Do not count me among the number of those who want all sports stars and celebrities to clam up about politics or their cultural convictions. I am of the belief that their rank and status among society's elites does not disqualify them from the opportunity to hold and share opinions. The right to expression is sacrosanct, and we should believe in it whether or not we agree with the content.
That's why I have a great deal of respect for athletes like Michael Jordan who realize that since "Republicans buy sneakers also," it's best not to offend such a massive section of his fan base. But I also don't begrudge others like LeBron James, or most recently Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, when they want to voice theirs. Whereas James has made a habit of social and political opining, Burrow made his grand entrance into the fray last week when he published the following to his Instagram account:
Again, Joe has every right to post such remarks to his social media pages, but if he does, there is nothing inappropriate when wiser, more informed minds push back or expose his brazenly misleading appeal to emotion.
Though Burrow is clearly playing to an audience that mistakenly believes the Supreme Court's recent decision in Dobbs makes all abortion illegal in the United States, it is remarkably telling to see him unwilling to engage the heart of the issue.
First, you never make a law based on exceptional cases. For instance, suppose your brother was shot and you were rushing him to the hospital. No one in their right mind would expect you to make full and complete stops at every stop sign. If a police officer witnessed it and attempted to pull you over, once he became aware of the situation, he would pull in front of you to escort you to the hospital. But that exceptional case does not mean you don't enforce stop sign laws for the 99.999% of other situations.
The individual cases that Burrow references in his emotional post account for less than 5% of all abortions committed in the United States. Someone should ask the quarterback if he agrees that elective abortion for convenience, which constitutes well over 90% of the country's yearly total, should be legal. If so, why hide behind such emotional extremism? Have the courage to defend elective abortion for what it is if you believe in it, Joe.
On the off chance that Burrow is being honest when he starts by affirming he is not in favor of "murdering babies" for convenience, and his defense of abortion is truly limited to these handful of exceptional cases, he should recognize that most every pro-life state that is moving to ban elective abortion right now, contains exceptions for each of them.
What's more, if a state were to ban them, Joe should realize that the Supreme Court decision now grants he and like-minded people the ability to change and write abortion law that a majority of reasonable, ethical people agree on.
Now, if I were a betting man, I would wager that Burrow will never engage any of these points, or commit himself to a legitimate evaluation of the issue that extends into deeper moral waters than the shallow puddles of emotion he is currently splashing in. Call me cynical but I would suspect his social media activism here is the result of either a personal lifestyle that benefits from abortion as a means of escaping responsibility, or an attempt to be that in-touch celebrity who has his finger firmly on the pulse of what the majority of people want to hear.
I could be wrong of course, but I'd say the odds of Burrow being able to intellectually parse this core human rights issue are even less than the odds that he gets the team from Cincinnati back to the Super Bowl.