Opinion: ESPN and the rise of ‘stubiquity’

None of these men will be in a broadcast booth anytime soon, even if the Blue-Gray Game is revived.

I know it’s only August, but we may have reached peak 2017, the year that apparently watched 2016 in all its insanity and said, “Hold my beer and watch this.”

I’m referring to the decision by ESPN to switch a play-by-play announcer from the upcoming Virginia vs. William and Mary football game to another broadcast because of his name: Robert Lee. The network now claims it was afraid Lee, whose lineage is not Confederate but Asian, would become the target of internet memes and social-media posts because of the violence two weekends ago related to a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, where the Sept. 2 game will be played.

The story, first reported by frequent ESPN critic Clay Travis of OutkickTheCoverage.com, was so outrageously absurd that it seemed made-up. But often these days, the truth is stranger than fake news. And it points to a phenomenon for which I’d like to suggest a name:

Stubiquity.

The ubiquity of stupidity.

It would seem paradoxical that we are surrounded by ignorance and foolishness. Never in human history has so much knowledge been so readily accessible by so many people. Never have so many become so specialized in their pursuits or fields of study. We should be awash in expertise, going from strength to strength in both intellect and wisdom. In some respects, we are.

Yet, so much of our public discourse, and so much of the decision-making by our institutions both public and private, grows steadily stupider. It’s not wisdom, nor often something so basic as fact, that holds sway. Political correctness and over-protectiveness do, as in the ESPN case, play into it. But they don’t fully explain why it feels more and more like we’re beset by idiocy.

Rather than the cream rising to the top on social media or, increasingly, the traditional media, we instead are constantly dragged down by the dumb. Worse than that, we revel in it. The more bumper-stickerish a thought, the greater its popular appeal. Heck, that’s basically the entire premise of Twitter. Only a world choking on stubiquity would greet the internet’s offer of limitless space for expressing and hashing out ideas and enhancing our understanding of one another with an ethos of tl;dr but I’m gonna comment anyway.

It was funny back when humor was the main objective. It’s not anymore. Increasingly, outrage is the sentiment people seek to express on social media.

Yes, ESPN was being overly, ridiculously protective of Lee and was foolish to think no one would catch wind of his quiet change of assignment. It’s a safe bet Lee has gotten more unwanted attention in the last day than he would have gotten during and after his broadcast of the game in Charlottesville. But you know what? There is also a non-zero chance the network was correct to think someone, somewhere, would react to a man named Robert Lee announcing a game played in Charlottesville not with just memes or jokes of varying degrees of humor and crudeness, but with a sense of outrage and indignation — and that their outrage would spiral into a full-blown PR crisis. After all, we love to elevate the stray stupid comment as somehow representative of “the other side” or, even stupider, our own. (The next time you see something mind-numbingly stupid a celebrity has tweeted about politics, regardless of their political persuasion, check out how many times it is liked or retweeted, and how many people express agreement with it in the mentions. It’ll drive you to daytime drinking.) Thus are we treated to the spectacle of a corporation doing something stupid, to prevent a potential act of stupidity that would cause the company and its announcer a headache.

Understand, I’m not defending ESPN’s action here. I’m just pointing out that people will do stupid things when they’re afraid others will do stupid things. Stubiquity prevails.

And unless I underestimate online America in 2017, the responses to ESPN’s decision will only amplify the stupidity, whether in defense or disagreement. The network’s only saving grace? Someone will come along and do something even dumber before too long.

 

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274 comments
Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Another view of the "many sides".


https://radicaldiscipleship.net/2017/08/23/my-nonviolent-stance-was-met-with-heavily-armed-men/


A post from Logan Rimel, parish administrator at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley (CA). Logan traveled to Charlottesville during the weekend of August 5 to bear witness with his friends at Charis Community Cville.

Some thoughts on nonviolence post-Charlottesville:

TLDR: White Christians, if you aren’t willing to personally take a bat to the head, shut up about antifa.

[...]

Let me take a moment to be clear – I do not advocate for violence. I trust, however pig-headedly, that all of creation – including all people – is both capable and worthy of salvation. That there is no such thing as a lost cause with God. I cannot explain this trust; it is a part of me deeper than rational faculty. To commit violence against another human being is to commit violence against the image of God in them. To me, it is a sin. I do not believe God requires us to sin. But it seems apparent to me that the world sometimes does.

I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Nitpicky point, but for Luckovich's rendering of the statue to have been accurate, Gen. Lee should be actively lashing his "property," given that this was a punishment the man was rather happy to have administered to unruly slaves.


http://tinyurl.com/y8m4e67z

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

The president conductor full speed on the twitter train. Wondering why McConnell doesn't get rid of filibuster rule to pass legislative bills. This is in chapter 3 in art of the deal book.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Great observation, Kyle.

