The hypocrisy of “shut up” culture: Kanye West edition

By Michael d’Oliveira

The hypocrisy of “shut up culture” reached new highs (well, lows actually) this week with Kanye West’s Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump.

The newly crowned leader of “shut up culture” is Candace Owens. A conservative pundit, Owens has gotten a lot of attention lately – from conservatives and liberals.

Not too long ago, Owens did a whole video on that now classic conservative saying: celebrities should shut up.

In the video, Owens says, “Here’s the thing, famous ladies and gents: Nobody cares what you think. Nobody.”

And nothing says “nobody cares what celebrities think” than devoting a three-minute video to talking about how nobody cares what celebrities think. Truly not caring would involve just ignoring the thing you claim to not care about.

Fast forward to this week and Owens is smiling from ear to ear and talking to everyone about how great it is that Kanye, who, in case you’ve forgotten, is a celebrity, has spoken out against the Democrats and everyone else who is anti-Trump.

On Fox & Friends, she said Kanye was “Bold enough to move the ball forward and start speaking about these things publicly.”

Quite the turnaround.

Of course, this naked hypocrisy of telling one group of Americans they can’t be part of the political conversation while praising another for the exact same thing is nothing new. It was written about on this website earlier this year.

This hypocrisy and these double standards represent one of the big problems with our public discourse: some of us would just rather shout at people we disagree with.

It’s certainly everyone’s right to disagree with anything anyone says. If some actor or musician tells you Trump sucks, you don’t have to agree. You can even reply that liberal celebrities are the ones who suck.

But it rings very hallow to tell some celebrities they shouldn’t be involved in politics while telling others they are great for doing so.

And Owens is probably the last person who should be telling celebrities to shut up. She’s basically a celebrity herself. She’s certainly treated like one by many conservatives who like what she has to say.

Before the internet, most people couldn’t have their political opinions disseminated to the entire world. That kind of widespread exposure was really only reserved for celebrities, people in the media and politicians.

But in the age of social media, literally anyone can say or write something and the whole world will pay attention. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert in what you’re talking about or you have many years of experience, you can become famous just by expressing the right opinion at the right moment.

The game has changed, and we’ve become a society where everyone’s opinions can suddenly drive the public discourse. The time of telling others to not use the platforms they have access to are over.

Wait a day or two before breaking out your “Jump to Conclusions” mat

By Michael d’Oliveira

In the movie “Office Space,” Tom proudly talks about his “Jump to Conclusions” mat.

“You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor and would have different ‘conclusions’ written on it that you could jump to.” His co-workers dubbed it “horrible” and the “worst idea ever.”

Unfortunately, many Americans, myself included, have their own lame version of the “Jump to Conclusions” mat and roll it out when it’s time to pass judgement on someone else.

I like to think I’m pretty good at waiting a little while before passing judgement on a situation. But I’m not perfect. I’ve reacted too fast sometimes without waiting to see if there’s more to the story.

Yesterday’s incident at Wrigley Field is a good reminder of why we should all wait a day or two before we render an opinion.

In the video below, a member of the Chicago Cubs lobs a foul ball to a young boy. After the boy fails to catch the ball, a man picks it up and gives it to the woman next to him.

People immediately reacted with name-calling.

“Don’t be this guy” was a common one. There are harsher ones that won’t be repeated here.

But, according to David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago, the man in question had already given a foul ball to the kid.

“I spoke with people from the Cubs. The man who grabbed the ball on the widely seen video had actually already helped the little boy get a ball earlier. The young man has a game used ball and a Javy Baez ball. All is well. Guy is A-OK so let it go people,” wrote Kaplan on Twitter.

Another man on Twitter claimed he was at the game and says the man in question is also more generous than he appears in the clip.

“I was sitting next to the little boy and in front of the Cubs fan getting called every name in the book. Here’s what they forgot to mention…

  1. The boy already got a ball two innings before this.
  2. The guy was able to snag at least 2 other balls & gave them to other kids”

A third man who was also at the game and sitting next to the guy said he actually caught three foul balls and gave all of them to little kids. You can see his interview below.

Clearly, this isn’t a guy stealing balls from children to bring home for himself.

And while this doesn’t have anything to do with politics, it’s a great example of how we should seek out more information before we form an opinion on issues both political and non-political. An entire lifetime of good deeds and behavior can be wiped away just by one 30-second viral video.

We see one instance of behavior and we think we can sum up a person’s entire life and personality. We need to stop being so casual with our opinions regarding complete strangers.


