

                                          *Perhaps it’s the apriori nature of the argument that I object too.

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                                        • but that doesn’t really have to do with their intellectual capacity or not, more with my perpetual ability to reset the baffement button.

                                          This. Precisely. Hence my comment that “intelligent” people (per Ken B) oughtn’t be deferred to. Instead of deferring to them, it’s often a source of extraordinary wonder that they hold the beliefs they do.

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                                          • Not sure if I’m the referenced intelligent person who is apparently willfully blind to the existence of racism and/or is in fact a racist but if its like that why bother discussing it with me? I mean, if none of it is in good faith there’s no point.

                                            I’ll just note I never said anything about the (lack of) existence of racism or that market economics are a magic cure for it, or that intelligent people can’t harbor racist beliefs. Remember, what started this exchange was my suggestion that his playing days were probably over before this started anyway so maybe it would be a good thing to leverage his fame into activism or politics. You know, where he can do more to advance police/criminal justice reform, something I’ve said over and over that I support.

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              • A marginal starter who has growth potential is someone you want as a backup. Kaepernick started for five years, during which time the 49ers went:
                2012 11-4-1
                2013 12-4
                2014 8-8
                2015 5-11
                2016 2-14

                There were other factors at work, but still I’d rather take some little too short kid from a small school who might grow into something good.

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                    • But … this is where we’d expect privilege and racism to be expressed in late-stage* racism: in the marginal cases where “all else being equal” is subject to debate.

                      I get the push against the easy conclusion. Really, I do. We need to check out whatever data’s out there. But the data is pretty good, and eye test suggest Kaep was *atleast* a good backup, if not a dynamic starter for the league’s worst teams.

                      *I shoulda put some scare quotes around “late-stage”.

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                      • Well, I meant that there were other factors in why the 49ers were falling apart, and he didn’t start for all 14 of those losses. And as far as I know, no one was saying that his benching was racism, only response to his activism.

                        See, I was following football more closely than politics when all this happened, and I remember all the jokes about the 49ers and Kaepernick. They were a terrible team. There wasn’t the slightest argument against him being benched, for the same reason that the coach got fired that year. You don’t perform that badly and then complain when you can’t find a job.

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                          • Name one who did so while doing something on field on a weekly basis that, agree or disagree with the message, created a controversy for the brand, and, also importantly, occurred during sponsored content (remember these displays are paid for by the military). I’m not saying 100% there’s no precedent but I can’t think of one.

                            If you really wanted to do a test case you’d use someone like Russel Wilson or Cam Newton. My bet is they’d have jobs still because their talent is off the charts (though eventually the NFL would still come up with some rule like this to keep the sponsors happy and the money rolling in).

                            I think we’re still basically in Michael Vick territory. If the talent is there, the NFL forgives. The more talent thats there, the more likely it is to forgive, especially if we’re talking about a singular, off field, incident that no one is going to remember in a few weeks. But do you really think they’d give a platform to someone who goes out weekly and throws off his Nike gear as a protest against sweatshop labor? Of course not. They’d find a way to accomodate or bring into line a great talent and they’d be done with a lesser talent.

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    • One of the little ironies of modern life is that the American Right routinely and enthusiastically violates the Flag Code in its eagerness to show how patriotic it is. See also: Businesses that incorporate Christian symbolism in their marketing. I actively avoid them. Any individual one might merely be deeply confused about Christ’s mission and message, while otherwise being trustworthy. But the use of identity marketing to White American Evangelical Protestants often is associated with shoddy workmanship, dubious ethics, and outright scams. And I’m not White American Evangelical Protestant anyway. I am three out of four, but that is a clean miss. They aren’t marketing to me.

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    • This would be more pertinent had not the president of the country involved himself in the dispute.

      In retrospect, probably the xkcd comic would have been more spot-on had it said “The government can’t arrest you or target you for what you say,” but I’m sure he thought we’d gotten a pretty good handle on the “government can’t” part when he made that …

      (And I also feel like, given your previous comments, you know this distinction matters…)

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      • I’m not sure how much the distinction matters when it comes to the whole “whataboutism” thing that is so hot right now.

        “The first amendment doesn’t shield you from criticism or consequences” seems to be what the NFL is saying to its players.

