Sunday, May 9, 2010


"Take me out to a protest. Take me out to a crowd. Buy me some paper and markers

black. I don't care if I have to come back. Cuz it's hoot, hoot, hoot at the owners. If they

don't get it it's a shame. For it's 1, 2, 3 rights are gone in this old ball game."

Protesters have begun stationing themselves outside baseball stadiums when the Arizona

Diamondbacks come to town. They are angry at the recent law passed by Republicans in

Arizona which give police the power to stop anyone in the state and make them show papers

proving they are in the country legally. This brand new law is causing great weeping and

gnashing of teeth on sports talk radio and the offices of Major League Baseball because a

large proportion of professional baseball players are Latino. Could the protests cause some

of them not to play against Arizona? Could they refuse to go to Arizona to play? Could this

spread to the Phoenix Suns during the NBA playoffs? What about the NHL Phoenix Coyotes

or the NFL Arizona Cardinals? Will they have to cancel next year's All-Star game in Arizona?

Sports talk radio and sports coverage generally is some of the most jingoistic media in

the country. The protesters have them stirred up; so they've come to see defending or

preserving some kind of precious torch of American tradition which never should have been

disturbed. One Houston sports talk host predicted protests outside Minute Maid Park on

Cinco de Mayo would actually cause fans to support the Arizona law rather than oppose it.

How dare these protesters wreck a day at the park? How dare they dirty American sports

with politics? People go to baseball games to escape, don't they? They don't want to be

reminded about "someone else" losing their Constitutional rights, do they? This same

sports talk host then went on to rail about how families are spending money they can't afford

on tickets, parking, food, and souvenirs (good old capitalism); and how no one has the right

to detract from this positive, wholesome American experience. If protesters insist on making

a nuisance of themselves, he proclaims, baseball fans will turn on them and take even more

of their rights away. He must have a point, since the fever is spreading as Texas Republicans

talk of passing a similar law in their own state.

It's simple. Want to pass a law which legitimizes prejudice and bigotry? Sure, but only

if it doesn't effect me. Want to pass a law to wipe out the Fourth Amendment? Sure, but only

if it's absolutely necessary. Want to give the police the power to stop anyone anytime they

wish? Sure, why not, I've got nothing to hide. Want to pass a law which could cause people

to boycott the state, cancel tours, stop going to the Grand Canyon, and not attend football,

basketball, or baseball games? Hey, what's money got to do with civil rights? If you want

to hit bigots where they live, threaten their pocketbooks!

We've heard these arguments before. A prominent talk show host once excoriated gay

activists for shutting down the Golden Gate Bridge to protest the lack of funding for AIDS

research. He proclaimed the action would backfire because all the people who were

inconvenienced or delayed would get so angry they would intentionally withhold money for

AIDS research. Want to engage your right to civil disobedience? Fine. However, you will

alienate all the people you are trying to influence. (I always wondered if Martin Luther King

worried about such things when he marched through Selma and Montgomery.) For the

record, the protesters outside the baseball parks aren't even engaging in civil disobedience;

they are peacefully protesting. Yet, some say, baseball fans will be so outraged that they

will rush to fine more racially bigoted laws to support and more civil liberties to give away.

As Yakov Smirnoff said, "..what a country!"

If you don't have to go to Arizona, don't go. If you can vacation somewhere else, why not?

If you can change your plans and not go to spring training in Arizona this year, it could do

some good. If the Diamondbacks come to town, you might think about not going or going

to protest. If you have a convention or trade show meeting scheduled in Arizona, see if it can

be moved somewhere else. Nothing will cause a change in the law faster than some economic

pain. Civil libertarian concerns about the expanding police power of government may not

move anyone, but excess Grand Canyon chotchkies sitting on the shelf can move mountains.

What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to

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