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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Column: Dear Facebook debaters: Siding with contrarians will never make you ‘woke’

<p>Baylor head women's coach Kim Mulkey calls in a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 86-48. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte)</p>

Baylor head women's coach Kim Mulkey calls in a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 86-48. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte)

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey made some controversial comments over the weekend. Speaking to an audience at a basketball game, the championship-winning coach spoke — indirectly — about the sexual assault scandals gripping her school.

“If somebody is around you and they ever say, ‘I will not send my daughter to Baylor,’” she told the crowd, “you knock them right in the face.”

Her speech was met by applause, but after the game, she was asked to clarify.

“This is a great institution,” she told reporters. “The problems we have at Baylor are no different than the problems at any other school in America.”

But I don’t want to talk about Mulkey. Instead, I want to talk about Jason Whitlock.

Whitlock is a talking head on Fox Sports 1, the opinion-focused network that has poached “talent” like Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd and Whitlock himself from ESPN.

Whitlock has become known for his unusual — and sometimes controversial — opinions, including what he had to say about Mulkey’s comments.

“Consider Kim Mulkey a friend,” he wrote on Twitter. “Tremendous leader and human. Her contributions to advancement of female athletes speak louder than her critics.”

Like Mulkey’s own words, Whitlock’s struck me as being tone deaf. Maybe she is a great leader, but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to criticism when she says something questionable. And what she said is, at the very least, questionable.

One of Whitlock’s followers, going by “The Coganator,” noticed the same thing and asked him about it.

“Still…” he wrote, “do you think she misspoke or should’ve said nothing? Or media twisting it?”

Whitlock responded with a quote tweet minutes later.

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“Media twisting.” he wrote. “Any objective person knows exactly what she said.”

Saying that “any objective person” would see things the same way he does is pretty radical, but I’ll say this for Whitlock: It’s nice to see someone take the non-typical side of an issue. He’s not being particularly mean about his views or anything — they’re just different. Which is fine.

“It’s important to be tolerant of people’s impure and incomplete thoughts,” he once wrote on his blog, j.school, distinguishing between “thoughts” and “beliefs.”

That’s the good thing about Whitlock: even if you disagree with him, he expresses his views in a way that encourages productive disagreement.

The bad thing about him is that, at least on the Mulkey issue, he assumes he’s right.

It’s evident by his use of “media twisting.” In other words, if you don’t agree with him, you’re just a sheep succumbing to the influence of the mainstream media who can’t think for him/herself.

Anyone who thinks “objectively” will obviously agree with him, because he’s the perfect thinker.

This attitude permeates not just sports media, but media in general.

Sean Hannity is always right.

Rachel Maddow is always right.

Stephen A. Smith is always right.

And if you disagree, you can go f--- yourself.

Why? Because as Fox Sports’ Clay Travis — another person who is always right — wrote in a recent column, if they weren’t always right, they wouldn’t have jobs.

Being a contrarian pays. “Ruffling feathers” pays. Being an a--hole pays. Nuanced discussion does not.

And while many times Whitlock surely shares his true thoughts — his “objective” thoughts — it’s important to remember that he’s automatically biased, because he isn’t getting paid to say agreeable things.

So if you’re someone who looks at him — or Maddow or Hannity or Stephen A. — and thinks, “Finally! Someone gets it,” think again.

Or better yet, think for yourself.

Ethan Bauer is the sports editor. His columns appear on Wednesdays. Contact him at ebauer@alligator.org, and follow him on Twitter @ebaueri.

Baylor head women's coach Kim Mulkey calls in a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 86-48. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte)

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