Wise words from John Gruber on soon-to-be-NFL-player Michael Sam coming out as gay shortly before the NFL draft.1
We look back on ugliness of our country’s past bigotry with regret, shame, and almost disbelief at how cruel our ancestors were. We don’t need to look very far back — many of us can even look back to our own childhoods.
Bigotry never goes away completely, but most forms eventually cross a line after which most people consider them offensive and shameful. They become far less common, legally prohibited in many contexts (such as employment and housing discrimination), and marginalized to only the most ignorant, nasty fringes of society. As society progresses, classes of bigotry cross this threshold, but they rarely go the other way — history proves the bigots wrong and slowly erases them.
Racism and sexism2 are over that line, but we’re currently still in a painful transition trying to push two major issues over: sexual-orientation discrimination and, in the U.S., access to health care.3 What side of history do you want to be on when your grandchildren ask what you did, thought, and voted for during this era?
I don’t think Sam will have any trouble getting drafted. This is a bold challenge to the teams4 to start a new (though long overdue) era and admit to the world, probably implicitly, that sexual orientation is completely irrelevant in any professional context. Anti-gay bigots are cowards — none of them have the guts to reveal and own their bigotry publicly. Sam will win.
Warning: I don’t know anything about sports. This is the first time “NFL” has ever appeared on this site. I think I’ve gotten the facts right on this — please let me know if the NFL is really a basketball league, Sam is really a baseball player, “the draft” refers to air currents, or bigotry is really beneficial to society. ↩︎
Maybe. Actually, sadly, probably not. ↩︎
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. But I think these are the most hotly contested forms of discrimination that affect the most people today. ↩︎