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May 29, 2004
Slaves, Revisited

One last point regarding Reggie Rivers' screed yesterday: the NFL seems to produce slavery analogies on a regular basis. After reading his column, it reminded me of another, more famous NFL star who claimed to be the victim of slavery:

The way Warren Sapp apparently sees it, his human rights have been violated. ... If you missed it, his comments followed a spat involving LaVar Arrington of the Washington Redskins. Arrington threatened retaliation if Sapp ran or jumped through the Redskins' pregame warmup line at FedEx Field, as he has done in the past.

The NFL responded by warning that a 15-yard penalty would be assessed on the opening kickoff if a player disrupted warmups - and that anyone involved in fighting would face ejection.

Sapp told Jay Glazer of cbs.sportsline before Sunday's game: "(Arrington) got what he wanted. He snitched, and the slave master came down. Stop a man from doing what he's been doing for nine years, and now there's a rule against me? . . . It's a slave system. Make no mistake about it. Slave master says you can't do it, then don't do it. They'll make an example out of you."

Human rights organizations aren't rushing to investigate.

You might think the notion of Warren Sapp selling himself as a victim is ludicrous -- and you'd be right. Sapp has a habit of drawing attention to himself and then acts wounded when consequences follow. He skips through the opposing team's warmups like Little Red Riding Hood and then refuses to take the responsibility for the reaction. Similarly, after he celebrated the concussion he caused a Green Bay player on a vicious but legal hit by dancing all over the field like an idiot, he became irate when the Packers head coach told him off, threatening to beat the older (and unpadded) man. What Sapp refers to as "slavery," the rest of us understand as "following the rules," and I suspect that Rivers has the same philosophy as Sapp, based on his column.

Perhaps both Rivers and Sapp should learn something about real slavery:

When Siri was 13 years old, her parents sold her to a broker for about $2000. The broker, a woman from a nearby village, approached Siris parents and promised good work in the city for Siri and her sisters. Siris parents may have known that Siri was headed to a life of forced prostitution, since other girls from their rural village had been taken away in the same manner and returned years later, kicked out of the brothel only when they were dying of AIDS. Siris parents were poor rice farmers in the north of Thailand, where the selling of a daughter is seen as difficult, but in some cases a socially acceptable way for a family to save itself from financial hardship. Siri believed she was contributing to the good of the family, and went with the broker.

After the broker sold Siri to a brothel for $4000, Siri was told she must re-pay four times her original purchase price to gain her freedom, and additionally she would have to pay room rent, food and medicine costs. The method by which Siri was supposed to re-pay this debt was to sleep with 10 to 15 men per night.

During her first night at the brothel, Siri realized what she was going to be forced to do. Horrified and injured, she ran away at her first opportunity. However, she was on the street with no money, and she was quickly caught by the slaveholder, dragged back, beaten and raped. That night she was forced to take on a continuous string of clients until morning. The beatings and the work continued night after night until her will was completely broken.

Enough of NFL stars tossing slavery accusations around to excuse their behavior or their ill-informed opinions. Contracts are not slavery, the NFL is not a plantation (or worse), and consequences are not abuse. The marketing of victimhood by these supposedly manly celebrities is not only ludicrous, it's laughable, and makes them look ridiculous.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 29, 2004 9:57 AM

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