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Culture

ESPN’s ‘Inclusivity,’ Ironic and Illogical

In a terse, two-sentence statement, ESPN yesterday announced that it fired Curt Schilling because it’s “inclusive,” an ironic word choice if the intended meaning was that the sports network had a definite position on a contested social issue and that the “conduct” it found “unacceptable” was the public expression of a contrary opinion by an employee. Presumably the unacceptable conduct was Schilling’s sharing a Facebook post that consisted of a vulgar image and a political message.

Is the vulgarity what ESPN objected to? Or was it the substance of the message?

You object to the former because you hold to a certain standard of decorum. Being inclusive has little to do with that. In fact, if an employer did try to cast his decorum standard in terms of inclusivity and exclusivity, he would have to say that vulgarity is something that he has a responsibility to exclude from the gated community of his organization. That would make sense. It would be reasonable. What ESPN implied is something opposite.

ESPN appears to have meant the word “inclusive” not literally but as a shibboleth to certify its affiliation with the cultural Left and, more specifically, to indicate its disagreement with Schilling’s defense of North Carolina’s bathroom law. The concept that “inclusivity” signifies hardly applies in this case either. To invoke it as your reason for disagreeing with Schilling on the issue is pretty much a non sequitur.

Someone who feels awkward in the public bathrooms set aside for members of his biological sex wants to use the ladies’ room instead. Some women and girls wish he wouldn’t. It makes them feel awkward. You could say that they want to literally exclude (shut the door to keep out) men. By the same reasoning, however, a man who enters public facilities set aside for women deprives them of a kind of privacy, not by blocking their access to those facilities but by eliminating the feature that makes that kind of privacy possible. The result is that they can no longer enter the facilities as they have known them, because those facilities no longer exist.

Two values clash: his psychological comfort and theirs. He demands that the law privilege his. Should it? Choose a side. ESPN seems to be saying that it has chosen his. Social conservatives think that choice is misguided. They might at least respect ESPN if it planted a flag and said, Here we stand. Dancing around a banner and hoping we’ll get the message is not really honorable.

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