        I mean, apart from the Jets guy.

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        • Except what they’re saying – and I swear you quoted more or less this concern elsewhere – is “The President hates this so no shield from *his* criticism or consequences thereof for you.”

          Or if they aren’t, we don’t know that they aren’t, because he involved himself.

          That matters.

          People can whataboutism all they want, it won’t stop mattering.

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          • I believe that the quotation on the record is this:

            “This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem…Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.”

            What people say off the record or as part of their own personal opinion is interesting, I suppose, but asking to be shielded from criticism or consequences from 1st Amendment activity is like yelling “MUH FREEZE PEACH” in a crowded theater.

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            • I’m not saying they need to be unrealistic or whatever.

              I’m saying that it’s perfectly logical to say both
              “People should say whatever they want and then deal with whatever public consequences from private individuals that they want without undue dramatics.” (the cited xkcd comics’ theme)
              and
              “It’s not ok that people are suffering consequences for speech that was publicly and threateningly censured by the head of the government acting in his public capacity” (the actual first amendment problem in this case). [actually if he’d just done backdoor threats to the NFL it would be just as bad as public capacity, but far less easy to catch, I suppose]

              Those two things aren’t the same. And given the impossibility of proving that the 2nd thing wasn’t the *cause* of the first thing in this case, and thus what people are actually objecting to, the cited tweet lacks pertinence. Or less generously, it’s just flat wrong.

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              • So the only way to have the ideal of Freedom of Speech that was imagined by Dead White Males (or that they pretended to have) is to have the President take an opposing view publicly?

                I can’t help but think that that is going to go over like a lead balloon.

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                  • Or at a minimum not say that people who don’t stand for the anthem should leave the country, especially when the individual saying those things he has the power, by virtue of the office he holds, to try to make that happen.

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                  • I think it’s that the public should view speech-restricting comments by the president as taboo, and not something to cheer about.

                    Unfortunately, they see it as a team sport and they see the NFL instituting this policy as a win.

                    Or, at least, a palpable hit against the people who explain stuff like “the first amendment isn’t protection from consequences”.

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                                    • Correct. You’re criticizing (cynically) folks who said the slope wasn’t slipperier than you expected. That’s blame ascribing, bro.

                                      Add: I have no idea what the H you’re arguing now except that you’re not wrong you’re never wrong you cannot be wrong.

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                                      • If I’m arguing anything right now, it’s that the NFL ban on kneeling is absolutely awful and I hate it. It is anti free speech. It is also 100% in line with the “showing you the door” attitude on free speech that has been pushed the last several years.

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                                        • If I’m arguing anything right now, it’s that the NFL ban on kneeling is absolutely awful and I hate it.

                                          Not true. Here’s your first comment in response to Maribou:

                                          I’m not sure how much the distinction matters when it comes to the whole “whataboutism” thing that is so hot right now.

                                          That’s a concession, dude. That “nothing can be done”. Hell, your wife has been reminding you that you don’t actually hold the position you’re arguing in this thread for a coupla hours and you don’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in listening.

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                                          • I’m not interested in beating my breast and talking about how I feel about things in some effort to signal tribal affiliation. I stopped calling myself a libertarian back in 2015.

                                            I am, however, interested in how this current conflict evolves and turns into something else. *THAT* is what fascinates me about this whole Trump thing.

                                            The NFL thing is a win for Trump. An ugly win.

                                            Let’s hope it’s Pyrrhic.

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                                        • The NFL ban on kneeling is a logical and predictable consequence *of the president calling out the kneelers*.

                                          The most probable consequence of him doing that.

                                          Far more relevant than “private individuals can show each other the door all they want” in terms of what slope we’re on.

                                          Distinguishing between the government and private individuals when it comes to the imposition of consequences of free speech isn’t some random whackadoodle distinction that I made up just now so you could dismiss it as not mattering, it’s *the cornerstone of first amendment precedent*.

                                          That’s why we’re so completely baffled by your argument. (And why I’m so frustrated by your mischaracterizations of my claims.)

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                                          • To my mind, the fundamental cornerstone of free speech is some variant of Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

                                            But that has been chipped away and chipped away and it evolved into something else entirely.

                                            And now we’re here.

