Football, Apple Pie, and War

 

This is a post about how American ignorance, fake morals and values, and stigma can play into any segment of our society as they do with sex work. This post is about politics playing a role in areas politics has no business being in. This post is about the commercial marketing of war at the expense of those who have already paid for it.  This post is about Colin Kaepernick, the NFL, and very rich white men. If you’re not interested in this subject, I apologize for wasting your time. If you are, please read on!

One autumn day last year, Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, quietly took a knee during the National Anthem to protest the rash of shootings by police of black Americans. Virtually no one noticed this at the time. However, when it was brought to the usually-short attention span of the American public, a groundswell of outrage grew to the point where, after the season, Kaepernick was released from the team. Other players joined in on the protest, but Kaepernick was singled out as the primary “antagonist” and has received the brunt of American patriotic fury to the point where he has been blackballed by the posse of billionaires who own NFL teams. As a result of these protests, the NFL suffered a decline in the all-important ratings numbers. Ratings equal dollars, and the most important part of any business is dollars. The American public screamed, “Keep politics out of our football”, a notion I totally support. But Kaepernick was not responsible for bringing politics into football – the NFL and the Pentagon were.

You enter Met Life Stadium in New Jersey, passing the American flags hanging from the light stanchions in the parking lot. You take your seat and wait for the game to start. There is a tribute to military members who served time in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Hundreds of police and military unfurl a 300’ x 160’ American flag as the National Anthem is played. Some people stand & remove their headwear – others chat or wait in line for their cold Budweisers. All in all, this is a marvelous example of Military Americana – in other words, politics. How great is it that the NFL allows the military to honor its members with such a display! But wait – is it really the NFL showing its patriotism, altruism, and support for those who lay their lives on the line to defend our great nation? No, it’s not – it is a paid commercial, a sales and marketing ploy. What is the product being sold? Militarism and war. Who is really paying for these efforts? Those who have already served and struggle for assistance the Pentagon will not give them.

I am enraged every time I see a commercial for organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project. When I incur a bill for actions I have taken, I assume full responsibility for the cost. The Pentagon is responsible for every veteran who suffers from physical or psychological disability due to their military service. The Pentagon has carte blanche when it comes to starting or conducting a new or existing action or developing new and wonderful ways to kill people, and yet there are thousands of vets who struggle due to inadequate care. Surely a couple million dollars could help this effort. So how does the Pentagon spend their money? By pumping millions of dollars into promotions at sporting events to recruit even more people for their purposes. Here’s a link to a quick breakdown of how the Pentagon spends money on recruitment and desensitization instead of taking care of those who served –

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2015/11/paid_patriotism_the_pentagon_gave_50_sports_teams_taxpayer_money_to_honor.htm

As the graph shows, although many sports participate in this marketing program, the NFL receives the lion’s share of both the “tributes” and taxpayer dollars. This makes sense, as football has replaced baseball as “America’s favorite sport”. What better way is there for the Pentagon to spread a message than through the outlet with the largest viewership? What better way is there for the NFL to advertise its product as “America’s Game” by playing the patriotism game? Do you not like Slate as a source? Here’s another – http://www.businessinsider.com/the-pentagon-pays-the-nfl-millions-to-honor-veterans-at-games-2015-5

As of today, Colin Kaepernick still does not have a job in the NFL, despite the fact he has proven he is better at his job than many quarterbacks that will be starters for their teams come the beginning of the season. He has been vilified by fans of the sport as being a “spoiled millionaire” as though this somehow makes him less human and not allowed to express his views on events he feels are injustices. He has been labeled as a “distraction” while the NFL has no qualms with putting players with actual violent offenses on the field. The party line is that these players “are better at their positions”, which somehow negates the distraction or negativity of having a domestic abuser representing “the brand”, as Emperor Goodell puts it. The NFL’s bottom line is “You can beat your significant other but don’t you dare disrespect the flag”. (I could go into a tirade about the “patriots” who I see disrespecting the flag every day, but that’s for another time) When we look at domestic abuse statistics, this is, unfortunately, a much more American stance than we would care to admit.

I have seen many statements about how people will not watch NFL games due to Kaepernick. I’m sure there are sponsors for individual teams who have privately expressed this. Certainly the owners have minimal sympathy for the protests by Kaepernick and other players, as none of them have ever spent a single day being black and poor in the United States. Those who say, “Kaepernick just isn’t good enough” are supporting the stigma against people of color which has existed forever. If a fading Payton Manning would have taken this action in his last year as a Denver Bronco, the voices screaming about patriotism and distraction would have barely been a whisper. There is a political distraction in sports. The distraction had been successfully enacted by the Pentagon the second they started to parade nationalism and market militarism and war in front of crowds at sporting events, and it is wholeheartedly supported by the leagues and the owners not due to their patriotism but due to the advertising dollars the Pentagon contributes to their coffers – dollars that should be spent on those whose lives have been adversely affected by the actions of the Pentagon.

I am a lifelong New York Giants fan. I attended my first game in 1960, when the likes of Frank Gifford, Rosie Grier, Sam Huff, and Pat Summerall wore the Blue. All my winter jackets are emblazoned with “Giants” in one form or another. I pull my money and cards from a Giants wallet every day. But I will not be watching the Giants, or any other NFL team, this year. There are many reasons for this. I find the suppression of studies regarding CTE by Goodell to “protect the brand” despicable, just as I felt Big Tobacco was criminal in suppressing studies regarding smoking and lung cancer. This is exacerbated by the hyper-competitive nature of football, where players feel they must stay on the field despite obvious or unseen injuries or risk being cut. I feel uneasy supporting a sport where a player is injured on every other play – a modern-day “Rollerball”. I am uncomfortable with Goodell being omnipotent as he doles out judgement as he sees fit instead of following a template which his vision of “the brand” does not allow to exist. Most importantly, I will not watch due to the fact the NFL, Goodell, and the owners are supporting racism (despite 67% of the players being black) by blackballing Kaepernick due to his quiet protest.

