Shut Up & Play, Unless I Like What You’re Saying.

If you’re a conservative, you likely believe that success comes from work ethic, skill, and maybe a tiny bit of luck. People get successful by plugging away, working their way up, and taking risks. Some “conservatives” also mix in several bankruptcies and being an orange-faced douche canoe, but that’s clearly not necessary to achieve success.

Now, I’ve written before about the idea that we’ve each got about a 1 in 100 shot at jumping more than one class level from where we’re born. And I’ve blogged about capitalism’s bent toward helping the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. I’ve ranted about the misguided glorification of entrepreneurship by the right. And yeah, I’ve written about plenty of other things that should give you a good indication that I’m a sissy pinko commie well-educated, intelligent, and compassionate liberal. I even know what the Oxford comma is AND I’m not afraid to use it. #nerd

As a liberal, I believe there’s a difference between fairness and equality. Sometimes we have to treat people differently in order to treat them justly. If equality demands that everyone goes to the 2nd floor, then fairness demands we let the kid in the wheelchair use the elevator to get there.

Conservatives, conversely, believe that everyone starts at zero and our life’s trajectory depends on our own hard work. They believe that the extent to which a person creates jobs is an outstanding proxy for that person’s worth to society. They cheered when Citizens United v. FEC held that the First Amendment’s speech protections extended to corporations, and corporations can only “speak” by spending money. If you’re a person in charge of a big company, you’re probably already in the 1%, which means your voice matters a lot. But now, you can spend the company’s money to influence elections and get even more pro-1% laws passed!

As Yakov Smirnoff would say, “What a country!”

In the conservative mindset, the more successful you are, the more expected and accepted it is that you’ll have more of a voice in determining the way the world works. Success is capitalism’s/God’s way of stamping your ever-expanding forehead with approval for your life’s work. And because money is how we mortals keep score, it’s simple logic: the more cash you have, the more you must understand how the game is played. Thus, the more we should let you influence the game.

That’s why I’m so confused at the right’s dismissal of professional athletes’ and actors’ opinions on political matters.

Think of what it takes to become a professional football player. The odds against someone making millions in the NFL are astounding. You have to be amazingly athletically talented to even have a chance. You needed to work your ass off from the time you were about 5-6 years old all the way through the present day. You have to be lucky enough to play a full-contact sport but never get permanently injured. And you have to keep working extremely hard, because the competitive nature of the league means someone is always gunning for your job. Don’t forget: you need to play for more than three years in order to possibly get to millionaire status, given the league’s rookie contracts.

Only about 1 in 1.1 million high school football players make it into the NFL. Only about 1 in 70,000 NCAA players make it in. Said differently, if you make it into the NFL, your hard work, natural talent, and a little luck all culminated in you receiving the rewards that come with being successful…as long as you don’t get hurt.

Or how about to become a famous actor? You’d need to have a knack for the dramatic arts, probably go through a lot of training, audition for thousands of roles, and get lucky as hell. The odds of becoming rich and famous as an actor are astronomically against you. Around 1 in 1.2 million, it seems. But if you make it, you get the rewards of being at the intersection of luck and skill in America: lots of money, and an influential voice.

If you were an electrician or a contractor or a doctor who defied the odds and became a millionaire, and then started voicing your political opinions, what would happen? Not a single conservative would glance up from reading Breitbart on the toilet. Your hard work, talent, and some luck all added up to give you the rewards you’d expect. You’re doing well for yourself, and you deserve to have your voice heard in the public forum.

If you’re an actor, you just need to entertain us. Shut up and stick to acting. If you’re a football player, we’re paying you to catch the ball, not think. Shut up and play.

But that’s not quite accurate. Logic rarely sufficiently explains conservative thinking, to be fair.

I don’t hear conservatives telling former Republican senatorial candidate Mike Ditka to stick to talking about Da Bears. I never see righties demanding that conservative bloody sock wearer Curt Schilling only comments on baseball. I’ve never witnessed Republican angst at Tom Brady for partially inflating Donald Trump’s war chest. (See what I did there?). And conservatives aren’t lining up to tell megastars like Chuck Woolery, Scott Baio, or Kirk Cameron to shut their yappers and just stick to…well, whatever it is those guys do these days.

As with most issues, righties employ a double standard. Like concealed carrying weapons, as long as you’re not Black. Or pushing abstinence-only sex education, and then having two kids out of wedlock. Or fighting against LGBTQ rights while getting fellated by a same-sex prostitute.

Winning at capitalism—every Republican’s favorite solution to the world’s ills—affords you a seat at the table and a voice in the nation’s affairs…as long as you say what THEY want you to say.

James Woods gets to be a mega-jerk and no one tells him to stick to acting. Especially not casting agents! Ted Nugent gets to threaten the life of President Obama, and the folks on the right don’t demand that he sticks to playing Cat Scratch Fever at Indian casinos. Hell, Kid Rock might become Senator Kid Rock in 2018, and not a single Republican is telling him to stick to being Michigan’s finest Southern (?) rebel without a hygiene regimen.

But George Clooney is an “elite” if he espouses a liberal opinion. Angelina Jolie is an out-of-touch millionaire for caring about the environment and refugees. Ellen and Oprah need to stick to being Ellen and Oprah for a living and leave politics to someone with their finger on the pulse of the real America…you know, like a billionaire Manhattan real estate developer turned reality television host.

And by all means, if you are a football player silently protesting the mistreatment of African-Americans by the justice system, that’s just a bridge too far. There’s no worse trigger for conservatives than bringing up racial injustice. Conservatives don’t care that you sacrificed and fought and worked for years to achieve your success. They don’t care that your success affords you a platform that you earned. They just know that you’re saying something they don’t want to hear, and they’re lashing out to try to make you STOP.

They’re missing Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity to watch this Thursday Night Football game. They didn’t tune in to get lectured on how they should think by an ungrateful, un-American millionaire jock. Know your place, quit your whining, and get back to entertaining us on the football field, boy.

Seems like the story’s the same, only the names have changed.



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Want to read more of my thoughts on the NFL national anthem protest saga?  Check out Don’t Get Mad AT Them, Get Mad WITH Them. Or try No Justice, No Peace. Or At Least No Football.

6 thoughts on “Shut Up & Play, Unless I Like What You’re Saying.

  1. An enjoyable read, as usual. And, as usual, you hit the nail on the head.

    But I can’t help thinking that pointing out the hypocrisy of conservatives is a losing game. They appear to know it, they embrace it, they’re proud of it, and if you don’t like it you should go live in North Korea with your snowflake triggers, and let them shoot you in the head, Or something.

    The Republican party spent decades honing the message that got conservatives to give up their own well-being in order to punish feminists, gays, people of color, Muslims, etc. All the while, the liberals kept thinking they could appeal to these people with logic. You can’t. They have repudiated logic, because it interferes with their God-given right to hate people for no good reason. They would rather punish everyone, including themselves, than allow a “lesser” person to win.

    When your enemy is the conservative mindset, and your only weapons are common sense and reason, you are disarming yourself from the get-go. If we want to turn things around, we need a new plan.

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