Jemele Hill, Browns vs. Ravens, and More: While We’re Waiting

Happy Friday, WFNY people. We’re locked into the most epic regular season baseball we’ve ever seen from the Indians. We’ve got Cleveland Browns moral victories to enjoy, including a quarterback that gives us at least a bit of hope for the future. Let’s send the week out right with some talk about… Jemele Hill? We could, but let’s not do it the way everyone else is doing it.

Jemele Hill needs to be smarter about Twitter usage…

Most of the Jemele Hill conversation has been tied up in the politics of what she wrote and whether she has the right to say those things about the President. To me, that’s barely even the issue. WFNY is not anything remotely close to ESPN. We don’t have employees, let alone an employee manual. ESPN has contracts with their employees and a legal team including an HR department as well as many layers of management, and somehow, WFNY is just as equipped to handle this with our boilerplate to prospective writers.

This is what is sent to prospects, and many of the new folks can vouch for this:

I’ve done a cursory glance over your social media, but I want to make sure you understand the voice and style of WFNY publicly. We tend to avoid fighting with fellow media members. We have the ability to get media credentials for sporting events, and part of that is maintaining a professional public image. That doesn’t mean you have to be nice to the teams we cover, but you have to be professional with your criticism. You don’t have to be agreeable with everyone else or avoid having your own opinions, but we expect anyone who associates with WFNY to help us maintain our standing in the community and not hinder it. That’s pretty non-specific, but if you’re planning on daily flame wars on Twitter or @’ing Browns players who had bad games, it’s not going to work out.

That’s it. And since we started sending that out, we’ve conveyed the responsibility with associating with our platform, as little as it might be in the scope of sports media. Jemele Hill has to be smarter as a headliner for ESPN.

Her error in judgment was in how she was carrying herself, not necessarily the opinion she had on the topic. Why was she engaged in a tit for tat political argument in front of the world with some people who had 743, 34, and 32 followers each? When you have the ability to make statements and engage with influential people, why would you spend your time engaging in that manner? I’m not saying she shouldn’t interact with random Twitter users, but she probably shouldn’t engage in something bordering on a flame war with random people like that.

Whether you like her or not, Jemele Hill is a high profile host on a huge network. She has over 650,000 followers on Twitter. She’s allowed to have an opinion, even a polarizing or unpopular one. Going into Twitter battle from 5 p.m. on September 11 until nearly 8 p.m. is not what ESPN has designed for any of their high profile employees. She should be allowed to express herself, even on Twitter. Still, if you’re ESPN and you want your high profile hosts to carry themselves in a dignified manner, this isn’t it.

So you can get into ESPN’s inconsistent meting out of punishments and try and discuss the finer points of Linda Cohn’s suspension for criticizing ESPN publicly or Curt Schilling’s dismissal after his third or fourth offense, but I’ll just focus on her bad Twitter judgement.

Previewing Browns vs. Ravens with Ben Axelrod

The 3SportsPodcast continues into the Browns’ season with the good guys heading to Baltimore. I explain why I don’t expect the Browns to cover the spread this week and why there isn’t a better rivalry with the Ravens despite the necessary hatred for a rivalry.

Have a great weekend everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the Indians’ historic period of baseball heading into the playoffs. It sure feels good to see Progressive field rocking every night.

  • RGB

    I’m shocked that SCAD students haven’t staged protests at our local Confederate monuments.

  • jpftribe

    No Quarter TB2. That is all.

  • Steve

    “Slaves were not citizens”

    Because of white supremacy.

  • jpftribe

    Meh. Twitter is only as bad as you let it be. But I can understand the sentiment. I refuse to do Facebook and Twitter is similar in that what you put out there never goes away.

  • Steve

    “She didn’t lose her job or even get suspended”

    ESPN tried, but everyone they asked to replace her refused to fill in.

  • Steve

    “As for Trump, he is certainly a bigot … not a “white supremacist”.”

    Where is the line between bigot and white supremacist?

  • humboldt

    Wouldn’t you say there is a qualitative difference between being an intolerant, boorish buffoon and pursuing policies to bring about a white nationalist ethno-state?