                                            I wish we weren’t.

                                            The bad news is that we’ll be someplace even worse later.

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                                          • Distinguishing between the government and private individuals when it comes to the imposition of consequences of free speech isn’t some random whackadoodle distinction that I made up just now, it’s *the cornerstone of first amendment precedent*.

                                            If memory serves, Obama suggested Dems bring guns to political contests for use against the GOP. :)

                                            And to be fair, Obama realized where he was headed with that kind of talk and grew up while I seriously doubt Trump will…

                                            …although the other thing is Trump, even taken seriously, isn’t advocating violence. And his ‘helpless targets’ are media celebrities the poorest of which probably has 8 digits.

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                    • Unfortunately, they see it as a team sport and they see the NFL instituting this policy as a win.

                      Or, at least, a palpable hit against the people who explain stuff like “the first amendment isn’t protection from consequences”.

                      First, I view the whole thing as a nothing which the NFL should ignore…

                      …however if they can’t ignore it…

                      These players aren’t exercising their free speech on their own time as private citizens. They’re wearing NFL uniforms, on NFL time, are at NFL events, and are representing the NFL. The NFL is a big “entertainment” company, and they’re stirring up controversy and making the company look bad.

                      So this is deep into “firing offense” if the NFL chooses to view it as such.

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                • ” suffering consequences for speech that was publicly and threateningly censured by the head of the government acting in his public capacity”

                  That’s what people are actually upset about (a lot of people anyway). Treating them being upset about that as them being upset that people suffered non-governmental consequences about speech is being oblivious about the actual causes of their upset, which, hint hint, have a lot more to do with the cause and effect of a president censuring people for speech in a way that implies threat, followed by those people suffering a negative consequence, than they do with the NFL ruling. Thus removing oneself, as the author of the tweet did in my opinion, from pertinence to an actual conversation (as opposed to a game) about this topic.

                  Without the governmental censure, I think no one would care about this NFL rule for more than 5 minutes, or if they did care it would be of the “cool, that’s fine, and now I will counter-boycott you based on the conclusions I have drawn” variety.

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                  • Without the governmental censure

                    What was the censure, again?

                    Because, as far as I can tell, this was done because they didn’t want Trump to use this as a weapon.

                    Was Trump’s using it as a weapon of the form “we should use the government to prevent this broadcast” or was it closer to “people shouldn’t watch”?

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                    • I don’t care about the president’s possible censure of the NFL, or rather I do, but that wasn’t what I was talking about.

                      I was talking about the president’s already on the table censure of the players.

                      Which was of the form “if you are going to do that you should leave the country”.

                      Coming *from the head of the government*, that strikes me as a lot closer to “prevent this speech” than “people shouldn’t watch”. Watching the speech then become prevented strikes me as more upsetting than not watching it become prevented would have been, because it demonstrates (what I already know) that he’s *in charge* in a way that the rule of law is not.

                      I don’t see the NFL as particularly agentic (vs instrumental to the president) in carrying this out. I mean, it’d be nice to believe it’s a body capable of collective moral agency, but it hasn’t previously demonstrated that it is – and even if it was, “defy the express, targeted statements of the president against people” is a bar that plenty of otherwise moral agents fail, so I wouldn’t expect them to meet it.

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                      • Which was of the form “if you are going to do that you should leave the country”.

                        For what it’s worth, I saw that as similar to having been told “if you don’t like (policy), move to Somalia” a million times. Which was, in it’s way, a variant of “love it or leave it”.

                        For what it’s worth, I see that attitude as just as stupid and short-sighted as “if you don’t like it, move to Somalia”. And “love it or leave it”, for that matter.

                        I see what Trump said as very much against the enlightenment ideal of Free Speech that I hold very dear.

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                        • being told if you don’t like x you should y *in general* and being told it by the *president* – or the country being told that about YOU, particularly for a very small n number of you, by the president, which is worse -are two entirely different things.

                          You’ve ARGUED that before. Probably on HERE.

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                    • Without the governmental censure

                      What was the censure, again?

                      The censure was the POTUS saying NFL players should stand during the anthem or they’re unAmerican and (maybe!) shouldn’t even be in the country.

                      Add: is it necessary to remind you that POTUS plays a LEADERSHIP role in US politics and governance?

