Were the leaders right to fine Jacques del Rio?

Give the Washington Football Association credit for it: they always find a new, creative way to fail.

This time, it’s a gruesome collision between truth, opinion, and punishment. Jack Del Rio, the Washington Leaders Defense Coordinator, spent several days last week explaining the relative differences between the riots that broke out during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and the riots that broke out in and around the Capitol on January 3. 6, 2021.

It wouldn’t surprise you to learn that a professional soccer coach did not have an accurate understanding of a fraught and complex political moment in our nation’s history. It also wouldn’t surprise you to learn that a professional football organization responded completely the wrong way.

“Simple question. Why don’t we look,” Del Rio said on June 8. [the riots at the protests]If we were to talk about it [the Capitol riot]. Why don’t we look at these things? …I watch pictures on TV, people’s livelihoods are destroyed, businesses are burned, there is no problem. And then we have trash in the Capitol, nothing burned, and we’re going to make this big deal.”

Del Rio’s tweets and comments were the sort of normative “I’m just asking questions” superficial Wahhabist issue that plagued our entire national discourse – If my side did something bad, your side did something worseAnd the Why don’t we focus on X instead of Yaround and around it. Any reasonable points are lost in the rush to own the other side.

On the other hand, del Rio was highlighting an undeniably tragic element in the riots that occurred during the BLM protests, lives lost and livelihoods destroyed. On the other hand, apples are compared to engine oil by focusing only on outcome From that and Jan. 6, not Intentions.

The topic is not the real issue here. It is the response. Put aside what Del Rio said, and focus on what happened after, after he said that.

Del Rio has suffered reputational consequences, which is apt. Anytime you say something that others find objectionable, they will also find you objectionable. Del Rio has also suffered some serious financial consequences, and this is where that gets tough.

(Illustration by Michael Wagstaff/Yahoo Sports)

And Ron Rivera, the chiefs’ technical director, fined Del Rio $100,000, a colossal sum for listing facts and asking questions – however informally expressed – about those facts.

Sure, the motive for the fine is that Washington is trying to build a new stadium a few miles from the Capitol, and Del Rio’s impromptu comments make the team more toxic than it already is. But Rivera coined the fine in political terms, and that’s where the tip of the tree comes out.

Rivera said on Tuesday that this is not an issue of free speech, and he is right. Again: The First Amendment protects your right to free speech without government interference; It does not protect you from the consequences of that speech. The federal government is not coming for Jacques del Rio. (Although the soccer team has been calling for federal intervention…)

People celebrating the fine and calling for Del Rio’s job might want to think hard and hard about the precedent they’re setting up here, trying to get someone fired for a hateful political statement. If you think del Rio should go, are you sure you didn’t say something in the past that might reflect badly on you now? You are truly surely? Are you betting on your career?

Del Rio isn’t blameless here either. “Just asking questions” is a defense only if you are willing to listen to the answers to these questions, and Del Rio’s apparent inability, 18 months later, to realize the seriousness of January. 6 indicates that he’s not very interested in hearing anything that goes against what he already thinks.

We can put forward the hypotheses for another three hours. Why do we not see a punishment for the political views of the left? What if Del Rio lost the locker room? What if his speech normalizes anti-BLM sentiment? This is amazing, not discussed. When we frame the questions ourselves, we give ourselves the luxury of preparing the answers we want to hear. Dealing with facts and only facts leads us from Del Rio’s words to a chilling place.

Punishment only enforces silence. If your goal is to really change people’s minds, not just shut them down, don’t do that by firing them, charging them with six-figure fines or scaling their name on social media. You change their mind by getting them to see a different point of view than theirs, to get out of the little nest of social media and augmented half-truths we’re all so busy with.

Instead of a Del Rio fine, commanders could have him sit down with a Capitol police officer or 20 people who could explain exactly why the riots were much more than a “flick,” regardless of the relative levels of property damage. The team could hear his point, too. This is how we come to common ground…I know it’s a foreign and unwanted concept now.

puncture bubbles. Discuss divergent viewpoints. imagine that.


Connect with Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at jaybusbee.

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