  • CBiscuit

    Yes, they are different for sure by definition. People tend to go with dropping labels that express their utmost feeling without really thinking about whether that person really is a “Hitler.” Calling someone a white supremacist was Hill’s inarticulate way of dropping the biggest bomb (and label) on an otherwise deplorable guy.

    Unfortunately, the words lose their impact and meaning when not used accurately. Not everyone is a fascist, a Hitler, a communist, a terrorist, a supremacist. I dislike Trump as much as anyone, but the word police is in the right here.

  • Steve

    Sure, and I’m just pondering where that line is. This isn’t meant to apply one term or the other to Trump.

  • tigersbrowns2

    WFNY is my Facebook , Twitter & whatever all rolled into one … i like it that way.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • Garry_Owen

    The Civil War is a fascinating, compelling, and tragic chapter in history. In that chapter, there are few things more compelling and tragic in my mind than the average Confederate soldier. It breaks my heart that this is what their collective story has become.

  • humboldt

    Yes, well said. And to be “fair and balanced” here, I do think the right needs to reckon with its “lumping” tendencies as well. One of the worst manifestations of this is, as you point out, to label any remotely social democratic policy as a form “Communism” with the implication that the horrors of Lenin and Mao lurk behind a socially productive policy like providing universal access to higher education or healthcare.

    There are many forms of socialism (e.g. Maoism, Marxism, Nordic state democratic socialism, etc.), and rhetoric that lazily and reactively lumps them all together is guilty of the same transgression as people on the left making blanket accusations of “white supremacy.”

  • humboldt

    Me too, Garry. I wrote this as a response to someone a few weeks ago and think it well reflects my feelings on the issue:

    “As someone who has, over the past decade, relocated to a job within an hour of Gettysburg, I have made dozens of trips to the battlefield over the last several years. Having arrived with my fair share of biases and stereotypes about the Deep South, I now consider the battlefield to have served as an incubator of my own empathy. If you can, try visiting Gettysburg someday. When you do, find a place to stand amidst the shaded tree line along Seminary Ridge—the point from which thousands of Confederate troops launched the July 3rd, 1863 attack now famously called “Pickett’s Charge”. As you take in the vast field in front of you, allow yourself to feel a sense of wonderment that the parched, malnourished, weary, and exhausted infantry troops who lined up in formation where you are standing—a substantial number of whom were poor southern men from families with no direct connection to slavery—had the fortitude enough to accept an order to advance over open ground directly into withering rifle and artillery fire from Union batteries. What compelled these men—the literal and symbolic forebears of many present-day southerners—to step off into near-certain death and injury? Just slavery?”

    I of course always link to one of our favorite Simpsons clips as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q–iGgtRn8

  • Garry_Owen

    Extremely well said, humbolt. I believe the concept of slavery was the last thing on their minds, to the extent it entered their minds at all. The number of actual slave owners on the field that day was statistically insignificant. Slavery is not what drew those men to that field (and other fields) suffering and sacrificing everything that that did along the way and afterward.

  • BenRM


  • Garry_Owen

    “rhetoric that lazily and reactively lumps them all together is guilty of the same transgression as people on the left making blanket accusations of “white supremacy.”

    Agree, with the caveat that ignorantly being called and dismissed as a “racist” or “white supremacist” has a much different implication today that does being ignorantly labeled a “communist.” The irrational thought process is apples/apples, but the consequence is not.

  • humboldt

    I agree; there is a deep stigma around “white supremacist/racist” that more or less rejects people as irredeemable (or “deplorable”, if you will).

    The “Communist” label is less stigmatizing but also quite frustrating because it comes with its share of baggage and preempts reasonable and necessary conversation about the implications of socialist or quasi-socialist policies in our own time (which I guess is the point).

  • Garry_Owen

    I have come to believe that there is one (1) compelling argument for universal healthcare and one (1) somewhat compelling argument for universal basic income. That no more makes me a Communist than it makes someone a racist/xenophobe for finding a compelling argument for a border wall or immigration reform. Similarly, the ownership of multiple compelling beliefs on these issues likewise does not make the owner one or the other. It’s crazy how we so quickly reduce a person’s identity and significance to a mere label based on silly things like these.

