Last week we learned that Ultron may have been right.
Last week ESPN announced the removal of part-time announcer Robert Lee from the network’s coverage of the University of Virginia’s first football game of the 2017 season because he shares his name with the infamous Confederate general memorialized in statues that are being torn down across the country.
If ESPN’s reasoning is correct, then yes, apparently we are, as a society, too weak and stupid to continue on.
Save the pitchforks and torches; my opinion is not a reflection of some sort of misguided respect for “Southern History”.
In fact, when the controversy about honoring the history of the confederacy first went supernova back in 2015 when Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state house, I not only agreed, but said then that all of the statues needed to go as well.
There are many who defend these monuments and the flag as the preservation of southern history, but what exactly does that mean? What are they trying to preserve? Even if you’re “pro southern culture but anti-slavery,” even if you could ignore what happened to African slaves “back then,” you’re still left with only sedition and treason to celebrate.
And the Confederate states were not exactly the rebel alliance fighting for freedom throughout the galaxy. They were fighting for the right to maintain an economy that couldn’t exist without forced, uncompensated labor.
See, it’s impossible to ignore what slavery has done to OUR country. Spoiler alert: it left it divided and filled with mistrust, hatred and violence. The only place that statues of Confederate soldiers belong is in Gettysburg, PA, and they should be posed lying on the ground with statues of Union soldiers standing on their necks. The Confederate flag, however, gets one placement exemption outside of Gettysburg: It’s acceptable to have it painted on the roof of an orange 1970s Dodge Charger because the Dukes were just good ole boys never meanin’ no harm. It said so in their song.
But all of that doesn’t mean that the pendulum can’t swing too far the other way sometimes. Like last week when ESPN released a statement saying:
We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.
I could be mistaken, but I hadn’t heard or read anything about Lee calling the game being controversial until ESPN MADE IT AN ISSUE!
A network spokesman added, “After the violence in Charlottesville, which left one person dead, ESPN executives and Mr. Lee decided that for his safety it would be best to have him to work on a different game that Saturday.”
So ESPN is concerned that there are some anti-Confederate Monument protestors in our society that can’t tell the difference between a Confederate general who died 147 years ago …
… and GTM Payroll Services Channel Partner Manager/part-time sportscaster, Robert Lee …
… and are therefore concerned for the latter’s safety? Send the asteroid.
The logic inherent to this type of decision making is WHY we have incidents of violence rooted in this kind of stupidity. The more that we try to guard the “feelings” and try to preempt the “triggers” of the fragile, we only make them weaker, more entitled and less able to overcome adversity on their own. They start to expect that nothing and no
one will or should ever run counter to their own beliefs and if it does, someone must remove or destroy the unacceptable person or thing for them.
Or maybe it’s just Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s fault.
On the flipside, one company that doesn’t seemed concerned with matters like these, AT ALL, but maybe should be, is NBC. Their Baltimore, MD, affiliate station, WBAL-11, employs a sportscaster who has been calling NFL preseason games on television and Ravens games on radio for years named … GERRY SANDUSKY.
Sure, football game announcer “Gerry Sandusky” is spelled differently from former football coach whose use of his position to commit serial sexual abuse of young boys nearly brought down one of the most honored programs in college football, “Jerry Sandusky”, but come on …
They’re both associated with football.
They both live in the same century.
While not exactly twinsies, they look a hell of a lot more a like than Lee and Lee.
This is Gerry …
… and this is pure evil.
Even after everything that I wrote before this sentence, knowing that someone named Gerry Sandusky is calling football games on TV makes my skin crawl. Wait, who owns NBC? Oh, that’s right, F#$%ING COMCAST!
But that’s my issue; and my issue shouldn’t prevent Gerry from making a living at his chosen vocation. If Robert Lee the sportscaster actually doesn’t want to call a game because he fears for his own safety, that’s his right. But if he was removed from the game because ESPN is overreacting to a long overdue step in our evolution as country of
removing monuments to sedition and treason, then they’ve failed to learn the lesson that one of their bunkmates in the MouseHouse, Marvel, tried to teach us:
Bad things happen when you try to put a suit of armor around the world.
Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.