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Put It Back In The Deck; Faith-Based Special Pleading (Rant)


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Oscar Wilde once said: “if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they will kill you.”


Wilde was no dummy.  I think that it takes a certain courage to take on issues that are polemic in culture.  It also takes some brains to make a point through a piece of art or performance.  And this is why, at least in my humble opinion, South Park is still in the business of providing social commentary all the while making society’s sides ache. 


I had some friends over last night and we watched the Crack Baby Athletic Association episode.  If you’re not a fan, the entire episode satirized the idea that college athletics is an entertainment industry worth billions of dollars founded on not compensating the people who make the industry possible; the players.  In one of the closing scenes, Kyle says something to the effect of: “whenever you have a system that makes tons of money off of people who get none of it – it’s a bad situation.”


After the episode, a buddy turned to me and asked: “what do you think?”  It was probably at this moment that my wife began to cringe.  This buddy and I have known each other since grade school and she knows the only thing we can agree on is that we both like to win an argument.


My point to my friend was that if you have an industry that is reaping billions of dollars in profits every year and paying the people that do most of the work and take all of the risk; it is indeed a broken system.  Though Parker and Stone did metaphorically compare college athletics to a system of slavery, I am more inclined to compare it to prostitution. 


It soon became a bit of an intellectual pissing contest.


Either way, the other guy in the room was convinced to some degree of my argument and said that: if we can all agree that this is a form of exploitation, then it has to change somehow.  This did not land well to buddy #1 and his following defense was this: “we can’t give 18 and 19 year old guys loads of cash because they can’t make wise decisions…sooner or later those girls, the girls that know what they are doing, are going to come on to them and take advantage of them.”


There are a few problems that hit me right away:


1.  Most 18-19 year old men who happen to be star athletes don’t need help in learning how to “play the game” of sexual interaction.  Unless he is Tim Tebow (a very special boy indeed) then we probably don’t need to protect the chastity of nationally known quarterbacks.


2.  If bothered by the immorality, why not cut to the root of the issue and interact with “those girls” since they are the ones with corrupt motives.  Seems a bit of an over complication to have athletic policy revolve around gold diggers which cannot even be sure exist.


3.  What about kids who are know to be independently wealthy?  Where is my buddy’s heart for the prep-school graduate in line for millions in a trust fund?  If we are going to be the guardians of the football stars because people would exploit their wealth, what about other college students whose wealth might be targeted?


Just to restate, he believes it is okay for a skillfully designed recruiting apparatus to swoop in and take advantage of talented young athletes by exploiting their performance and likeness AND we should not pay them because women might take advantage of them because they have money. 


I responded that that had absolutely nothing to do with nothing and I dismiss it – and it was at this point I could feel my face getting hot and my voice getting louder.


“Well, those are my morals; that’s what I believe.”


It’s one thing to lose an argument, it’s another thing to pull out a trump card from the ground and demand you’re the winner through some kind of special pleading.  And this is what makes me irate – when a believer loses and argument, they fall back on what they know they can’t lose one; untestable presumptions.  The expectation from here is that I have to concede the argument because the basic matter has been switched from logical demonstrable ideas to a person’s convictions based in religious belief.  And because the conviction has religious ties, his argument takes on the veneer of self-affirming credibility; a sort of transference of infallibility.





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I know what you are referring to and have observed this before. But this is really an admission of impotence on the part of the Christian. If he says "this is what I believe," then I can say "well I believe in Hinduism, and thus will not convert to your religion" (these arguments are usually in the context of proselytism). The Christian has thus lost his power to try and convert me by employing such logic.


In my experience, the Christian will then tell me that unless Jesus comes into my heart, I will never believe. To which I'd respond that Jesus' failure to do so leaves me no reason at all to bow to him.

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For what it's worth, HitchWithMe, if I had been in the room, I would have sided with you. Your friend's special pleading would have lost him the round on my high school debate team, just sayin'. I'm not at a point where I'm willing or able to debate Christians, but one day I will remember that you have pointed out this last-ditch tactic, and I will know it when I see it. Thanks for your most enjoyable read.

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HitchWithMe, you've got so much more patience and decency than I do. That thing about the gold diggers would have had me positively irate. I'd propose the following comeback: "Oh, gold digging women are easy to deal with: require all professional and prospective male athletes to be gay." ('cause he seems to be assuming that there are no female professional athletes (Venus and Serena Williams? Heard of them?), or male gold diggers ...that misogynist asshat...) *Stand back and watch as hilarity ensues*

Incidentally, I think RenaissanceWoman's right, you did win. I'd agree with you: my problem with college athletics is that the athletes are so young, and the whole thing is a tremendously high-stakes gamble. If you put all your eggs in the pro sports basket, and then an injury sidelines you, it's hard to be prepared to switch to organic chemistry or something as an alternate career. It's very tough to be barely 18, and think realistically about it.

Bhim is also right-on about how to deal with it - his approach is exactly mine: oh, "you just believe it" - well, there's literally billions of people who believe differently, so, I can't take that as some kind of proof. And yes, at that point, you've won so hard, this is the argument equivalent of them curling up in a ball and hoping you go away.

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I would have concisely pointed out that his opinion did not qualify as 'morals' anyway. He simply wasn't making a moral argument to begin with.


"We shouldn't be giving young men money because bad girls might like it." Is about as stupid as stupid gets, and contains not even the slightest offense of any moral tenant. It's just stupid.


Exactly what moral code is violated by paying an athlete for his hard work? How is paying them for that any different than paying them for any other job? [something they are often restricted from getting by the very same rules.]


"We shouldn't give money to guys in college because they might get laid with girls who don't want to marry them," is an argument from the most supreme ignorance. I wouldn't have stood for that shit for a moment after I finished mockingly laughing at the idiot who was dumb enough to say it.


The card was misplayed to begin with. What the hell does any of that have to do with his personal morals? I'd have called him out right then and there on even trying to play that card on me.


Talk to me about the morals of the Colleges who don't pay the athletes for their hard work, efforts, and compensate them for all the money they bring to the institution and we might have something to say about 'morals'. He was just bringing things to their most irrelevant conclusion and saying it was a matter of his own morals for no reason beyond he had no other argument.


BTW DrNo, I'm quite fond of saying that. It gets the greatest looks from people who say 'I'm entitled to my opinion' to me. Further explaining that their opinion is just as equally valid and worthy of consideration as anyone else's is also a false belief on their part just adds icing on the cake of the subsequent brain malfunction that follows.


I'm also fond of saying "No, I don't have to respect your opinion, I have to do nothing more than tolerate it, and I have every right and an intelectual obligation to say that your opinion is wrong and fucking stupid."

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The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

Fantastic article - thanks

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