When Controversy Impacts Fans
I’m a NASCAR fan. I have been a fan since I was 13 years old. You’ll have to trust me when I say that was a very long time ago.
Over the decades NASCAR has gone through many changes. Some good. Some not so good. But one thing that has been consistent throughout its history is the sense of family between competitors and fans.
We like being race fans. We love our drivers and we’re thrilled that our stars are approachable and don’t take us for granted.
We may not like the guy another fan supports and we may kid each other about the ability of their driver compared to ours. But it’s never mean-spirited and it’s always between “family”.
So when people outside our family attack NASCAR, they’re attacking us all because we’re family. But sometimes that guilt by association impacts fans unfairly. You can’t blame all of us for the decisions made by a few of our family members. And like anyone else, we get upset and defensive. We feel the need to say, hey wait a minute now. Don’t call me names because of something a distant member of our family did.
Such is the case with Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) making the decision to name this years April race the Duck Commander 500. A decision that follows their controversial decision last year, to invite the NRA to sponsor that year’s race.
This guilt by association can’t be permitted without comment. If someone in your family robs a bank, should you be put on trial for their decision? Should your entire family be blamed and labeled as guilty because of the bad choice by one member in your clan? No of course not. So why are all NASCAR fans and tracks being labeled as bigots because of something that one of our family members has chosen to do?
In full disclosure let me say I have never seen a single episode of Duck Dynasty. It’s not my kind of show. I am averse to any show that labels itself “reality tv”. The only “reality” you will ever see on television is your Local and Network News and even then, they cover some things that I wonder “why is this news and why is it on my television?” But that’s what a remote control is for, and in our house, we use it liberally.
Also, I am not Christian and Evil is an atheist, a label he has shared a number of times here on his blog. So we don’t have a “dog” in this fight so to speak. Because of that however, we can look at this situation without having a vested interest in either side. But that might also be why we’re annoyed at being labeled conservative fundamentalist bigots. We as far removed from that perspective as one might get.
A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson made controversial comments about the Gay community and African-Americans based on his perceptions of the Christian Bible. In the January issue of GQ, Robertson said homosexuality is a sin and puts it in the same category as bestiality and promiscuity. His comments generated an outcry of outrage from these communities and others who do not share his view.
This is America, he has a right to speak his mind and his beliefs as he sees them. We don’t have to agree with what he says. But if you’re going to claim that America is the land of the Free, you’re going to have accept that some people are going to say things you don’t agree with and that offend you greatly.
Like those people, you have a right to voice your outrage. But make sure you’re pointing the finger at the person who deserves your anger and limit it to the collateral damage. I received angry and nasty emails from people blasting me for what he said, for no other reason than I’m a spiritual Minister. Guilt by association is stupidity in action. ..did I mention, I’m not Christian?! I wrote an article for my blog about Bigotry Cloaked in Religion is Still Bigotry. So I wasn’t quiet on the matter either. But simply because someone shares an interest, in this case being a spiritual teacher/minster, some people label you as guilty without thinking.
Now because of his comments, A&E Suspended Phil Robertson from his show Duck Dynasty. As a result, fans of the show and people who never saw the show but agreed with his Biblical stance protested the suspension. A week later A&E Announced Phil’s Return. Stating it would include him in future tapings of the reality television show, effectively lifting the suspension amid a flurry of petitions in support of Robertson.
Both decisions were business. I don’t think it had anything to do with the political outcry on either side. A&E is in the business to make money and their decisions to suspend and then lift that suspension were based on their bottom line. And for all the outcry that came when the suspension occurred in support of the family, the show has taken a hit in the ratings and the family themselves are uncertain of its future. And that’s how it should be. Use your voice and your vote for support or protest with your wallet and turn the channel.
The Side Issue
The controversy continues with Fundamentalist Christians wanting to know “why someone quoting from the Bible is homophobic”? Now to me this is a secondary issue and a totally different controversy. But every time I see a story about the Robertsons, I see some type of statement like this.
Not being Christian I’m sure I could get into a huge debate about this one. But since I’m not Christian, I’d rather point to someone who is and let them explain issue in much greater detail and with greater knowledge than I have. So I’ll point you to a heterosexual Christian who did the research and explains this in an effort to educate all Christians. Of course there will be people who ignore this and want to hold onto their inaccurate view of their spiritual path. But if you believe in a religion and hold it near and dear to your heart, I think you should follow it based on accuracy, not hype and manipulation.
Turned Away, He Turned To The Bible
By DOUGLAS QUENQUA
Published: September 14, 2012 : A Synopsis follows:
Matthew Vines was forced to leave the Wichita, Kansas church he had attended since birth, not because he is gay, but because he tried to convince people there was nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. Mr Vines took a leave of absence from Harvard, where he was studying philosophy, to offer a lesson on the Bible and same-sex relations. “It is simply a fact that the Bible does not discuss or condemn loving, gay relationships.” said Mr. Vines, “The point is that these texts have a meaning, and the traditional reading of them [today] is wrong. It is incorrect — biblically, historically, linguistically.” In March 2012, he delivered and videotaped a lecture on this subject. He then posted it to YouTube. In it, Mr. Vines tackles the traditional interpretations of all six Bible passages that refer to homosexual acts, arguing that they don’t actually condemn, or even address, the modern understanding of homosexuality.
