Welcome to Deadspin’s All-American tradition, IDIOT OF THE MONTH! As usual we have curated for you this guide to the various dumb things that happened the month before, a process which for us pulls double duty as both editorial commentary and therapy session. So put down your weiners for a moment and join us for this special Fourth of July edition!
5. Tampa Bay Rays
It was just a patch and a change in hat color for one night. A modicum of support for the pride movement. Even this gesture of decency was a bridge too far for Jason Adam, Brooks Raley, Jalen Beeks, Jeffery Springs, and Ryan Thompson. They decided against wearing the rainbow patch on their Tampa Bay Rays jerseys, and hats with the TB logo in rainbow colors. Adam was the spokesperson for the group and told the media that it was a decision based on Christian faith. He said that he wants all people to feel welcome in the Rays’ stadium, but didn’t want to put something on his body that encourages the “lifestyle.”
America is still allegedly a free country so Adam and his cohorts can do whatever they want, but it also gives those who think that decision was moronic the right to express that viewpoint. Adam compared it to how he is also against heterosexual sex outside of marriage, but that explanation would do little to comfort a gay 12-year-old at orange juice park on Pride Night, who noticed a handful of pitchers electing not to wear the patch.
The patch and the hat were just the team uniform for the night. That’s all. The Rays were trying to show that they are welcoming to LGBTQ+ people with one night on the team calendar. By refusing to wear the uniform, Adam, Raley, Beeks, Springs, and Thompson didn’t spread the gospel, they openly rejected the point of the night. Wearing the rainbow wasn’t encouraging a “lifestyle,” it was encouraging people. Something that group of players, whether they realize it or not, decided wasn’t important to them.
4. Jim Jordan
If you didn’t watch Ohio representative Jim Jordan’s nauseating interactions with Roger Goodell this month during the Dan Snyder hearings, consider yourself lucky. We here at Deadspin were, unfortunately, doomed to sit through it. If you had any hope left, struggling vainly against oblivion, for this country’s government, listening to the House Oversight Committee’s ranking member ought to finish the job there.
During a hearing about the NFL’s investigation into the workplace culture created by Snyder at the Washington Commanders — now paired with several sexual misconduct allegations — Jordan decided that the taxpayers’ time and money would be best spent asking Goodell why Barstool founder Dave Portnoy was banned from NFL games, whether Goodell agreed with the Commanders’ head coach fining another Idiot of the Month, Jack Del Rio, for dismissing the January 6 insurrection as a “dust-up,” willfully misunderstanding the First Amendment, calling the Commanders by their former name (a slur), making a fool of himself, and embarrassing the state of Ohio in the process.
If someone actually makes you root for Roger Goodell, you know it’s bad.
3. Jack Del Rio
You wouldn’t have known Jack Del Rio was the Washington Commanders’ defensive coordinator until cameras panned to him during the team’s lone nationally televised game on a random Thursday. Best known for flopping around Jacksonville’s sidelines, gasping for air and a contract extension over the span of 12 seasons, the now-perpetual assistant NFL coach makes this month’s IDIOT OF THE MONTH list for calling the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection a “dustup.”
The tweet that incited the idiocy came in the mentions of a thread about the investigation into Jan. 6. It was soon deleted, but not before it was screengrabbed by bemused users. The response read, “Would love to understand ‘the whole story ‘ about why the summer of riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property is never discussed but this is ???”
That scalding take is straight from QAnon lunatic canon, and Del Rio made quite the effort to double down on it, evoking the first amendment and muttering on about America during a subsequent news conference.
“I asked a simple question,” he said. “Why are we not looking into those things? People’s livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem. And then we have a dustup at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we’re gonna make that a major deal. We’ve got two standards.
“I was just expressing myself, I think we all, as Americans, have the right to express ourselves.”
In addition to being paraded around the internet like a piñata, del Rio was fined $100,000 for his comments. There aren’t a lot of ways to stand out in Washington as an assistant coach, but he found one. Downplaying an attempt to overthrow the peaceful transition of power while working in the city where the coup took place – and took lives — probably wasn’t his first choice. Or second. Or third. It was a choice he made (repeatedly) though, and what a dumbass decision that was.
