For as much understandable attention as the Simpsons sitcom gets for some of its uncanny prophecies of the future, I don't know that any old television program more accurately envisioned the current state of American culture than the "You must wear the ribbon" segment of Seinfeld.
The bumbling character on the show, Kramer, willfully signs up to participate in an AIDS walk for charity. When he checks in, he declines the red ribbon that was offered to him, and hilarity ensues. It becomes abundantly clear that the organizers (and participants) of the event were adamant that a person wasn't a true ally if they didn't wear the ribbon.
Look at the state of modern affairs in American culture, the most recent of which occurred in the National Hockey League. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov incurred the wrath of the LGBT political movement when he opted out of pregame warmups last week after learning that his team was wearing "pride-themed" jerseys and using hockey sticks wrapped in rainbow "pride" tape.
He didn't make a scene. The scene was made for him.
He didn't insult anyone. He was insulted.
He didn't disrespect individuals. He was disrespected.
But like I mentioned earlier this week discussing the hatred directed at Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy, it's not respect and compassion this political movement demands. It's obedience.
The criticism and harassment that Provorov received for his decision would have shocked even Kramer. It was eerily similar to the kind of persecution leveled against pitchers from Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays. They too refused to endorse the "pride" message even as their teams wore patches on their uniforms to celebrate Gay Pride month last June.
To give you a taste of the extremist rhetoric that stalked Provorov, this gem emerged from north of the border, in hockey-rich Canada:
I think my favorite part came midway through that clip when the very exercised gentleman in the button-up began railing on about "inclusivity." Call me crazy, but I doubt Provorov was feeling too included by his rhetoric. Ditto that for the other Christian, Jew, and Muslim players who didn't realize that part of their job description in the National Hockey League would be to function as a walking billboard promoting causes that offend the teachings of their faith.
One commenter to the video remarked how funny it would be if Provorov's jersey became the top jersey sold in the country. I don't have any totals, but there is this:
In the days since the Flyers' "Pride night," Provorov's jersey has sold out on Fanatics andNHL Shop, the Washington Examiner reported.
And while that admittedly makes me smile a bit, I'm still left lamenting how ignorant all this is politically and culturally.
What is gained by forcing someone to validate your preferences, lifestyle, and behavior against their will? Is it just the power? Does it not seem to indicate a profound insecurity in "who you are" that a person or movement would require such validation?
Commenting on the whole embarrassing mess, Fox News' Guy Benson noted,
There's been a journey from pursuing tolerance, which is healthy, to acceptance, to enforced celebration, to punishment and ostracizing of dissenters. And I think at a certain point, it becomes unhealthy and unwelcome.
In case there's any confusion, we have arrived at such a point.