Jon Gruden Is Just The Beginning
Plus Aaron Renn on DIY Families, podcast with Bret Baier, Items of Interest
Jon Gruden’s quick forced resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday is a new level of cancel culture mission creep, and you should care about it, because it’s probably going to happen to you.
Now, as I’ve said before and truly believe, cancel culture is an overused term that is often too vague in its deployment. Properly defined, cancel culture requires someone to be truly “cancelled” - meaning that they lose their livelihood and their ability to work in their sphere. That’s probably not true of Gruden, because I believe he’ll eventually be a coach or an NFL commentator again. And that’s one reason why I personally think we should just use cancel culture to talk about situations where normal, non-famous people are targeted and taken down. When Josh Hawley’s book contract is canceled, he can go to another publisher. When a celebrity loses out on an endorsement or a job, they can go make a different movie. It’s not fair, but it’s not as destructive as say destroying the livelihood and reputation of a small business owner over some Facebook posts, or making a college student lose her scholarship over some Tik Toks. There’s a difference in scale.
What happened to Jon Gruden, though, is more concerning because it involved private communications and emails with friends - something that was never supposed to be public or be seen by anyone else. In that private context, he said a bunch of things that were offensive - from The New York Times:
Gruden’s messages were sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others, while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football,” the sports network’s weekly prime-time telecast of N.F.L. games. In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014…
In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell and offensive language to describe some N.F.L. owners, coaches and journalists who cover the league.
To me, this is the kind of thing you could hear at any sports bar in America on an average NFL Sunday in public. Gruden didn’t say these things publicly, though - he made insensitive racial comments, called Roger Goodell a fag, he made anti-woke comments about Michael Sam and others, sure, not good… but who hasn’t sent an email or a text that could be considered offensive if shared to the whole wide world? Who hasn’t sent dozens of them over the years? If private conversation - truly private, not even taking place during a period where Gruden was an NFL employee, can be used to take you out, it means we’re truly in a new arena of judgment.
To be honest, the most troublesome things to come out of this email dump - which happened thanks to the investigation of the Washington Redskins for the treatment of employees - is that ESPN’s Adam Schefter apparently shares his stories with team officials for approval sometimes, and that after being fired, former Washington Head Coach Jay Gruden hasn’t even been interviewed for the investigation. Which certainly suggests that this whole internal investigation thing - backed heavily by the Washington Post - was less about changing the culture in the organization, and more about pressuring owner Dan Snyder to sell the team to Jeff Bezos (that’s the local conspiracy theory to which I subscribe).
But back to Gruden: the point is that these are not old Tweet or Facebook posts or TikToks or you name it, nor are they internal work conversations among co-workers. If the standard for anti-woke demands now creeps into your emails and text messages to your friends, it’s an entirely new standard to justify your cancellation.
It works backwards, too. Jon Gruden is getting removed from the Ring of Honor in Tampa Bay, where he won them their first Super Bowl, because of these email comments. Warren Sapp, who pled to literal domestic assault, is still right there for all to see. Dave Chappelle’s comments about DaBaby apply here.
Aaron Renn: The DIY Family | Institute for Family Studies. “Middle and upper-middle class American families have gotten used to outsourcing a lot of their life: child care, cooking, manicures, house cleaning, mowing the grass, even driving. Pandemic related health fears and work disruptions drove some people to outsource even more. Many have tried grocery delivery for the first time, for example. Like a modern lower end version of a Gilded Age baron, many Americans are now catered to by an army of part-time servants.
“But the sustainability of paying people to do things for us is an open question. Many of these outsourced services rely on poorly paid employees or gig workers to keep prices affordable to their customers. Even with poor pay, companies like Uber or DoorDash have still lost enormous amounts of money. They have been subsidizing their services with venture capital, creating what the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson labeled the “Millennial Lifestyle Sponsorship.” He thought it was starting to come to an end. How many outsourced services can we really afford if the workers are paid a living wage and companies actually have to make a profit?
“Beyond those questions, which were being raised pre-pandemic, there are now other issues to contend with. Inflation is squeezing household budgets. Worker shortages means some services are not as available at any price because there are no workers to do the job. Possibly these are temporary, but for now, they are real.
“All of these have created a countervailing trend of insourcing. More families are now starting to do things for themselves that they were formerly paying other people to do. Think of it as a move back to the Do-It-Yourself household.
“One area of insourcing is child care. Many day care centers were closed during the pandemic, and their employees found work elsewhere. Now, according to ABC News, the number of childcare workers is down 125,000 from pre-pandemic and many day care centers are closing. At the same time, pay is abysmal in the field, averaging only $12.24 per hour, while requirements put on workers are going up. Washington, DC passed an ordinance requiring all childcare workers to have a college degree by 2022. Many parents can’t absorb the price increases necessary to pay higher wages to day care workers. Some want the federal government to subsidize child care, but this would turn much of the economy into de facto make work jobs. People would be doing economically marginal labor that doesn’t even pay enough to offset their own costs, requiring even more subsidized support labor to close the gap. It would be better to just pay working mothers the difference directly and let them stay home with their kids.
“Many mothers are doing just that—deciding either out of preference or necessity to stop working and care for their children. About 1.6 million working mothers left the labor force during the pandemic. Some of them are now homeschooling. School closures, mask requirements, quarantine rules, and other ever-shifting pandemic rules sent many families heading for the exits of institutional schools. The number of households that are homeschooling doubled during the pandemic and is now up to 11.1% of all families with school-aged children.
“Labor shortages are showing up elsewhere in the economy, too. Good luck trying to find a contractor or handyman to take on a small home improvement project. With more people also working from home, and perhaps being concerned about the health risks of having workers in the home, do it yourself home improvement projects surged during the pandemic. Whether that will persist long term is another question, but more people are starting to take home improvement matters into their own hands.
“People also started doing more of other things in their homes during the pandemic, such as cooking. Baking became so popular that there were shortages of flour and yeast. Gardening also took off. While people have been dining and ordering food out more as the economy has reopened, some surveys suggest that a sizable majority of people plan to continue cooking at home post-pandemic.“
Items of Interest:
This week I talked with Bret Baier about his new book on Ulysses S. Grant and the contentious election of 1876 - as well as what goes into his job hosting Special Report. The podcast is here. I hope you’ll listen and subscribe!