Sanity is taking a back seat to stupidity these days.

Rage rules? 

breckenridge
breckenridge

Two republicans and former members of the US Congress - John Danforth of Missouri and Mike Rogers of Michigan - ripped Trump hard today.  Danforth called him "the most divisive president in history" and said "our party has been corrupted by this hateful man." 


Trump is at war with the republican party, a war he started.  And as each day passes he finds himself more and more isolated.  Congressional republicans are going  to completely wash their hands of him.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


What a side show. A president and a congress of the same party at odds with each other. Nothing is going to get done. How soon until the market realizes tax reform is not happening. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

Trump is threatening to shut down the government if the new budget does not contain money to pay for a wall on our southern border.  That would be the very same wall Trump repeatedly said that Mexico would pay for.


What a fraud, what con man, what a huckster Donald Trump is.

Caius
Caius

@breckenridge Trump is not going to shut down government.  He is not going to do anything but talk, tweet and travel. He has done nothing else since being sworn in as President. 

President Trump does not get into anything that is complicated and requires serious study/thinking time.

I do not believe he is just dumb but the evidence does indicate he is just plain lazy.

And forget about impeachment.  Should not and will not happen. He may resign; close Trump friends say he is miserable and hates the job.


breckenridge
breckenridge

At least 3 republicans (Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, John Kasich) are already talking about some republican challenging Trump in 2020.  Not only will that happen but some other republican will be the GOP candidate.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


No way this is going to happen. The Repubs are toothless when disarming Trump. That dog has no bite.

jamesatl
jamesatl

This is where PC leads. The reason PC itself is such an idiotic idea. We've dumbed ourselves down collectively, in the 21st century no less, to where this seems like the "nicest" thing to do. Being stupid and vapid and willfully ignorant (not to mention aggressive) is the new nice. In a PC world. But in the real world it's just good ole fashioned stupid. The moron at ESPN who made this "executive decision" should be fired immediately.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@jamesatl


Read my post below. ESPN made the decision not based on political correctness, but to protect its employee. I, for one, do not want to be at the center of the social media zoo-niverse.

bu22
bu22

@McGarnagle @jamesatl  Only someone drowned in PC madness, as ESPN is, would think this was to protect the employee.

breckenridge
breckenridge

August 24 - Roger Stone, one of President Trump’s oldest and most-trusted advisers, warned that any politician who voted to impeach Donald Trump “will endanger their own life.”

 

Stone began by taunting members of Congress who were calling for Trump’s impeachment. “Try to impeach him, just try it!,” Stone exclaimed. He then promised that, if Trump was impeached, there would be a violent, armed response.

Yeah, I can see why he and Trump are good buddies.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

The mess really isn't about the Confederate monuments.

Nope

It's about the radical Left including Obama and his lackeys not liking America as founded and evolved.

They would wipe it all including The Constitution and write their own.

But even those dunderheads know that's not gonna happen so they zero-in using the race card (aren't you tired of their whining) on the easy targets.

The petition at WhiteHouse.gov is on the money.

Antifa is a terrorist organization and must be officially labeled as such.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@SGTGrit  The monuments shouldn't be on state/federal grounds..they should be in a museum.   None of this was much of an issue during any past president's reign.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@JohnnyReb @SGTGrit  Blame the WN and Neo-Nazi for their march in Charlottesville.  Now a lot of cities are looking to do the same.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@BuckeyeGa @SGTGrit 

The monuments should be where ever the local population wants them. This destruction is being perpetrated by violent groups who try to hide behind the label of anti-fascists. They're anarchists, communists, and black nationalists who behave like fascists.

bu22
bu22

@SGTGrit @BuckeyeGa  And it should be the local "population," not a small mob forcing its will on the majority.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@SGTGrit @BuckeyeGa  The local population in Charlottesville wanted the statue removed yet the WN and Neo Nazi's marched and tried to initiate the local people...somehow you didn't specify those groups.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@BuckeyeGa @SGTGrit  No this was an arbitrary decision made by the city council. It was not made by the voters. 


McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Back to the topic at hand. This puts things in perspective. Seems ESPN had Robert Lee's best interest in mind. And for that I commend them


"This wasn't about offending anyone. It was about the reasonable possibility that because of his name he would be subjected to memes and jokes and who knows what else. Think about it. Robert Lee comes to town to do a game in Charlottesville," ESPN said in a statement that was tweeted late Tuesday night. "No politically correct efforts. No race issues. Just trying to be supportive of a young guy who felt it best to avoid the potential zoo." It was a mutual decision, the network says, to switch Lee to the Youngstown State versus Pittsburgh game that same day.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@McGarnagle 

Well at least ESPN recognizes the intolerance of the zoo and their potential for violence.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Starik @McGarnagle @SGTGrit


We can call out political correctness. But in this case, social media madness was the concern. Even if just to make a joke or meme.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@McGarnagle

Based on my read of his blog-post, I don't know that Kyle would disagree with any of this.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Visual_Cortex @McGarnagle


Initially I thought ESPN did a bad move. But after reading about it, I think they did the right move. Only problem was they didn't make it public at first. Only after it came to light, everyone came up with their own reasons why it happen. Robert Lee wants to do his job. Not be at the center of facebook posts and twitter memes.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@McGarnagle  I missed that part of the story and I understand they were looking out for their employee.

breckenridge
breckenridge

I voted for Trump, and will vote for him again.  If he runs, he will win again... He will win because he is the anti politician that this country needs.

 Donald Trump will not be the republican candidate for president in 2020.  That aside, his presidency to date has been a spectacular failure.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge 

We heard that he wouldn't be the nominee loud and often last year and look what happened. As for success if you're metric is a popularity contest based solely on personality, perhaps it could arguably be said that he's failed. If the metric is restoring confidence in the privates business sector, restoring Americas status as a world power, listening to the military leaders instead of micro managing them, reducing illegal immigration and standing up the the Washington D.C. establishment along with the media he's been a success. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


I think this is a pipe dream. Trump's core base is enough to win Repub nomination. And he's already started his 2020 bid. Dems should start thinking who they want to run and begin to put the spotlight on them. From what I hear, as long as its not another Clinton, they got a decent shot.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

He's been a success? My goodness are you ever delusional.

Good to see him fighting with the republicans.  He's not a conservative, and hopefully every republican in Congress will end up hating his worthless f-ing guts.

Starik
Starik

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  What, exactly has Trump done to restore America's status as a world power? Alienating our allies? 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@McGarnagle @breckenridge 

Obama ran on a platform of transforming America but that wasn't what got him elected. He was young, charismatic, cool, suave and he was the first Black presidential candidate. History was in the making and many wanted to jump on board. Trump who has none of those characteristics ran as an anti establishment populist who appealed to the conservative traditionalists and working class populists who felt left behind in a changing America.


The Democrats will need to find an economic pro-growth, pro-military economic centrist with the aforementioned Obama characteristics to have a chance of winning in 2020. Don't know who that might be. Polls have Trump down but Democrats aren't popular themselves. Their financial contributions have been dismal.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @breckenridge What, exactly has Trump done to restore America's status as a world power? Alienating our allies? 

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @Starik @breckenridge  Australia doesn't feel that way, nor do the South Koreans. NATO is spending money on its own defense because they can't rely on the US anymore. Our adversaries?  Not all children are afraid of clowns. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit @Starik @McGarnagle @breckenridge


I agree Trump won the blue collar working class that Dems took for granted. Hoping they find a middle america, rust belt, common sense, intelligent, and somewhat charismatic candidate.


I m thinking a Bernie-like candidate could win. Just not another Clinton-elite insider. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @breckenridge 

I believe you're wrong about Australlia, we've had strong military ties since WWII. South Korea know that they have no other choice but to depend on us as do NATO. Anglia Merkle is not NATO.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @Starik @breckenridge  Trump offends everyone. All this "America First" stuff is offensive. Remember, Australia and South Korea had substantial fighting forces in Vietnam, and they were both very effective. NATO isn't responding to Trump's demands to improve their militaries. They realize they can't rely on the USA as long as Trump is infesting the White House. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@McGarnagle @breckenridge

Dems should start thinking who they want to run and begin to put the spotlight on them. 

I think any energy, resources, mojo, whatever you want to call it, should be focused on the mid-terms.

2020 is an eternity away, really--there are so many circumstances that could change. And besides, there are plenty of Dems out there already who can make a credible run once the midterms are over.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Starik @McGarnagle @SGTGrit @breckenridge

What you call "far left" is just simple populist stuff that resonates with voters. 

Don't weaken, expand Social Security. 

More funding for vocational training and college. 

Break up the trusts. 

Increase the minimum wage.

Hugely popular.


SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @breckenridge @SGTGrit 

I could reverse that question by asking you what hasn't he done? You did, however, provide one but he hasn't alienated our allies conversely he's gained more support. NATO has upped their financial commitments, our allies believe there is now an American president that they can depend on and our adversaries know that they can no longer take us for granted.