  • Eric G

    As long as you don’t start shirking your WFNY obligations, you have my vote.

  • gotbuckets_com

    Activism is tricky to get right. Changing things like culture, law, people’s minds can require a lot of energy and inertia. Activism can succeed at its stated goal, or fail at its stated goal. When it fails it is either overcome by events or keeps trying anyway, maybe hiding in the shadows to lick its wounds before re-emerging.

    But what about when activism succeeds? Then what? What do you do when the vast majority of people agree with you? An entire generation of children raised in the 80s by parents of those that lived through the 60s taught their children to be colorblind – to live as MLK Jr preached – to treat each person by the content of their character.

    Today, this is a micro aggression in leftist enclaves. Not only is it no longer the default position that everyone should be treated according to the content of their character, but that sentiment is simply some kind of further proof of the white supremacist patriarchy of something.

    So what have the activists done? They’ve taken critical race theory, something considered so fringe and radical, and basically made it a litmus test for discourse. This is why you have so many people tripping over themselves to show “support” for Ms. Hill. Because they hold critical race theory as the social quantum mechanics of America.

    This is why there is such bewilderment among “regular” people that haven’t been brainwashed with this ideology. They think to themselves: wait a minute, I abhor racism, I respect people based on their character and temperament, I certainly don’t think one race is superior to others, I treat people based on who they seem after I get to know them, not based on what they look like, some of my best friends are not my race, some of my roommates or people that I’ve chosen to live alongside or in relationships with are not my race, and yet, because I don’t subscribe to a radical fringe ideology that says that all people are innately racist, and it’s only through some sort of left wing bias training that I can overcome my original sin, am I not a racist. And that was last year. Now we’ve blown past “racist” which became devoid of all meaning and have gone straight to white supremacist.

    This is the state of things. So the question is, given these conditions and the normal human incentives that apply to social environments, what happens next?

    People start separating into groups based on this forcing function.

    The first group is people that feel a deep sense of guilt. Sometimes this is racial, sometimes financial. In that sense, virtue signaling support for critical race theory and by extension Ms. Hill’s comments or anything that Ta-Nehisi Coates says, is paying for indulgences. And they’re actually free. They just cost a tweet here or there or you become a sign-waving activist, or maybe you get really involved – there’s a spectrum. These are people that, even if they examine their conscience and know that they have never acted on racial preferences or have always sought to act in a way to overcompensate for racism that currently exists (but is committed by others), they try to empathize and come to conclusions like “I’ve never had to deal with racism, I have no idea what that’s like, I have privilege, I need to pay a tax.”

    The second group of people has been burned once or twice (very recently – as this is a recent phenomenon) by an extremely vicious encounter with someone in that first group. To them, the incentives now are aligned such that there is no benefit to offering their opinions on the matter. At best, it’s an outlet or form of expression, maybe venting. At worst, it’s getting fired for having the wrong opinions, no matter how well-reasoned, factual, or in good faith (James Damore firing). They will be branded heretics and demonized as white supremacists or Nazis or whatever. They just stop talking. They treat every encounter like they are in a workplace with no water color – all topics are off the table because everything is political. These are the people most likely to think “My God why can’t we just stick to sports.” Because sports has always been acceptable banter, apolitical, and the one arena where passions could be inflamed without it being personal. I can come into work, be FANATICALLY FOR the Cleveland Indians, and enjoy a rousing argument with my co-worker the Yankees fanatic. And there’s no bad blood. Now you don’t want to talk about football because everything funnels to Kaepernick, Concussions, or domestic abuse and not only is that depressing as hell, but whatever opinion you might have could too easily be the “wrong” opinion and be the front line for a polarizing proxy war. So you probably think, “I’m just not going to say anything at all that is capable of even loosely touching on race – because it’s simply too costly. These people could be thoughtful, curious, well-intentioned, and correct in their thinking, but what’s the point in exposing yourself to charges of being a racist or white supremacist. If you are a black person and you don’t exhale according to the orthodoxy the cost is particularly high, you are called an Uncle Tom (see Clarence Thomas / Condoleeza Rice / Jason Whitlock). If you are a white person, ultimately, you could literally do everything right – the right logic, the right temperament, the right fairness, the right intentions. But like the lay member trying to give out communion, you are not ordained in the sacrament of personal experience. So, your ideas are invalid because your racial experience is invalid, as if ideas can only be validated by the color of ones skin (the antithesis or MLK Jr.’s message.). This permeates literally everything. Have you noticed every single white person that opines on race starts by saying something along the lines of “here’s proof that I’m not a racist before I offer up a thought.” Patricia Heaton (daughter of the late great Chuck Heaton) did this last night. Some fool claimed Ben Shapiro wasn’t jewish. Heaton, who must have some acquaintance with Mr. Shapiro, defended his jewish authenticity. The fool, then, predictably, changed the argument to focus on Ms. Heaton’s supposed lack of anti-racist virtue signaling, which is orthogonal to the question of Mr. Shapiro’s jewish background. Instead of laughing or ignoring this logical fallacy, Ms. Heaton did what we all do – she immediately recoiled and offered up her best example of her black bonafides by declaring that she creates scholarships specifically for black students to attend college. In other words, she feels threatened enough to play by the fool’s rules for engagement in order to stand by an otherwise obviously provable claim, in which she is on the truthful side. But how the court of public opinion arbitrates this exchange, in which one side is obviously wrong and mean spirited and one side is obviously correct is besides the point. The point is that it becomes painful for Ms. Heaton so that she learns her lesson and doesn’t ever try that again. It’s mafia-like in its coercion.