The key to spotting falsely-used photos

By Michael d’Oliveira

Fox News has apologized for using photos of Philadelphia Eagles players kneeling during a segment about President Donald Trump cancelling their visit to the White House.

Use of the photos was criticized because it implied that some of the Eagles players took part in the NFL protests and kneeled during the National Anthem. Fox removed the segment but CNN played the segment on its own broadcast.

“During our report about President Trump canceling the Philadelphia Eagles trip to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win, we showed unrelated footage of players kneeling in prayer,” wrote Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “To clarify, no members of the team knelt in protest during the national anthem throughout regular or post-season last year. We apologize for the error.”

On Twitter, Trump also implied the Eagles players knelt during the National Anthem.

“The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

Eagles player Chris Long criticized Fox for the misleading photos.

“Imagine wanting to please the boss so very badly that you run stills of guys knelt down PRAYING during pregame. Not one Eagles player knelt for the anthem this yr. Keep carrying his water to sow division while misrepresenting Christian men. Aren’t many of your viewers.. nevermind.”

But the Eagles aren’t the first NFL players to be wrongly associated with kneeling during the National Anthem. In response to the criticism of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest against police brutality, someone posted a photo of former NFL player Tim Tebow kneeling. The point was to accuse Tebow of kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest against legalized abortion.

The problem is that Tebow never kneeled during the National Anthem. He kneeled in prayer before. So did the Eagles.

There is a Snopes article dedicated to debunking the misuse of the Tebow photo. But you don’t need a website to figure out what’s wrong.

What’s happening behind Tebow and Eagles players can be a big clue as to whether or not they actually protested during the National Anthem.

If you look at Tebow’s photo, you’ll see the people behind him aren’t standing at attention with their hands on their hearts, which is customary when the National Anthem plays. People also have their hats on and are facing in various directions. If the National Anthem were playing when Tebow was kneeling, everyone would be looking like they’ve stopped what they’re doing. In the Tebow photo, a lot of people look like they would if they were walking around the sidelines before the game. The same is true of many of the photos of Eagles players.

Photographs alone aren’t always trustworthy. They’re a snapshot in time. It’s important to study the entire photograph before you pass judgement on what someone is doing.

Kaepernick and Allen represent two sides of the same argument

If you were against Colin Kaepernick being punished or fired by the 49ers or the NFL for repeatedly kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016, you also have to be against repercussions for Josh Allen for his racist and controversial tweets.

Allen, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills April 26, wrote Tweets that contained the N-word and other offensive language.

“Niggas Trying To Get At Me,” wrote Allen in 2013. “Why are you so white ? — If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!” wrote Allen in 2013. “Bout to show up these Niggas at pong,” wrote Allen in 2012.

According to ESPN, Allen apologized for the tweets and took responsibility for them.
“I hope you know and others know I’m not the type of person I was at 14 and 15 that I tweeted so recklessly . . . I don’t want that to be the impression of who I am because that is not me. I apologize for what I did.”

If history is any guide, many of the people who wanted Kaepernick to suffer some kind of penalty for expressing himself in an “unacceptable” way will suddenly not want to see Allen punished for simply saying something offensive. Especially something that happened years ago. And, many of the people who wanted nothing to happen to Kaepernick for saying something offensive, will suddenly want Allen to suffer some kind of punishment. It’s become America’s new favorite pastime: only giving moral support to people we like or agree with. Baseball was definitely a better pastime.

Collin Kaepernick Kneeling

While it’s true that these situations are different – one was about spewing racism and the other was about fighting racism in police departments, real or imagined – in some ways they aren’t. We’re not talking about two men who committed crimes here. Their only offense was giving offense. Thankfully, that’s still not a crime.

Nothing they said contributed to an illegal act, caused property damage, or resulted in a loss of life. People were simply offended, and some of them demanded retribution. They may have gotten it with Kaepernick, who still hasn’t been resigned to another team. But that doesn’t mean Allen should share his fate.

But it also doesn’t mean these men are entitled to escape the consequences of their actions. Employers still have the right, even the NFL, to fire players who are hurting their bottom line. If a Kaepernick or an Allen say or do something that causes a loss in revenue or hurts their respective teams, the owner can decide to fire, trade, suspend, or bench them. Part of freedom of speech is that we also have to accept the consequences of what we say. Sometimes, those consequences mean we might be hated and loved at the same time.

It also means we might not be as gainfully employed as we’d like to be.