Sports fans watching the Sunday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend were subjected to an anti-gun homily from sportscaster Bob Costas. The scripted comments were prompted by the tragic murder of Kasandra Perkins and subsequent suicide of her murderer, Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher. Perkins was Belcher’s live-in girlfriend and the mother of his 3-month-old daughter. At this point, no one knows what set the football player off, but the tragedy triggered a scathing editorial from Fox Sports personality Jason Whitlock, whose comments were then repeated, in part, and endorsed by Costas during the Sunday night game.
Both Whitlock and Costas began their comments talking about distorted perspectives and the elevation of the game above all else, but then they both turned their passion and frustration toward guns, gun owners and the Second Amendment.
The first two-thirds of Whitlock’s editorial can be summed up in this short paragraph from the middle of the piece: “Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There’s just no way this game should be played.”
Whitlock then abruptly shifted his focus to blaming guns and America’s “gun culture” for Perkins and Belcher’s deaths, attacking “the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the Second Amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it” and suggesting that the right to bear arms could never protect us from a government willing to nuke us. (I would certainly hope that armed Americans would stand up and force a change long before the government became so corrupt as to be willing to drop nuclear bombs on its own people, but that’s as over-the-top as Whitlock’s comments.) “Our gun culture,” Whitlock wrongly asserted, “… ensures that more and more domestic disputes and convenience-store confrontations [will turn deadly.]” The facts say something else. Crime and murder have steadily gone down while guns and gun ownership have gone up dramatically.
Whitlock’s conclusion is that if Jovan Belcher “didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Obviously there’s no way that a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker in the midst of a violent rage could possibly have killed his 100-pound girlfriend if he hadn’t had a gun. One has to wonder if Costas and Whitlock remember the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.
Whitlock is a relatively minor player in the world of professional sports media, and his commentary would probably have received little notice had Costas, who is at the very pinnacle of the sports media world, not chosen to quote extensively from it during his own very high-profile sermonette. Costas subsequently backed up a bit and expressed his support for lawful gun ownership – with some government limitations – and claimed that his paraphrasing of Whitlock was misinterpreted. Meantime, basking in the glow of his newfound celebrity, Whitlock decided to take his insults up several notches on Monday when he made a brief appearance on a podcast hosted by CNN regular Roland S. Martin. During the five-minute interview, Whitlock criticized the NFL for going forward with the game, criticized the players for “memorializing” and “celebrating” Belcher by hanging his jersey up in their locker-room, and did his best to push the right buttons to inflame the controversy and increase the viral spread of his anti-gun comments and his name.
Whitlock declared, “I believe the NRA is the new KKK,” and suggested that the NRA and the “gun culture” are responsible for arming black youths and “loading up our (black) community with drugs.”
That’s not just racist and insulting, it’s downright idiotic.
He went on to decry the fallacy of people thinking that a gun “somehow makes them safer,” again ignoring facts such as the 2 million times each year people successfully use guns to stop criminal attacks. Finally he concluded by saying that, “if there’s no gun, potentially, it’s a domestic violence issue that doesn’t end in death. Maybe it ends in someone getting hurt and Jovan going to jail and getting some help, but, you know, any time you add a gun to a situation you just enhance the consequences.” Unless, of course, the gun is in the hands of the victim, but apparently that doesn’t enter Whitlock’s sexist thinking.
Rather than place the blame for the tragedy where it belongs, on the perpetrator of the crime, both Whitlock and Costas blamed the gun and those who defend gun rights as the culprits.
Costas’ remarks burned up the Internet in the days following, while the original Whitlock column and the subsequent interview on Martin’s podcast have doubtlessly broken all page hit records for either of those outlets, giving all involved, except Costas, an unexpected boost in Internet fame. The heavy traffic is primarily due to outraged supporters of liberty, and NBC is apparently recognizing it as a negative. Costas issued an official, squirming backpedal on Tuesday and appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program Wednesday. But we’ve yet to see any official regret from Fox Sports regarding its writer’s anti-rights statements on its website, or his racist blather on Martin’s podcast.
Meanwhile, Whitlock will be using his newfound fame and high Web-traffic numbers to promote himself and enhance his prestige. Hopefully, that effort will eventually fail. There must be a price when public figures cross the line. Racism, bigotry and ignorance must not be rewarded, and the organizations that provide platforms for such rantings have to accept their share of the responsibility as well. Had Whitlock been talking about virtually any other topic or any other group, he would have been summarily fired and blackballed in the industry. He should not be allowed to get away with these outrageous insults unscathed – and should certainly not be allowed to prosper from them.
Whitlock’s comments come on the heels of Fox Sports’ decision to forbid all firearms-related advertising and sponsorships of UFC fighters and events. That suggests a trend of indifference to the millions of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters who have contributed to the network’s success over the years. Fox Sports and their advertisers need to hear and feel our fury. Samsung is the display advertiser surrounding Whitlock’s offensive column. The contact form for Fox Sports is located here. Tell them that their First Amendment rights are protected by our Second Amendment rights, and that their support of anti-rights, racist bigotry will not be tolerated.