When the Vikings released an abbreviated report on the Kluwe saga this past Friday, what should've been the headline--Mike Priefer did, in fact, use a homophobic slur, lied about it twice before admitting it, and getting suspended for it--quickly became something much uglier.
Former punter Chris Kluwe has said that part of the reason he has been a crusader for Gay Rights and marriage equality is to help change the culture in the NFL. Yet apparently, he contributed as much to that 'locker room culture' as anyone. And as such, his moral authority, which was bestowed upon him with his January Deadspin story, is gone.
In the report, it was documented that Kluwe had mocked former Vikings Strength and Conditioning Coach Tom Kanavy, a Penn State grad, over the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. How? By tearing a hole in the back of his pants, and saying he was a Penn State victim.
Oh, but Kluwe had a good defense, or excuse. You see, it was joke. And everybody was doing it:
Sure I gave my strength coach a hard time. Once. I made a joke about the Sandusky case, because he was a big Penn State guy.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) July 19, 2014
Over half the team did it for over a month, including asking him if he "raped any little boys lately," repeatedly, in front of coaches.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) July 19, 2014
Oh, well that makes it okay then. I guess. Or maybe not. See, in the report that the Vikings released on Friday, it was found that Mike Priefer did, in fact, say that all the gays should be rounded up on an island and nuked. Once. It was corroborated by long snapper Cullen Loeffler. Only, Loeffler said that Priefer made that statement in a 'joking manner''. Let's go to the report, shall we?
Loeffler reported, however, that he did hear Priefer make a comment about "putting all the gays on an island and nuking it" while on the practice field at Winter Park. Loeffler said that Priefer made this statement after becoming frustrated that Loeffler and Kluwe were not focused on football during practice. Loeffler commented that he did not think that Priefer was serious when he made the "nuclear" comment and that he thought Priefer was just trying to stop Kluwe and Loeffler's joking around. Furthermore, Loeffler said that both he and Kluwe laughed off Priefer's comment at the time. Loeffler did not corroborate Kluwe's claims regarding any other comments Priefer allegedly made.
Oh, so I guess joking about one thing is okay, but joking about another is bad. Got it.
Look, I'm not trying to say Priefer shouldn't have been suspended over what he said, but does anyone else see the hypocrisy in all of this? Remember, Kluwe had a couple of reasons for writing that Deadspin story. In one of his last sentences, he said:
All we can do is try to expose their behavior when we see it and call them to account for their actions.
Oh, cool. So you won't mind if we continue then, will you? Later, as the backlash over those actions and a couple of other tweets Kluwe sent out started to grow, Kluwe tried to clarify the Penn State and Sandusky thing by saying he was mocking the culture that allowed that to happen:
@johnkriesel So let's get this straight. Me mocking the culture of Penn State, which allowed the coverup to happen, is terrible. Gotcha.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) July 19, 2014
That's a reply to John Kriesel, former Minnesota Representative and huge stadium proponent. Kriesel told him that both what him and Priefer did were bad, and that was Kluwe's response.
A response I find incredibly vapid, obtuse, and disingenuous. If he really was trying to 'mock the culture', he couldn't have picked a worse way to do it. Everyone was outraged about what happened at Penn State, but no one walked around work with a hole in the back of their shorts trying to show how a corrupt culture could bring something like that about.
Well, no one except Chris Kluwe, apparently.
Kluwe and his lawyer have alleged that the partial report the Vikings released Friday is full of lies, and in the end, he very well may be right. For all we know, Priefer said every single thing Kluwe alleges, and when this goes to trial it will come out. And if that's the case, I hope that justice is served.
But no matter what happens in the trial, Chris Kluwe has lost all moral high ground in this, and he won't be getting it back anytime soon. Because at the end of the day, he's acted in ways not much better than the people he's accusing.
ADDENDUM, written by KJSegall
I want to add a few thoughts here of my own. Prior to Kluwe's Twitter rant, I was a large supporter of his in all of this. Yes, I did not always agree with him- I even wrote a piece a while back downing some of his methods. But I never doubted that he was telling the truth, and that his intentions were (mostly) pure. And it is true, what he has done for LGBT rights- both in Minnesota and abroad- was and is irreplaceable, and the good he accomplished can never be taken away from him. But I don't want him ever being a spokesman for that cause again, and frankly, I think at this point any settlement money should go to children's advocacy charities instead of equal rights charities; not because I don't think the latter deserves the support, but because of Kluwe's stunning hypocrisy.
