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On another site where my blog gets posted, not this one, I received an ad hominem attack in response to my blog about the NFL. Curiously enough, the attack had more to do with my having once made my living as an actor than anything else, the implied reasoning being that because of my charmed life (and perhaps, indeed, compared to many, my life has been charmed in some very important ways) I couldn’t possibly know or understand what it is like for black people in black communities to be targeted by law enforcement.

I made it abundantly clear in my post that I have no interest in anecdotal evidence, neither mine nor anyone else’s. Anecdotal evidence can always be found to support any side of any argument, and your individual experience is no more valid as universal evidence than my individual experience. The conclusions I have reached are based on statistical evidence from our nation’s most highly regarded impartial source. But let me ignore the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, and I will instead quote findings of The Washington Post, the newspaper that runs neck and neck with The New York Times for title of most liberal paper in America.

According to the Post, out of 963 people shot by police in 2016, 233 were black and, again according to the Post, the vast majority of those were armed. Sixteen black males who were shot were classified as unarmed. In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be shot by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be shot by a police officer. In the past ten years, black males have constituted 42% of all cop-killers, even though they represent only 6% of the population.

If you don’t trust the Washington Post, a number of recent academic studies have produced similar results. I am referring to Harvard, to Washington State University, to an independent economist, and to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), which describes itself as “…an independent, nonprofit organization merging scientific knowledge and proven practice to create solutions that improve the health, safety and well-being of individuals, communities, and nations around the world.”

The PIRE found that a civilian’s chance of being shot by the police following an arrest or traffic stop is unconnected to race; the chances are equal for both black and white.

The economist, Ted Miller, also found the chances of lethal force being used are equal for black and white.

The Washington State University study found that whites were three times more likely to be shot than blacks.

Harvard economist Roland Fryer found that police officers were 24% less likely to shoot a black suspect than a white one, 47% less likely to fire their sidearm without first being attacked if the suspect was black rather than white, and that black and white victims of police shootings were equally likely to have been armed.

The Center for Policing Equity, a 501(c)3 think tank, found that with violent felony arrests, white suspects were more than twice as likely to be victims of lethal force by law enforcement as black suspects.

Those are some studies that present one point of view, but there are also at least as many studies that seem to come to the exact opposite conclusion. However, I will not cite most of them, because:

—there was clear and explicit bias in some; e.g., citing a Black Lives Matter study would be like citing Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety on Second Amendment issues;

—some studies were clearly skewed by deliberately ignoring readily available evidence to bolster a specific point of view, or by opening or closing valid parameters, used in other studies, to alter conclusions, e.g., classifying anyone under the age of 21 as a child, or ignoring racial crime disparities;

—or because the focus of the study was so narrow (a single small-to-medium sized town) that it is not applicable to establishing a nation-wide trend.

But I will mention three in particular.

A UC Davis study found “significant bias” in the killing of unarmed black men versus unarmed white men, particularly in large metropolitan areas with low median incomes, high black population, and high financial inequality.

The same Roland Fryer cited above, found that although police were less likely to shoot a black suspect, they were more likely to use non-lethal force.

And the New York Times carried a story about a study by the same Center for Policing Equity cited above, that reached the exact opposite conclusion cited above, this time stating, “African-Americans are far more likely than whites and other groups to be the victims of use of force by the police, even when racial disparities in crime are taken into account.” (I am quoting the NY Times there, not the study.)

Perhaps the reference was to non-lethal force, but I have neither the expertise nor the time to do the research to explain why the same organization could find completely opposing conclusions, so you pay your money and take your pick. But again, I emphasize that none of these contradictory studies reflect any nationwide trend, or plot, or coordinated form of discrimination or oppression, and disrespecting the symbols of an entire nation seems a poor and offensive way to register displeasure over the actions of individual towns or police departments.

I would also point out, that according to the FBI, while blacks commit most of the violent crimes, their victims are predominately other blacks, which does not speak well of local law enforcement in “large metropolitan areas with low median incomes, high black population, and high financial inequality.” Chicago leaps to mind. But it does not reflect badly on the nation as a whole.

But all of that is beside the point that I was trying to make. My primary argument, as I stated in my original post, is not the facts of law enforcement, nor the perceptions of football players black or white, that I object to. Rather, I object to a double standard by the NFL, a sort of cherry-picking, if you will, of the right to freedom of expression. Contrary to a popular email making the rounds of the internet, there is no rule on page 62 or 63 or any other page of the NFL rule book dictating etiquette for players during the national anthem. There is, however, a separate “game operations manual” that does cover etiquette during the playing of the national anthem, but it is phrased in terms of “may” and “should,” not “will” or “must,” so there is no basis for anyone, including President Trump, to call for the firing of players.