2. Vince McMahon
Trying to figure out what’s most disgusting about Vince McMahon’s latest controversy is a lot like crawling through that same tunnel Andy Dufresne did. There’s more than enough to choose from. Giving raises to those he was sleeping with, to the insinuation that he preyed upon his employees, to the outright accusations of rape and destroying the careers of those he had already violated. And there’s more when you throw in whatever was going on with John Laurinaitis.
There is no wrong answer here, and it was all accented by Vince insisting on appearing on both SmackDown and Raw after the news became public.
The appearances on TV, and the ensuing ovations that they are specifically designed to collect, are particularly galling, for what they say. It’s not that Vince is telling everyone he denies any of this. It’s not that he’s saying he’s done enough by “stepping down” as CEO, whatever that means. Or that what he thinks he’s done is wrong in any way. Basically, he’s saying that he did all of this, and he knows it’s wrong, and it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care. Contrition would be admitting wrong. Denial would be saying he was always in the right.
Vince isn’t doing any of that. He’s coming out on TV to show that his stepping down from the CEO position doesn’t matter, because he’s on TV and that’s what matters to more people. And if he has the power to put himself on TV, then nothing else that went on matters either. It’s not an “ends justify the means” play. There are no means. There’s only ends, so nothing needs to be justified.
It’s the sad story of our society as a whole, where it’s not the doing wrong that matters anymore. It’s that there is no wrong. Whoever you roll over, whatever rules you break, whoever gets hurt, they’re trivial, if that. As long as you get what you want.
Vince isn’t rallying his troops or trying to set out his position in the gloss of adulation he will always get from his cult-like fans. He’s just demonstrating he can’t be touched, not because he didn’t do anything wrong, but because the idea of right and wrong just don’t apply to him. And he’s rubbing all of our noses in it.
1. Supreme Court
If you’ve only recently starting paying attention to the workings of the United States Supreme Court, you could be forgiven for thinking the game is played thusly: Whoever is in office when spots become vacant nominates as many ideologues as they can, who then change and shape American law to reflect their own personal beliefs about up and down, left and right, right and wrong.
It’s not so, however. Supreme Court justices are supposed to hold to the principle of stare decisis, which means ruling on the law in accordance with precedent, or how previous iterations of the Court have held. That’s not to say that the Court can’t create new laws, new rights. That’s what the Court did in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), finding that while the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly set forth a right to privacy the way it does freedom of speech and freedom to assemble, there is an implicit right to privacy inherent (and predating) the Constitution. That right has been the basis for Court rulings on the right to use birth control, the right to abortion, and the right to marry whomever one chooses. And while the Court has, since the dawn of our nation, established new fundamental rights, it has never, until now, taken one away.
Fast forward to 2022. The current SCOTUS is made up of a guy who was credibly accused of attempted sexual assault, a guy who was credibly accused of harassing his coworkers, and a woman who is part of a Catholic sect that refers to women as “handmaidens.” That’s a little too on the nose, even for Hollywood, who would no doubt reject such a pitch for being too far-fetched.
And so, thanks to a bloc of Trump-appointed justices, what rights you have now depend on what state you live in. Blue state? You’re likely okay, for now. Red state? God help you. Because SCOTUS has turned over women’s bodies to a bunch of white men in red states, who have next to no knowledge of a woman’s reproductive system and have exalted the “rights” of an unborn fetus above those of living-breathing women. The fetus wins if the life if the mother is at risk, the fetus wins in cases of rape, incest, and any other horrible scenario you can imagine, even if you’re a 10-year old rape victim. Once that fetus is born though? If it’s a biological female, it immediately loses any and all rights over its bodily autonomy. Oh, the irony.
So let’s be clear about what’s going to happen. A lot of women are going to get very sick and many will die. Because outlawing abortion will not stop abortion. It will only push it further underground. It was clear from everything from the Anita Hill testimony to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to the reply guys on Twitter who love to make misogynistic comments, that this country does not value women, In fact, women are treated as second-class citizens in the good ole’ U.S. of A. Now it’s just official.
Happy Fucking Fourth.