The lecture is 67 minutes long, but it is well worth the time to watch it and learn from it. “It is a dense and scholarly presentation, drawing from history, theology, hermeneutics and ancient Greek.” and that certainly describes this excellent lecture. It has been viewed more than 650,000 times since the writing of this article, and has over 12,000 comments. Matthew’s book, “God and the Gay Christian,” will be published by Crown/Random House in May 2014.
So that’s the basis for the new controversy that has hit NASCAR through the announcement of TMS to host the company of the Robertson’s Duck Command, Inc. as their race sponsor.
Texas Motor Speedway Promotion
Every track in the world has a promoter on their staff. Tracks are in the business of hosting races and making money. And it’s the sponsorship part of their promotional efforts that help them make that money. Again..it’s business!
Any marketing executive will tell you there’s no such thing as bad press. It’s not for everyone, but for many, controversy sells! TMS has proven that it works for them. Last year when they acquired both praise from gun owners and condemnation from gun control advocates they hit on a formula that brought attention to their event. And that’s the name of the game for promoting something.
Their plans for the NRA sponsorship in 2013 got their race in front of a much larger audience than they could have dreamed of, had they played it safe. Their sponsorship agreement gained them a spot on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight for pete’s sake! That put their little Texas race on not only a national platform, but an international stage! His response was so emotionally heated that it received notice from Business Insiders magazine which provided Texas with an even larger audience for the track!
10 years from now, when you ask someone who doesn’t follow racing if they “remember when the NRA or Duck Dynasty sponsored a race in Texas?” they’re going to say: “I know there’s a track in Texas, but I don’t remember why I know that”. Promotion is part of business and TMS knows how to play the game. They also know how to rake in the profits from it too.
Both supporters and protesters turned out for that race in 2013. And whither they realized it or not, those protesters were spending money at the track on food and drink, which aided the track in making money for the promoters they were there to protest. Their controversial formula worked then and it will probably work again this year.
So why wouldn’t TMS try the same formula this year by bringing in Duck Commander Inc. to sponsor their April race? Whither they agree with the comments made by the Robertson patriarch or not, the track realizes the promotional value of the family and their A&E show for their area of the state.
Yes NASCAR had to approve the sponsorship. But they’re not stupid either. Not approving the association would gain them much greater criticism than approval. They know their fan base in that area. It’s Texas for goodness sake. Of course most of the state is Christian and approves of the comments made by Robertson.
But Texas is only one stop in NASCARs tour around the U.S. So why should the rest of us be blamed for the view of this one family and people like them? The U.S. is filled with a variety of perspectives, views and political positions. Would this association work out as well in New Hampshire? Or New York? Or even over in northern California? I doubt it.
I can guarantee you that it’s not supported by every NASCAR fan out there either. But I can hold the opposite view held by the Robertsons and not accuse every other NASCAR fan of being ignorant bigots. If I don’t agree with what they said, I know there are thousands of other NASCAR fans who share my view.
Now on the other side of the coin, TMS What are you thinking?! NASCAR continually says if it were not for our fans we wouldn’t be here. So didn’t you think about how your decision and invitation would impact your fans? I know there are a lot who would agree with the Robertsons, but excuse me…there are a lot of us who don’t! And quite frankly our dollars and out loyalty has value too! I understand the business choice. But come on! I might be born in the south, I might be a huge NASCAR fan, and I might be ok with being called a Redneck from time to time. But many of us are educated professionals from all walks of life and we are all the face of NASCAR racing! Maybe you need to start thinking about how your choices at the track affect all of us over all. Because we don’t watch one race at one track we like. We watch them all. And if you run us off from one, you’re liable to run us away from them all.
NASCAR is a business. Track promotion is a part of that business. Every business person must know their customer and understand their audience. TMS understands that very well. They know what sells in their region and how to market their product to the greatest number of people possible. Even if those people are outside their region. There will be a number of people who tune to that race in April to see “if anything happens”, or “what gets said about the controversy”.
Face it, that’s just the way thing are today in America. People want to tune in for the wrecks. But don’t expect everyone tuning in to be look for the same thing you are. I’d rather see a race with no wrecks at all. But I’m a race fan, not a wreck fan.
Whither you agree with TMS or not, each time you mention their name or their decisions to invite the Duck Commander company to their track, you are giving them free advertising. You are helping them put their brand in front of people who might otherwise have no idea who they are. I doubt they’ll reach out to say thank you for the free advertising.
But please, stop point your fingers at all of us out here who love our NASCAR racing. Who dream of going to the next race where we might see our favorite driver win and hoist a trophy. We’re not interested in merging your political issues with your national pastime. We follow racing because it allows us to escape the stress of work for a few hours. Because it allows us to spend some time with some fun and something we enjoy. You don’t have to understand it, but you don’t have the right to condemn it.
So please, keep your animosity about someone and what they said directed at that person and their actions. Stop blaming the rest of us for their ignorant bigotry. If you want to make your point, put your moral code into action where it will hurt the most. Don’t buy their product, don’t tune into their show, don’t support their event. Your money talks much louder than your angry negative words directed at people who have nothing to do with the controversy in the first place. And some might say, you’re negative name calling and generalizations are no different from what you’re protesting. Look in a mirror my friend, what you don’t like about someone else, is something you might be doing yourself.
…a Liberal, Gay Rights and Racial Equality Promoting, NASCAR Fan!
#SmokeWillRise!! ~ #14 in 2014
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