Ted wrote his thoughts regarding his Penn State jokes above, and I won't touch much on them here. Frankly, that wasn't even my biggest issue with what he tweeted the other night. My number one, enormous, and unforgiveable issue is the tweet regarding an underage girl, one who was apparently caught in a compromising position with two well-known Vikings.
I have thought about that a LOT, because frankly when he first tweeted it I saw RED. To quote Spock, I was "emotionally compromised". It infuriated me, enraged me to the point that I literally just shut up- I didn't initially tweet about it, didn't say a word via social media. (And if you follow me on Twitter, you ought to know how much it takes to get me to shut up.) But even after all this thinking, I still remain with a few conclusions, and they all revolve around one simple fact:
Kluwe had no right, no business tweeting that out like that, and he is an asshole for doing so.
Was it the reported fiasco with Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice that Deadspin wrote about a few years back? Kluwe said we hadn't heard about it (albeit, ‘on the national news', so maybe there's that), and he's probably well aware of what Deadspin wrote so I'm not sure that's it. But it really doesn't matter. There are only three possible conclusions one can make about that tweet, and if Kluwe wants to call them ‘assumptions', that's fine because semantics won't change the results.
Scenario the first- There was an awkward scenario but nothing illegal actually happened. ‘Compromising position' is a tricky phrase. We typically figure it means something illegal, but that's not always the truth. If this is true, the Kluwe is threatening to drag the names of two men who are actually innocent through mud with about the worst single thing you can accuse someone of- sexually abusing a child.
Scenario the second- Something very illegal and very horrible happened. Kluwe was well aware of it for years but, rather than notify the police (which can be done anonymously), he chose to sit on it and use it as an ‘ace up the sleeve' because he's pissed off at the Vikings right now. An underage girl was hurt, and to Kluwe she is nothing but a very useful pawn.
Scenario the third- Something illegal happened, the proper authorities were notified, and a settlement occurred. People have a knee-jerk reaction to this scenario sometimes and forget a very, very important thing to always remember: sometimes, the victim and her family DON'T WANT LEGAL ACTION. You can say ‘well, then they grabbed cash at the expense of their child' but again that's a gross oversimplification of a VERY complicated scenario. Maybe the victim is terribly embarrassed and wants all this to remain a secret. Maybe she wants it to go away. Maybe both her and her family agree that getting money for her to attend college, move to a nicer neighborhood, etc. is better ‘closure' and ‘recompense' for something that may never be fully closed or compensated than seeing the men go to jail. You can NOT judge any victim OR their family in these scenarios for how they want to move forward. And if this was the situation, then Kluwe could be threatening the victim's, and her family's, desire for privacy. Again... all just to lash out at the Vikings.
Whether it was the Jackson-Rice ‘incident' (which was never proven, by the way) or something else doesn't actually impact the matter of these three scenarios (or ‘assumptions'). No matter which of these is the truth, Kluwe did something horrible and absolutely unforgiveable, and in the end, he very potentially used a child victim as a mere pawn in a pissing match with his old employer. He has, as Ted said, ceded any and all moral high ground now. Mike Priefer was wrong for what he said and did but now Kluwe has done worse, period.
Again, coupling this truly disturbing fact with his Penn State antics (and bizarrely asinine and juvenile defense of such), I think he needs to own up to what he's done and send any and all money taken from a settlement to children's foundations. Because while he has stood up for LGBT rights, he has twice used children's suffering either as a joke or- unbelievably worse- a pawn. If two Vikings players really did harm an underage girl, then they used her as a thing; well, so has Kluwe, now.
Again, the good he's done can never be taken away from him. But he has lost my support forever now. I never want him to publicly stand up for LGBT rights- ever again- because it will just drip with disgusting hypocrisy and taint the entire movement.
Go away Kluwe. Sue the Vikings, get your settlement, donate it. And just go away.