As the NFL draft rolls around, all the talk centers around “character guys” – those players who have sterling off-the-field reputations. You know, as opposed to people who are constantly in trouble with the legal system by way of DUIs, domestic abuse, drug-use, assault, battery, and even murder.
The NFL doesn’t want bad-character people around. They’re not a good long-term investment. They create distractions in the locker room. The tarnish the reputation of their teams and of the NFL itself.
It is a far from perfect system. You have people like Tim Tebow, for example. Most people would probably agree that treating people like animals is a bad-character trait. But nobody affiliated with the NFL is suggesting that Tim Tebow is a bad-character guy. All the talk centers on his future role with the Jets, or whether he has a future in the NFL anywhere.
They talk about Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib’s off-field problems, and perhaps the difference is that Tebow hasn’t broken the law. But don’t bad character traits apply whether you break the law or not? Some people were probably cheered by Tebow’s announcement that he had decided not to keep his “hate date ” with Robert Jeffress: he would not speak at Jeffress’ megachurch after receiving new information about the bigoted pastor.
Anti-gay bully Rick Warren reacted by saying Tebow had been “bullied.”
Bryan Fischer, who already has a Tim Tebow fixation, literally went nuts, if by that you understand me to mean he surpassed his already nutty behavior. Renounce hate? Are you crazy, Tim Tebow? God wants you to hate people, dammit! Forget the wicked French. Forget Freedom Fries. Enter #TebowCaves.
A culture war victory for liberalism? Not so fast.
Instead of Jeffress’ megachurch, Tebow is going to be talking at Liberty University on Friday, March 8. Liberty University is NOT a step up on the evolutionary tree. If the Jeffress’ incident had been a culture war victory, Tebow would not be speaking at Liberty University either.
In fact, it has been argued, Liberty University is a step backward. Sure, Jeffress says Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism, are religions “from the pit of hell.” But things don’t get any better at Liberty. Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch discussed some of the differences between the venues yesterday. His analysis should dispel any idea that Tebow may have turned down Jeffress because he disagrees with him:
Liberty University bans gay students and shut down its College Democrats chapter over the party’s views on gay rights. The university has hosted multiple anti-gay conferences and their law school is being sued over its alleged role in helping Lisa Miller disobey a court order and kidnap her daughter to Central America in order to avoid transferring custody to the girl’s other mother, her former partner.
Liberty University’s Vice President and law school dean Mathew Staver has defended the criminalization of homosexuality in Malawi, promoted the dangerous ex-gay therapy and warned that President Obama supports “forced homosexuality.” Furthermore, Staver has claimed that gay rights laws are part of an Antichrist spirit that lead to crime, child molestation and death, along with the destruction of America.
That’s Matt Stever. How about Matt Barber?
Staver’s fellow Liberty University dean Matt Barber has defended a Nigerian law outlawing homosexual relationships, described the gay rights movement as “Satanic,” claimed that gay youth who committed suicide took their own lives because they “know what they are doing is unnatural,” accused gay rights advocates of supporting pedophilia (along with fascism and Communism) and defined homosexuality as “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.'” He has also maintained that liberals are like Baal worshippers who hate God and are working with Islamists to destroy Christianity and that Obama should be impeached for backing same-sex domestic partner benefits.
As Tashman concludes, “If Jeffress’ anti-gay remarks were too extreme for Tebow, they pale in comparison to the things regularly said by representatives of Liberty University.”
At what point then, does literally demonizing your fellow citizens, endorsing treating them like second-class citizens, make you a bad-character person?
What Tebow seems to have realized is that Jeffress’ megachurch is much too public a venue. He will be speaking behind closed doors at Liberty University. The public won’t be allowed in, which is the major difference between university and megachurch. The intolerance and bigotry is the same; merely a matter of degree.
You would think people would be ashamed of being associated with what amount to a bunch of Neo-Nazis with their embrace of 19th century pseudo-scientific views and authoritarian mindset. Oppression and suppression are so 30’s, after all. We fought a war against a political party that portrayed Jews in the same way Republicans now portray gays and lesbians. The only real difference is that the Nazis could get away with murdering Jews, while Republicans can’t – quite – murder gays. But that limitations applies only to these shores. Africa is still a place where you can reach out and murder someone.
American conservatism as embodied in the modern GOP, which is as much a religion as a political ideology, has, in contrast to the NFL, become a haven for bad character guys. Jesus had a point when he warned against casting the first stone: nobody is perfect. But that does not mean people should go out of their way to be evil. And that is precisely what the modern Republican Party has done. Really, the neo-Nazis and KKK might as well pack their bags and go home. We don’t need them in America. They’re superfluous: We already have the GOP.
(You can sign a petition asking Tim Tebow to not speak at Liberty University here: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2518/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12691 )
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.