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After ESPN Pulls Asian with Confederate General’s Name, Showtime Airs Black Ref Sharing Klansman’s Moniker

Not even a trigger warning?

After ESPN exiled broadcaster Robert Lee from Virginia-William & Mary to Pitt-Youngstown State, Showtime really needed to wake up their wokeness by appointing someone named Harvey Milk, Betty Friedan, or Marcus Garvey to commentate on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. Getting an Andrea Dworkin doppelganger as a ring girl would have sufficiently signaled a commitment to social justice. Perhaps replacing Demi Lovato with Colin Kaepernick as the “Star Spangled Banner” singer, too, would have signaled the virtuous of the event’s inherent virtue.

Instead, the network left viewers (at least the ones not blinded by privilege, heteronormativity, and racism) more disappointed, deflated, and dejected than they have been since the Duke lacrosse accuser recanted. They broadcast a boxing match refereed by Robert Byrd.

If you remember, Robert Byrd won election to the rank of Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan before winning election to the United States Senate from West Virginia. Okay, okay, so I’m informed that the Klansman-turned-Senator Robert Byrd passed away seven years ago. Also, apparently, he was a white man and the gentleman refereeing Saturday’s match was black. But they shared a name, and, as the precedent recently established by the Worldwide Leader in Sports dictates, people holding the same name as a villain must be held responsible for the sins of their namesakes.

You say that’s not justice? Well, it’s social justice.

Sure, the black Robert Byrd expeditiously broke up hugfests. He sternly warned Mayweather about the post-bell push and McGregor about rabbit punching without altering the outcome by heavy-handedly deducting points. And he stopped the bout before it became dangerous for McGregor’s health. But that right mix of involvement and disengagement that the third man brought to the ring does not make up for the most important attribute possessed by all good broadcasters, referees, judges, ring-card girls, promoters, cutmen, and chief seconds: a sensitive name.

Maybe allowing Robert Byrd to ref does not quite equate to burning a cross in everybody’s living room. But once Las Vegas permits a Klansman’s namesake to officiate a boxing match the next thing you know the city’s comedy clubs allow a guy named George Wallace to tell jokes. Why can’t boxing bigwigs agree to hire only referees bearing meaningless names like “Richard Steele”?

Consider Saturday night’s inclusion of Robert Byrd in the largest pay-per-view event in history as a wake-up call to the woke. Some cable networks apparently require more aggressive sensitivity training to advance to the stage of enlightenment achieved by a certain four-letter network based in an eleven-letter state. Rather than punish the black Robert Byrd the way ESPN exacted retribution on the Asian Robert Lee, Showtime, the WBC, T-Mobile Arena, and so many others rewarded a man holding a name in common with a Klansman by letting him do his job. Mercy to the guilty of name crimes is cruelty to the innocent.

Some may wonder why we take vengeance on one man for the coincidence that we call him what our forebears called a villain. If we show everyone our willingness to railroad third parties innocent of inflicting historical injustices, but guilty of reminding us of those who did, then the example of the lengths to which we go immediately frightens almost everyone into refraining from speaking out against progressive ideas—and progressive tics, progressive peer pressure, and progressive attitudinal conditioning. With the Robert Byrds and Robert Lees of the world jobless, we can march into a brave, new world confident that we have reduced our few remaining critics to satire of the most oblique and indirect sort.

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