    The third group of people are the ones that still feel comfortable enough to say whatever they want to say without fear of reprisal. They probably live in a red state or work for a small company that doesn’t have a army of multi-cultural inclusiveness outreach response team. Or they’re retired and don’t give a damn. While all of the cultural institutions have accelerated towards Orwellian thought policing and the progressive political religion and its morals (of which, four of the six foundations of human morality are attenuated to zero while ‘fairness’ and ‘harm/care’ are keepin’ it 100) has replaced traditional churches / organizations and their morals, the state (that is the United States) has continued to protect it’s most sacred amendment – the 1st. Your Uncle doesn’t care about google’s politics or what the kids are Berkley chant or what Mozilla will fire you for.. No actual police officer is going to knock on his door and arrest him for his thoughts and ideas. In a few years when someone tries to fine him for using the wrong pronoun he might care, but at this point – he feels pretty free to just be what he is and say what he wants to say. He’s the stereotypical “racist uncle” at Thanksgiving dinner. (Up until a few years ago he was just the Republican Uncle)

    The fourth group of people are the young people that are searching for a leader to deliver them out of the bondage of insanity. They see their cohorts being “made to care”. They reject the radicalism that is becoming mainstream and they reject silence. They know that to stay this course is to become pariah. They almost universally follow loud, single-minded leaders that do not waver. They might follow someone like Mr. Shapiro, who preaches his gospel of traditional social conservatism rather reasonably without apology and hoped Mitt Romney would run. But unfortunately, most see Shapiro and his NeverTrumper ilk as a losing horse. Many more find comfort in the political provocateurs who just seem less lame and more rebellious. Clay Travis, Adam Carrolla, etc. They find pleasure in triggering the snowflakes. They are socially liberal on some things, probably nonchurched, but they aren’t radical leftists and they don’t hate America. They aren’t racist but they are the type of people that think BLM is misguided or enciting violence and don’t believe using facts is “blaming the victim”.

    The first group is susceptible to taking their religion to the extreme and joining marxist organizations like antifa. (We’ll call them Group 0) unlike in the past where they understood themselves to be anarchists first, many of the newly inducted now have a sense of self-righteousness instilled. They believe it is their duty to fight the structures of oppression and priviledge “by any means necessary.” They believe free speech is a Trojan horse for hate speech. They believe hate speech is equatable to physical violence (aka violence) and thus they are justified to stand their ground by smashing bottles over the heads of someone standing still holding up a sign (or even worse, running away from an encounter).

    The third and the fourth group can both be seduced by the right wing radicals and fall into the depravity of the fifth group.

