One unfortunate aspect of professional athletes using Twitter is that it leads, invariably, to a greater insight into what they think.
Of course, this isn’t the end of the world if their views happen to line up with yours. But if they don’t, for many, that’s a problem.
I’ve never been quite sure as to why; an athlete’s worldview has no bearing on whether they can succeed at their sport. Unless the athlete is espousing a racist, violent, or homophobic (i.e. harmful) ideology, I don’t really see that what they believe is anybody’s business. But for some, it’s not enough for the athlete to do sports well — he or she also has see the world the right way (i.e. their way).
I think it’s a foolish approach to sports fandom that only increases the avenues through which a member of your favourite team can disappoint you.
Since descending on Twitter, David Booth has disappointed many. His right-wing views have offended the sensibilities of Vancouver’s left-leaning populace, and in the midst of this lockout, where he can’t possibly score the goals necessary to mitigate the importance of who he is off the ice (let’s call this “the Todd Bertuzzi effect”), public opinion of the Canuck winger only drops.
But it really isn’t fair. Sure, Booth’s opinions don’t reflect the consensus in Metro Vancouver, but the flak he gets over voicing them is completely unreasonable.
Canucks fans would prefer Booth was more like Kevin Bieksa, who had this to say in the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary:
Unless your a cop or in the Army not sure why u have access to guns. I’m 31 & never fired anything and am doing fine in life. #figureitoutUS
— Kevin Bieksa (@kbieksa3) December 14, 2012
This fit nicely with much of the local sentiment in the wake of that heartbreaking tragedy and — disclosure alert — I agreed with it too. Gun control laws in the United States are too lax. While those sorts of tragedies are never going to be completely eradicated so long as humans exist, I believe they would have a lower rate of occurrence and a lower body count if it were harder to procure the sort of efficient murder weapons so commonly used to commit them. The same day as the Sandy Hook shootings, a man attacked a school in China with a knife. He cut 23 students through a fence. But no one died, because his range of attack extended no further than the blade of the knife fit through the fence. Scary? Yes. Lethal? No.
Fewer guns will equal fewer dead in fewer mass slaughters. That’s my personal opinion, it’s Bieksa’s opinion, and I would say it’s the personal opinion of more than half of Bieksa’s followers. But it’s not everyone’s opinion.
David Booth, for instance, may share a similar follower base to Bieksa; he doesn’t share the opinion. Booth pointed to something else that might mitigate tragedies of this sort: Jesus. Or, in his own words in a follow-up tweet, “Teaching morals.”
Can’t get over yesterday. Still thinking about CT. Wondering… with all the thoughts & PRAYERS why not bring Christ back into the schools?
— David Booth (@D_Booth7) December 15, 2012
Understandably, Booth elicited a very different reaction.
Obviously, the Michigan-born winger isn’t alone in thinking this way. It’s an opinion shared by many right-wingers (and, frankly, some Bible-believing left-wingers) that America messed up big-time when it took pre-class prayer from school systems. “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” said Mike Huckabee in the wake of the tragedy, echoing an old Christian anecdote where a concerned student asks God why there’s so much violence in schools, only for God to respond, “I’m not allowed in schools”.
Now, I don’t agree. Heck, I was raised Charismatic Christian and homeschooled with Bible-based curriculum (A Beka books, which is featured prominently in this article), and I’ve never agreed. It’s always seemed to me that if I’m a parent of a certain religion, I don’t want my kids made to observe the rites of another religion at school. The Christians pushing for prayer in schools would be furious if schools handed out prayer rugs and made the children perform Salah. But kids aren’t made to perform Salah, because not every kid is a Muslim.
This has to work both ways, otherwise we’re mandating religion, and that seems like a clear infringement of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is not, as the Right Wing likes to say, what the founding fathers would have wanted. So let the kids pray at home.
That said, I certainly don’t feel that we should be directing scorn at Booth, Huckabee, or the many others that believe the tragedy at Sandy Hook is attributed to prayer-free classrooms. If they were cheering the tragedy for teaching us a lesson about secularizing education, that would be one thing. But for them to express the same grief, confusion, disillusionment and despair as the rest of us, then polemicize about the root cause as seen through the prism of their worldview — well, that’s what everyone did.
And yet Booth was fully vilified over it. It’s silly and it needs to stop.
For one thing, I think a lot of Booth-haters suffers from a fundamental misunderstanding, which is that every single right-winger is a racist, homophobic, Bible-thumping, gun-crazed Tea Party nut. There are people that are all of those things. They are just awful. But plenty of right-wingers aren’t like that.
As proof, consider that Booth was attacked for being a gun nut when he isn’t one. The man hunts with a crossbow. In response to a fan that told him to “take his guns and BS and get out of town”, Booth responded, “I’m not in town and I don’t have guns.”
Booth gets attacked for being a lot of things that he isn’t. Truth is, while he’s said plenty of things people have disagreed with, he’s never voiced a hateful opinion. The worst he’s done is legally hunt animals and refuse to stop when Twitter got mad about it. When was the last time you stopped doing something you enjoy because the Internet told you to?
I’m not saying you can’t disagree with David Booth. I disagree with him all the time. But so long as he’s being respectful, can we please just aim to respectfully disagree?
I understand there’s no hockey to argue about right now, but let’s cut him some slack.