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    • When I say "free speech" I usually mean "a culture of free speech", which involves endorsing tolerance for views that are not your own.Yes, it's bad (and illegal) for the gov't to police speech, but encouraging retribution from private entities, while legal, is anti-free-speech— PoliMath (@politicalmath) May 24, 2018

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      • I’ve always fundamentally disagreed with this position (as you just may have noticed), but the main reason I’m summoning this dated comment from the vasty deep is because this bit from Douthat’s latest:

        Consider the N.F.L. protests first. Yes, it would be good if there were a stronger commitment to free speech from team owners, and if they weren’t so willing to collude against their players’ activism.

        But the problems run much deeper. The owners aren’t interested in standing up for their employees’ right to protest because their bottom line is threatened by Americans exercising their rights and turning off their televisions or ditching season tickets.

        The line between “counter-speech” and “silencing” becomes untenable if watching less football becomes “silencing” (it’s a stretch to even call that counter-speech, IMO).

        Anyway, obviously I disagree with some typically Douthatian passages, but overall it’s more evidence that the New York Times should fire all their opinion writers but him.

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        • If we pivot back and forth between “well, private companies can do whatever they want, they have to look at the bottom line after all…” and “people should have the Right to say what they think without having to worry about being destroyed for it!” based on whose ox is getting gored, that is going to chip away at the concept of Free Speech. Chipping away at Free Speech is going to be a *LOT* more bad in the long run than the irritation that follows from “being forced” to witness speech you don’t like. The callouses that follow from such irritation are a good thing for society in general.

          (And my priors for the above are something like this: Free Speech isn’t a First Amendment thing. The First Amendment is a Free Speech thing.)

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          • In that vein, Timeser Emeritus Elizabeth Bruenig wrote an essay on Medium, like, just a few minutes ago talking about the “Dark, Satanic Mill” that is Capitalism and on how “capitalism grinds everything down into content-neutral workplace compliance issues, meaning standing for the anthem is just a matter of commerce”.

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            • That’s a neat trick that Breunig pulls off and it works as long as we don’t dig too deep. After all, who would choose the “dark, Satanic mills” over the comfort of “tradition, custom, ritual, etc.” The latter just sounds so much nicer. At least it sounds nicer until you realize that tradition is more than just warm and fuzzy fealty to your family, community and your fellow man. Tradition is chauvinism. Tradition is misogyny. Tradition is ethnic supremacy. It is all those things as much as it is the warm and fuzzy feelings of an imagined bucolic pre-capitalist past that never was.

              Try as some might, this national anthem thing is only marginally about capitalism and only about markets and commerce in so far as those are the venues in which this story plays out. The plot is about white supremacy. The conflict is about whose suffering matters and whose ought to be swept aside so that everyone else can go on pretending to be the people that they imagine themselves to be as opposed to the people who they really are. In the words of one Fox news anchor, this is about one group of Americans telling another to “shut up and dribble.”

              If we suddenly adopted all of Bruenig’s preferred economic policies, we’d still have the same history of white supremacy. And the only difference would be that it would be the government punishing dissenters as opposed to a private corporate entity.

              For some people, I guess the end game is a noble enough goal that they don’t mind usurping the conversation in the name of that goal. If that’s your shtick, OK, fine. Have at it. Personally, I’d prefer we learn to focus on the issue in front of our face instead of having to sublimate everything into some grand ideological narrative.

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          • If we pivot back and forth between “well, private companies can do whatever they want, they have to look at the bottom line after all…” and “people should have the Right to say what they think without having to worry about being destroyed for it!” based on whose ox is getting gored, that is going to chip away at the concept of Free Speech.

            I agree. That is why I try to consistently argue against the latter sentiment, and contend that the expectation or social norm that you won’t have your career or personal life wrecked when you say what you think is, in fact, not going to ever work in a consistent way, and we should just learn to live in an environment where it’s not true.[1]

            I also am, with the latest twist in the NFL thing, experimenting with a strategy of waiting to comment on a story when my ox is getting gored to try to lessen the chances of my response being shaped by knee-jerk tribal instincts instead of principles that I actually (at least sort of) believe in.