There is, however, a basis for disagreeing with the injection of divisive politics into any game: football and other sports are meant to be unifying events, with all the players striving for a common goal of victory for their team, and all the fans routing for victory for their favorite, and that can rightly be considered a paradigm for the unifying common goal of love of country. Beyond that, for the NFL to align itself with a divisive action by certain players, while forbidding other actions (honoring murdered police officers, honoring the victims of 9/11) by other players, is not only wrong in its support of division, but wrong in its inequality. It is very akin to the moronic anti-thought of Antifa and certain extreme college progressives who claim the right to freedom of speech should be open only to them. It would certainly seem the players kneeling on the field in protest of inequality should be able to recognize the inequality of their organization’s decision on this matter.

Here, for those of you who believe in America more than football, is a list of the NFL’s major sponsors. Profits drive the NFL, and lowered revenue will accomplish more than angry words.

Anheuser-Busch

Includes anything named Budweiser or Bud. Also Michelob, Rolling Rock, Busch, Shock Top, Natural, Johnny Appleseed, Landshark Lager, as well as the micro-breweries Goose Island, 10 Barrel, Blue-Point, Elysian Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing, Four Peaks Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing, Karback Brewing, and Wicked Weed Brewing. It also includes the malt liquors King Cobra, Hurricane, and Spykes.

Barclaycard USA

A credit card company that is part of Visa, and partners with Mastercard and American Express in ways I’m not smart enough to understand.

Bose

Bose is a privately-owned company, so short of boycotting its products (easy for me to do), it might be hard to bring financial pressure to bear on them.

Bridgestone

Actually a Japanese company, Bridgestone also owns Firestone, Bandag (a re-treading company), and manufactures bicycles and golf equipment.

Campbell’s Soup Company

Campbell also owns Pepperidge Farm, Wolfgang Puck Soups, Garden Fresh, Prego, Pace Foods, Arnott’s Biscuits, V-8, Swanson, Bolthouse Farms, Franco-American, Plum Baby, Raguletto, and many other brands overseas.

Castrol

Castrol includes Penzoil.

Courtyard Marriott

A division of Marriott International. There are other hotels.

Dairy Management, Inc.

Proving that even farmers, who are basically the salt of the earth, can get hooked up with the wrong people.

Dannon

The yogurt company makes a variety of yogurts whose names either begin with “Dannon” or have some variation of “Dan.”

Extreme Networks

It’s a networking company based out of San Jose, CA, that builds, designs, and installs ethernet network computer products. I have now exhausted my intelligence about the company and the ethernet.

FedEx

Send your package via UPS

Frito-Lay

The snack food company is owned by Pepsi, and they manufacture a slew of snack foods such as Lay’s, Frito’s, Dorito’s, Ruffles, Cheetos, Sun Chips, Tostitos, Rold Gold, and Funyuns.

Gatorade

This is also owned by Pepsi (what food product isn’t?) and sells a range of drinks and energy bars that all have some variation of “Gator” in their names.

Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai also owns Kia and Genesis Motors.

Mars Snackfood

Oh, boy. They own the Wrigley Company (chewing gum) as well as a huge selection of candy products, including, but not limited to, 3 Musketeers, Bounty, Lifesavers, M&M, Skittles, Snickers, Twix, Uncle Ben’s Rice, Milky Way, pet products such as Eukanuba, Iams, Nutro Products, Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba, and a lot more stuff I’ve never even heard of.

Microsoft

Yeah, good luck avoiding that one. I suppose, if you’re more computer-savvy than I, you could switch to Apple.

Nationwide

The insurance giant, another vast conglomerate that owns more companies than you can shake a stick at, and certainly more than I can list.

News America

This is a marketing company that is owned by News Corporation (News Corp), which is in turn owned by Rupert Murdock, as in the Fox News Rupert Murdock. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Murdock’s conservative beliefs outweigh his desire for profit.

Papa John’s

The pizza company. Make your own.

Pepsi

The mega-conglomerate that owns just about everything you can put it your mouth, including Aquafina, Tropicana, Lipton, 7-Up, Propel, Mountain Dew, Stolichnaya, California Pizza Kitchen, as well as Wilson Sporting Goods, North American Van Lines, and scores of other products. Pepsi also has some kind of partnership deal with Starbucks.

Procter & Gamble

Everything that isn’t owned by Pepsi is owned by Proctor and Gamble, including a bunch of the stuff you will need after eating Pepsi products, stuff like Crest, Oral-B, Fix-O-Dent, Scope, Pepto-Bismol, Charmin, Pampers, Tide, Head & Shoulders, Gillette, Bounty, Olay, Pantene, Mr. Clean… The list goes on and on.

Quaker

Among a slew of breakfast cereals, including Mr. T Cereal, Quaker also owns the Aunt Jemima brand.

Verizon

Yeah, that Verizon.

Visa

It’s always better not to use a credit card anyway.

USAA

This is the financial service, banking, and insurance company that bangs the drum in its commercials for its support of military families, in part because it was founded by a group of Army officers, and in part because it targets military families in particular. It will be interesting to see if NFL-related profits outweigh the company’s conscience (not likely) or, more importantly, its image. It’s hard to wave the flag while you’re disrespecting it.

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