It’s Friday, time for the mailbag to help you escape from the every day doldrums of work.
As always you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
So here we go:
Lots of you sent variations of this email, what do you think about Megyn Kelly getting fired?
First, it’s hard for me to feel bad for someone who gets paid $87 million for one year’s work and will walk away, reportedly, with $69 million. I thought Auburn was set up for a messy divorce from Gus Malzahn, but this makes that seem like child’s play.
At least Malzahn won an SEC title, went to a national title game, and has played in another SEC title game before Auburn gave him huge money. Megyn Kelly had never worked for NBC before and now she’s going to receive nearly a hundred million for one year’s work.
Damn, that’s fantastic.
But on a larger scale, I think this is a failure of the show’s staff as much as it’s Megyn Kelly’s failure. Television shows are planned events. Did no one on the staff know that Megyn Kelly was going to come out and say she’d grown up with people wearing blackface and that she didn’t see anything wrong with it? I agree with her that political correctness has taken over when it comes to Halloween costumes — and virtually everything else in this country — but that’s a pretty tone deaf statement to make.
It suggests she’s surrounded by not a very intelligent or diverse staff. (And I don’t mean diverse by color, necessarily, I mean diverse by having a variety of opinions).
Megyn Kelly’s only eight years older than me, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen a white person dress up as a black person wearing blackface as part of the costume. And if it had happened I think it would have been a pretty big deal at either my high school, my college, or my law school. Certainly I’d cringe if I were at a party and someone showed up in blackface.
Now I do think sometimes we overreact — there are always kids in college who show up at blackout stadium events completely covered in black paint. That isn’t black face because they aren’t pretending to be a black person, they are just dressing up all in black and covering their skin to match their clothes. Yet inevitably social media will lose its mind when those kids are shown on camera.
My general position on Halloween costumes is this — everyone should be able to dress up as everyone else, just don’t put on blackface. (I also don’t think black people should put on white face either, unless they’re dressing up as mimes). I think that’s a pretty simple rule.
But if a white kid wants to dress up as the Black Panther or a black kid wants to dress up as Thor, I think that’s fantastic because it means that kid is responding to the superhero’s character, not his skin color. That’s exactly what we want to have happen in this country, for everyone to be judged based on something other than what they look like.
As a general rule, I think you should ask yourself this — is the payoff worth it? If you’ve got a kickass Adolf Hitler costume, is that costume worth the reaction it will engender? Is it worth losing your job over? Do you really need to dress up as Flavor Flav and cover yourself in blackface? Was that Donald Trump costume really worth the white face?
Most of this is just common sense, which is, I think we can all agree, way too uncommon.
Having said all of this, I think the fact that Megyn Kelly’s opinion on Halloween costumes is a major national story is pretty wild too. Did NBC really need to cover it on the national news? Did it need to be a Today Show segment? It seems to me that many at NBC didn’t like her and were looking for a reason to force her out. Seriously, think about all that is going on in the world and NBC chose to spend two days on their national news talking about Megyn Kelly’s opinion on Halloween costumes? It seems like top brass at NBC wanted her gone and used this story to hasten her exit.
Furthermore, I genuinely abhor the idea that there are “acceptable” and “unacceptable” opinions. If Megyn Kelly really didn’t know the history of blackface or just misspoke on her live TV show, is that really a fireable offense? I have a radical idea, sometimes people screw up. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be immediately fired for their screw up.
As many of you who listen to my radio, Periscope and Facebook show, live local radio interviews, or watch me on TV can readily attest, I screw up every day. When you do live media all day long, you aren’t going to be perfect. Particularly when you talk about a variety of subjects.
I operate with what is evidently now a crazy presumption, assume someone isn’t an awful person. That is, assume that everyone is, like you and me, imperfect and not always the best at sharing their opinions or telling a joke or analyzing a situation. Sometimes, gasp, people really do make mistakes and it doesn’t reflect that they are an awful person.