    The fifth group mostly recruits, acts, and manifests itself online. It is like an internet (and sometimes real life) ISIS. Young, idealistic, angry, men – feeling betrayal by their country by nature of their race and sex. They may have experienced the bias in the gamergate coverage. They may be devoutly religious but feeling left behind by the relativism and prioritization of inclusiveness and social justice above all other directives. They refuse to assimilate into the 1st or second group and in a society where victim status is currency, they are by their very existence, destined to be broke. Whether by immaturity, anger, or evil, they choose to break bread with those that would do things like this: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441319/donald-trumps-alt-right-supporters-internet-abuse-must-end.

    Groups 0 and 5 are growing, and that is very. bad. news. Group 0 finds supports on college campuses, in google doodles, in the Berkley Mayor’s Facebook, in Nancy Pelosi declaring a multicultural hodge podge of free speech absolutists “white supremacists” (see this disturbing article: http://www.weeklystandard.com/a-beating-in-berkeley/article/2009498#!). Group 5 finds itself under siege, trying to grow like a cancer while the emperors of the internet move quickly to excommunicate their domains. Most have by now found Gab. This is a huge problem. While Gab worked tirelessly to capitalize on gaining members from groups 3 and 4 after the Damore firing, and has worked to establish red lines on acceptable content, they are simultaneously gaining the refugees from group 5’s ISIS-like battles. (And yes, many of those refugees are either ISIS-like or sympathetic).

    Do you realize the implications of this? Future politicians and tech giants at Berkley are indoctrinated with “Free Speech = Hate Speech”. Current tech giants fired a socially liberal/economically libertarian coding star because he shared his reasonable opinions on a forum designed for sharing opinions and people in groups 2,3,and 4 think “here we freaking go again.” They might think: “its time to get away from google, and twitter, and all these other Orwellian marxists echo chambers.” They find…? GAB. Weeks later, the refugees show up. Now, the Berkley students are vindicated: “see, look at how hateful everyone is on GAB.” https://slate.com/technology/2017/08/the-alt-right-wants-to-build-its-own-internet.html

    Meanwhile, everyone that hasn’t already jumped shipped to groups 0 or 5 has to decide if it’s worth staying where they are. Group 1 offers protection and solidarity. You get to be on the “right side of history”. You get to be called courageous for your thoughts and ideas while literally every person of power in the media or in social media claps like seals. It’s not a bad place to go. There is a baptism by which you can cure yourself of the original sin of whiteness or maleness, or cisgenderness or whatever. You can become an “ally”, thus gaining first class citizenship status. If you really believe it you are probably a radical, and not interested in reason, truth, or compromise. “by any means necessary.” You may have a strong sense of empathy and justice and the victimhood society resonates with your innate moral foundations. All you needed was some cultural brainwashing which you most certainly got in any university or public education.

    Group 4 is like the Gary Johnson voters. They’ll never go away but they’ll never be very impactful. Group 3 has no cultural power and is gentrifying and frankly doesn’t care very much how this all goes down. If the conditions remain the way they are (or continue accelerating), Group 2 is unsustainable. The “made to care” power is too strong to be resisted forever and whatever power remains in silence and some lever pulls here and there will be eroded legally in the future if the course continues. No law, nor precedence, nor bill or rights can stem the tide of a persistent torrent of driving culture. In that sense, by putting reasonable debate out of bounds we are living on borrowed wisdom.

    Group 1 has the most to gain from this thought policing. As long as they are committed to violence, Groups 0 and 5 will remain on the fringes, even as they grow in strength. that makes Group 1 the only sustainable landing spot as it continues to redefine the rules of acceptability while wielding the power to punish apostasy. Only Group 2 can contain Group 1, and I’m afraid we are losing our nerve, having already lost our appeal. There’s another problem too. Group 1 cannot actually be contained much longer. In the very near future the calculus will have changed so dramatically that Group 1 will have to be asked to contain itself – within the bounds of their own moral framework (which, again, is highly bipolar compared to humans generally). While we have no Messiah in our midst to bring salvation (or, balance to the force if you prefer) There are a few John the Baptists wandering the desert. My favorite is Jonathan Haidt, he of moral foundation theory and Heterodox Academy. Unfortunately, even Haidt has grown weary in the wake of Charlottesville. https://heterodoxacademy.org/2017/08/23/the-implications-of-charlottesville/

    Ms Hill’s tweet storm gives us a microcosm of this entire cultural state theory I’ve outlined, how the groups are represented, and how the incentives forced the outcomes.

