On ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo Monday, host Scott Van Pelt discussed his disappointment with the “shouting match” that erupted over the selection of the first openly gay player. The host said that unfortunately for many who were “pro-Michael Sam,” it wasn’t enough to applaud, it was “applaud and preach at anybody that wasn’t themselves applauding at that particular moment.”
Van Pelt, who describes himself as “socially liberal,” began his comments by saying that he had intended to base the day’s “The One Big Thing” segment on the reaction to Michael Sam’s drafting, but decided against it, saying, “I don’t know if I can say what I think without getting myself shouted down.”
Van Pelt said that while he believed his pro-Michael Sam/pro-gay marriage stance was abundantly clear to the audience, he still did not trust that he could comment honestly on the volatile issue due to the unreasonable reaction he had observed by many on the left.
He went on to explain that those, like himself, who perceive themselves as “tolerant” and socially liberal often “demand” that others “think and feel exactly what we think and feel—and if you don’t, you will be shouted down as bigot.” In the case of Sam, Van Pelt argued, it was not enough for many liberals to just applaud the moment. “It was applaud and preach” at those who didn’t feel the same.
Here is the key section of Van Pelt's opening remarks:
I’m pro-Michael Sam. I’m pro-gay marriage. I’m pro pretty much anything that involves consenting adults so long as it’s mostly legal and nobody gets hurt.
And it seems that most of the people in our industry are and most of the people that I follow on Twitter are. And the thing that I noticed is that I think when we the “tolerant,” the socially liberal, I think we fancy ourselves smarter than other people that aren’t as evolved socially as we are. What ends up happening is we demand that you think and feel exactly what we think and feel—and if you don’t, you will be shouted down as a bigot.
And this Sam reaction was visceral... I think most people... I’m applauding, “Great, I’m thrilled for everyone.” But if somebody would say—and they can do it without being a bigot, if they can do it without being hateful—if someone just says, “You know, I don’t know how I felt about seeing that,” or “I felt uncomfortable seeing that,” I think we have to be able to allow someone to say that—so long as they’re not being hateful—and be able to respect that as a feeling.
But that’s not what happens. You just get shouted down as a bigot... And there are bigoted people and there are hateful people and there are dumb people that take the other side. But my reaction is just that... no discussion ever happens when both sides yell because nobody listens.
It wasn’t enough to just applaud. It was applaud and preach at anybody that wasn’t themselves applauding at that particular moment.
Conversation occurs in 5/12/14 podcast, Hour 1, beginning at 1:44 mark.