Having said all of this, what I find most fascinating about the Megyn Kelly imbroglio is more forward thinking — what obligations do parents have, for instance, to share old racist stereotypes with our kids to ensure they don’t do something that was racist 100 years ago and isn’t common now? For instance, my kids have no idea about minstrel shows or comparing black people to gorillas. Just like they don’t know anything about antisemitism or other pejorative racial categorizations. Should I tell them about all these racist things to make sure they aren’t racist. I guess so, but doesn’t that also just spread the knowledge of pejorative racial antiquities?
Our strategy as parents as has been pretty straightforward — treat every single person the exact same regardless of what they look like.
And so far as I can tell my kids do that.
Now they’re certainly aware of some levels of historical racism, but do we really need to sit down and lay out all of these things that happened over a hundred years ago that otherwise they’d have no knowledge of? I’m torn on this.
Also, and I’ve asked this question before, what’s the time limit on historical outrage? There are many left wingers today demanding that statutes of Confederate generals be torn down, but no one is demanding that the Julius Caesar statue be torn down at Caesar’s palace. That’s because even though Caesar helmed up an empire that enslaved far more people, it was comparatively long ago.
So when do we just move on and acknowledge things weren’t perfect in the past, but we don’t have to be perpetually outraged about them either.
I was born in 1979 and attended integrated schools my entire life. I went to a high school named after Martin Luther King, Jr. I don’t believe I have seen an act of direct and overt racism in my entire life. Maybe that’s an aberration and many of you reading this have seen direct and overt racism, but I don’t think it is, I think direct and overt racism is fairly rare.
That’s why we spend so much time talking about systemic racism and other hidden elements of racism in the country.
I think most people in this country of all races are pretty good, I really do. I tend to like most people I meet and get along with them.
So why is our country — particularly in a social media era — so quickly to assume the absolute worsts of everyone?
If I go into my Twitter feed right now and check my mentions there will be someone every day, frequently dozens of people, who are telling me that I’m pure evil.
Really, pure evil? The guy who wakes up and does a three hour sports radio show then sits down at his computer and writes this column then eats lunch with his four year old and finishes off my day by giving sports gambling picks and then sits down and eats dinner with his three kids is pure evil?
I just don’t get it.
We have lost all ability to utilize nuance in this country. Everything is either the best thing that has ever existed or the worst thing that has ever existed and nothing is in between.
Megyn Kelly said something ignorant — she legitimately seems to have been unaware of the racial history of black face in this country — and then apologized for it, but I think her intent here wasn’t awful. It was to presume that someone’s intent isn’t to be racist with their Halloween costume. In general, I think that’s correct. I don’t think most people dress up for Halloween with the intent to be racist.
For instance, I’m sure there is going to be a white, Asian or Hispanic family somewhere in America this year who lets a young kid dress up as LeBron James in a Laker jersey and wear black face. That kid will want to do it because he loves LeBron James, which is the reason most little kids want to wear costumes. And the parents may let him do it because they are ignorant of America’s racial history. (They might well be immigrants and honestly not know any of the history). Does that make them awful racists? I don’t think so. They will have just made a mistake because they aren’t aware of contemporary values in that country. If you or I suddenly found ourselves in India or China are you confident you’d get your kids dressed up without violating any societal norms? I’m not.
To me this entire imbroglio says more about NBC — that they’re willing to pay her $69 million and fire her over this — than it does about Megyn Kelly.
“I disagree with everything about this case. I don’t think you should go to jail for paying someone to go play college basketball or college football.” – @ClayTravis on the Adidas basketball corruption trial pic.twitter.com/rg2xlN3PaZ
— Outkick the Coverage (@Outkick) October 26, 2018
“Clay – Love to get your take on this.
Bama, Clemson, & Notre Dame all winning out isn’t that far fetched at this point. The Big 10, Pac 12, and Big XII champs each having 2+ losses could also happen easily. If that scenario occurs, do you think an undefeated UCF/USF makes the playoff as a non-power 5?”
It’s an interesting hypothesis, but I don’t think the committee will ever put a non-power 5 in when there are teams with two losses who won major conferences.
Think of it this way, what would draw more interest — Alabama against Central Florida or Alabama against two loss Ohio State or Michigan?