    In Group 1 you have Ms. Hill, well versed in critical race theory, rubbing elbows with THE most powerful disciple of critical race theory, President Obama. She not only believes President Trump is a white supremacist (however she interprets the title) but she believes it appropriate to publicly lob that charge while full-well knowing how serious of a charge it is and her relative fame. Why did she do it? I don’t believe it’s because she was careless. I believe it was because she doesn’t actually see it as brazen, it’s simply in accordance with her deeply held beliefs, which are echoed by her contemporaries on a daily basis. In our society, calling someone a liar is less damning that calling someone a white supremacist. Bill Simmons, arguably more popular and talented than Ms. Hill, was suspended for calling Roger Goodell a liar. Case in point, despite the fact that she hasn’t actually been disciplined, Ms. Hill is receiving a torrent of support from a “who’s who” of her social circles.

    In Group 1 you also have ESPN management who came over from Group 2 in the last decade. They chose to be allies. They chose the liberal interpretation of inclusiveness over everything (everything includes truth). They virtue signal at every opportunity to avoid the bullying from the Deadspins of the world. And, it’s never enough. Case in point, ESPN has received as much flak from the Tremendously Smug Charles Pierce progressives of the world for “sitting down and talking” to Ms. Hill as it has from the “my God why can’t we stick to sports” flyover folk. ESPN is in a no win situation. They felt that staying quiet, in group 2, wasn’t sustainable. Once they came to that conclusion, the only other possibility was Group 1. Linda Cohn criticized this decision. Fox Sports, flanked by Clay Travis, has capitalized on ESPN’s decision, hiring enough folks in Groups 2 (Whitlock), 3(Bayless) and 4(Travis) to provide a respite from the nauseating smugness and virtue signaling of a large number of brazenly political ESPN personalities.

    Group 2, 3, and 4 might be outraged by the double standards they might not. But they sense it the way that a parent senses his crying infant. You learn to cope, but you’re also more attuned to it – your senses are on high alert. Everyone not in Group 1 knows that ESPN is a liberal rag, it’s not even really a debate. But if you follow the other media outlets (most likely with writers almost exclusively in Group 1), they describe the ordeal as “so-called” or “perception”, or “allegedly”. This predictably follows the pattern many republicans have experienced under news media bias. A Republican scandal occurs: “Republicans did X.” A Democrat scandal occurs: “Republicans say Democrats did X”.

    Donald Trump is most assuredly in Group 3. In fact, the appeal of his entire candidacy was the fact that he was the only candidate in the field in Group 3. The fact that he (either through ignorance or repugnance or a combination of both) never constrained himself with decency much less “acceptable speech” informs almost everything he does. So of course he has tweeted out his emotional response to a tweet, like your White Supremacist (formerly just racist, before that just Uncle Joe) Uncle at Thanksgiving yelling with a mouth full of dark meat turkey.

    I shudder to think where Group 5 is in this story. Probably tweeting evil things to Ms. Hill or sharing pictures of her being murdered (oh, hi, Kathy Griffin) or some other depravity. Group 0 is made up people that I doubt have every played organized sports, so they might not factor in.

    This is just an awful place to be, America. The voice we need to hear the most is MLK Jr. And he’s been relegated to micro aggression status. The people we need to do be promoting the most are the reasonable ones that bought into King’s ideals and now feel like they’re being forced to choose sides in a race war they abhor. We’re driving these people to dangerous fringes, and creating bitterness. We’re seduced by “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and we’re acting as such.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi GOT … good post. yes, this is surely the longest post I’ve seen on WFNY … not quite sure what to think of it though . there are good & bad in ALL “groups” , unless we’re talking about extremists groups like the KKK , ISIS , Al-Qaeda etc.

    i sometimes wonder what people like Ms. Hill & others are actually accomplishing … are they doing good , or are they inciting hate ??

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