Thursday, August 11, 2016

Your stupid Olympic "controversy" for today

I know how you're going to take this. Don't think you're fooling me any.

The Blob, after all, is the product of a 61-year-old man who's done his share of standing on the front porch shaking his bony fist at all those damn kids on his lawn. So anything negative I have to say about social media is invariably going to look like I'm out there on the porch again, unfurling another old-guy rant.

Except I'm not. Really.

See, I'm a social media guy myself, and -- unlike, say, the once-great Mitch Albom, who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time these days railing about the bleeping internet -- I recognize its value. And so when I say social media has a positive gift for making mountains out of molehills, I come at it from a pretty rational place.

Social media is great. It's also, on occasion, stupid.

Which brings us ("Finally!" you're saying) to American gymnast Gabby Douglas, who failed to place her hand over her heart during the National Anthem the other night, and incurred the mighty wrath of Nitwit Nation because of it. You'd think she'd torn down the flag, doused it with lighter fluid and grilled burgers over it, for all the online outrage. And so Douglas was compelled to go on Twitter and explain herself.

Which was absurd.

Absurd, because, the last I looked, this was an allegedly free country. Which means when they play the national anthem, as long as you stand respectfully for it (which Douglas did), it's nobody's damn business where you keep your hands. Getting outraged about it is ... well, I can think of a million things deserving of our outrage these days. This isn't one of them.

Look. I was a sportswriter for 38 years, which means I stood for the National Anthem countless times. (I even sang it once at a TinCaps game, and managed not to send the audience screaming in horror into the streets).  In all those times, I stood pretty much the same way: With my feet apart and my hands clasped behind my back, standing at semi-attention.

This did not mean I loved my country any less than all of those who placed their hands over their hearts. It just means I got into the habit of standing a certain way during the anthem and I continued doing so. There really wasn't any thought process involved in it at all.

Nor, apparently, was there for those who trashed Gabby Douglas.

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