            [1] And a lot of the current sense of its not-trueness comes from a technological transition which leads people to confuse broadcasting their thoughts to an audience of millions with a chummy conversation at the local pub.

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            • And a lot of the current sense of its not-trueness comes from a technological transition which leads people to confuse broadcasting their thoughts to an audience of millions with a chummy conversation at the local pub

              That technological transition didn’t happen by accident – the tech was carefully designed to mislead us into that fallacy. It could probably be reversed…

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              • I’m not so sure about that. There were other technologies that didn’t have that feature–some of which were widely used and incumbent when Facebook and Twitter started building steam–that didn’t survive. The “feels intimate but is actually a broadcast medium” is a (to me) fascinating double-edged sword.

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        • Douthat is onto something here, but even so he’s understating the case (or softpedaling for his audience as the case may be).

          It is true in America at least, there are legal considerations around free speech which are quite strong, that have some bearing on the matter. But this is increasingly run up against the cultural weakness of these traditions, and therefore there is a land grab of cultural conflict for the space that’s left over by the absence of those traditions.

          But even that is secondary. What has not been emphasized enough is that beyond these issues of whose paycheck buys what and the meaning of this or that posture in this context, we should appreciate that in a vacuum these protests are a bad thing and should be discouraged, whether or not they are outright banned.

          Libs are deeply corrupted from drinking from a well of racism consciousness. This isn’t meant to say anything about whether libs are racists but conservatives are really not, along the lines of arguments that we’ve probably heard already. What is does say is that libs think of our public culture, or more particularly the supposed problems with it, in terms of racism.

          In fact, it’s not very much exaggeration, if any at all, to say that the lib/Left mentality toward public culture is to say that our thoughts and energies on all aspects of the matter should be engineered around the rejection of racism. This is a moral error.

          We have severe problems in our culture today, but racism is not that important. Specifically, the breakdown of our families and the associated child development consequences of that, our poor state of public finance, and deep cultural antagonism associated with the Left/Right divide are all very serious problems in America (and lots of other places besides). Given these things, which are important and unpleasant and difficult and maybe even intractable to think about, it’s much more comfortable for us to think about racism instead, where we can at least maintain a pose of opposition if nothing else.

          However, that said we can still address one of these things, ie the Left/Right cultural divide. The underlying disagreements will still be there, but the wall of antagonism does not. This is where the value of things like the rituals surrounding the national anthem, and the corresponding denial of venue for protest come in. Ie, we can and should promote the idea of solidarity and harmony in the context of substantial and strongly-held disagreements. Therefore, even if we can suppose that President Trump thinks or does or has done many things we disapprove of, we can still concede that he’s on the right end of this one.

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          • Douthat is onto something here, but even so he’s understating the case (or softpedaling for his audience as the case may be).

            Sure, I suppose avoiding a digression into pointless hackish nonsense like this…

            Libs are deeply corrupted from drinking from a well of racism consciousness.

            …is a kind of soft-pedaling.

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            • Sure, I suppose avoiding a digression into pointless hackish nonsense like this…

              At least from an ideologically hostile pov, I can accept an accusation of hackish nonsense. But even from you, I’m not having anything about pointless.

              Clearly Trump, racism, Trump and racism, these are all things which are greatly agitating the lib imagination. This leads to antagonism and controversies like this current NFL thing. The way to mitigate these things, in such a way as to dial down the animosity among Americans, I’m sorry pill, it is very much on point.

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              • Yes, I know observing absolutely obvious realities like, “Trump is racist as balls,” has to count as “agitated […] imagination” in order to sustain your fantasy of libs being the root of all that ails the country, but I don’t see any particular reason why I ought to play along by granting such a ludicrous premise.

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                • It’s not the premise that’s the problem, pill, it’s the conclusion, or specifically that the premise implies the conclusion.

                  In this case, the premise is that Donald Trump is racist, and the conclusion is that he is somehow not really President for that reason, or in general that racism is the key issue to be addressed in our society. And contrary to your comment (and other prior comments) your premise does not imply your conclusion.

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    • I suspect that is beyond our current technical capabilities, but it always helps to if you want to make sure he sees feature requests. (At least that he eventually sees them.)

      (Especially of late, as he’s traveling quite a lot.)

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