Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Sports, culture clashes, and a little politics

Just when the fall election campaign is getting intense, we’re getting tired of politics. So we’re breaking the monotony with a sports/entertainment/culture edition of the Pig/Webb column.

Pro football quarterback Colin Kaepernick has created a firestorm by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Is he taking a principled stand, or is he a rich, spoiled sports star who deserves a spanking?

Pignanelli: "I stand obediently for the national anthem, though of course I would defend your right to remain seated should you so decide” — Ira Glasser

After a long summer of nasty politics, this guy reminds us of why America is already great (Take that Trump!). In other countries Kaepernick would be imprisoned or hospitalized. But in the USA his fortune is bolstered by skyrocketing purchases of his jersey — mostly by aggravated fans to burn the clothing in protest of him.

There is nothing more American than professional football and the money made by players, owners and sponsors. Kaepernick has a right to protest the country, but has little credibility attacking the system until he departs from its benefits.

Kaepernick will soon fade away- after enriching himself. Only in America!

Webb: All Americans, including sports stars, are free to make any protest statement they wish. I obviously don’t know Kaepernick, but I assume his feelings about black oppression and police brutality are sincere. However, he unfairly smears the entire law enforcement community by wearing socks portraying police officers as pigs. I hope young people who might consider him a role model are not influenced by this disgusting behavior.

If he is really concerned about black lives, he would have a dramatically bigger impact by using his influence and wealth to reduce black-on-black violence in places like Chicago, where the number of murders in a couple of months far outpaces cases of actual police brutality across the entire nation over many years.

Every fall the Salt Lake Acting Company performs Saturday’s Voyeur, which pokes fun at (some would say demeans) Mormons. This year, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz scheduled a fundraising event in conjunction with the performance last Friday. Some say this is a strange way to woo Mormon voters, especially when Congressional candidate Doug Owens is airing commercials advertising his Mormon roots. What is it with these Democrats?

Pignanelli: Serving ham to Jewish guests and wearing a baseball cap at High Mass are examples of actions not illegal, but clueless and insensitive. Weinholtz is a decent, ecumenical person whose campaign made a decision that opened him for attacks of insensitivity.

Most Utahns, some begrudgingly, agree that our culture is so unique and different that it demands good-natured mockery. For almost 40 years Saturday's Voyeur has provided a clever ribbing of the state’s leaders and lifestyle. (I was in the audience from the beginning.) But over time the talented authors and actors increasingly crossed the line from funny tweaking to disparaging religious beliefs. Never accused of being a prude, even I became uncomfortable and stopped attending. Many experienced this discomfort and the performance developed a reputation, especially in the LDS community and among those who never attended, for harshness.

Most Democrats are working hard to assure LDS faithful they share common values. To avoid stereotyping and accusations of insensitivity by GOP activists, they must exercise political shrewdness and commonsense when planning public events. For the common good, we all hope this controversy ends soon and lessons are learned.

Webb: I feel truly privileged to be a member of the last group on earth that can be mocked without worry of being politically incorrect. You must be very judicious in what you say about blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, those with disabilities, Italian lobbyists (that would be Frank), etc., but go ahead and ridicule old, white, male, conservative, Republican Mormons (that would be me).

But that’s OK. If I start to feel really insecure, I’m sure I can go up to the U. and find a safe place where no one will oppress me.

I’m glad my church is mature enough to understand that when you get big and successful you become an inevitable target by those who are jealous and small, who get their jollies by belittling others.

Saturday, the U of U/BYU rivalry broke out on the football field. Our deadline precluded us from knowing the outcome as of this writing, but it allows us to ask: Is the Mormon/non-Mormon culture clash getting better or worse in Utah?

Pignanelli: Unfair bigoted remarks against Mormons continue, as do occasional acts of unintentional insensitivity lodged against Gentiles (even to my children). But the hostility level seems to be lessening.

Webb: What was all that sweetness and love breaking out between the staunch rivals in advance of the game? Seeing the two coaches hug each other makes me worry that the UEA will soon embrace the voucher people. That Fox News and MSNBC will merge, that Donald Trump will kiss up to Vladimir Putin (oops, already happened), that my dog will start playing with the neighborhood cats, that Paul Ryan will start praising Nancy Pelosi.

Is the world going nuts?

All I know is that if the Utes won, they surely must have cheated. :)