I am a veteran. I served so that citizens of the United States could have the freedoms the Constitution provides. One of the most important rights we have is the right to protest – it distinguishes us from many other countries and forms of government. To deny this to any citizen is simply un-American. I understand that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. However, in my view, the collusion between Goodell, the owners, and the Pentagon to market militarism and war is a much more objectionable statement than that which Kaepernick chose. I also greatly resent the use of NFL, and all professional and college, players as assets instead of human beings affected by current events. If Colin Kaepernick gets a job, I will think about watching. Until then, the NFL has lost a lifelong fan. I realize the impact of this will be less than miniscule. I just can’t support an organization that willingly advocates for violence and war while taking money that should be used to assist victims of violence and war, and I just can’t support an organization that could be a significant voice in difficult discussions about racism but chooses to not participate. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooperative Relationship vs. Labor-Management

I am firmly of the belief that decriminalization of and the combating of stigma towards sex work should be led by sex workers. I also believe that substantial support by clients is an integral part of this process. I have seen some sex worker organizations reject support from clients due to the view that the client is the boss and the sex worker is the employee – a labor vs. management issue. I certainly support any organization approaching the sex worker-client relationship in this manner because it’s not my place to impose my views on another. However, I personally do not conduct this relationship as one that pits one group against the other, as in a standard labor-management situation. I am a one-person business in 2 separate fields, one legal, one not so much (but hopefully legal soon). Although these ventures are not nearly as personal as sex work, they do involve business relationships rather than boss-employee scenarios. This is the way I go about my life as a client. I do not arrive at an appointment in my businesses as an employee, but as an equal partner. I make the rules, set the schedule, and determine the pay. The customer pays me. Neither of us is “boss” – we’re in a cooperative relationship. When I go to an appointment as a client, I understand and willingly (gleefully!) accept that the SW sets the rules, the schedule, and the payment. I am certainly NOT the “boss” and would never take that role. My companion and I are in a mutual business relationship, beneficial to both. I will abide by the rules – no haggling, no passive-aggressive coercion for services or time, no bullshit. “Anything goes” is a misconception shared by much of the uneducated public and far too many clients who feel their $ makes them the boss. It does not. Spending time with a sex worker is a privilege, not an entitlement, and for me, not a case of labor vs. management but more a case of two people enjoying each other’s company and caress within the framework of the sex worker’s comfort level. No more, no less.

Signs Revisited

Thanks to the 5 Man Electrical Band. I can be a bit political…

 

And the Sign Said, “Vote for this candidate –

He’s Gonna Save Your Town”

But when he talked, it wasn’t ‘bout bringing us up,

Just cuttin’ the other guy down.

He didn’t say a word about what would get done,

Just what the other guy wouldn’t do –

I put on my coat, and said, “You want MY vote?

Imagine ME voting for you!”

 

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs

Everybody’s sticking to their own party lines –

Vote for me, not him –

Can’t you read the signs?

 

And the sign said, “Vote for ME

Because I stand for Truth”

But the next thing I know, he’s running the machine

In the voting booth..

“There’s no conflict of interest”, he swore up and down

I’m a God-fearing man, not a sinner”.

I peeked in the Stretch, and said, “God would retch

If you actually came out the winner!”

 

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs,

Everybody’s sticking to their own party lines –

Vote for me, not him –

Can’t you read the signs?

 

Now, listen, mister, can’t you see –

Your vote is wasted unless it’s one for me –

If you don’t belong to the majority,

You got no right to be here!

 

And the sign said, “Everyone enter –

I’m gonna save your world”

And then he put up a picture with guns and bombs

And the American flag unfurled.

So I got me a platform and stood on top,

And these are the words I said,

“How the fuck you gonna save us all

If you can’t even keep all of us fed?”

 

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs,

Littering the scenery while everybody whines.

Do this, don’t do that –

Can’t you read the signs?

My Name Is Rick, Not John!

walk-a-mile-3

  My name is Rick Pettit, and I am a client of sex workers. I am in my 60s, divorced, and unattached. I run my own one-person moderately-unsuccessful service business in a small town in New England. I’m just an ordinary person – not exceptionally “beautiful” or “ugly”, not particularly well-off financially, and certainly not a hub of criminal activity. I am not a “pervert”. I do not “eye little girls with bad intent” like Aqualung. I do not abuse the women I spend time with. Most importantly, I do not “buy” anyone’s body. (There’s not enough room in my closet) I am in favor of total decriminalization of sex work. I try to actively engage the general public in discussion about the facts of sex work, and try to actively dispel the misinformation put forth by those who want to prohibit it for various reasons, some well-meaning but misdirected, some just for profit. The image portrayed in various media of drooling, sleazy “perverts” taking advantage of damaged, drug-ridden providers is meant to herd and de-humanize both sex workers and clients. We are ALL people with lives and feelings, and, yes, bills to pay. In America, money = a level of security = a level of empowerment. The money I give a sex worker makes her life easier, and the time she spends with me has more value than any material wealth to me. My life would be much poorer spiritually without the encounters I’ve shared with the women I have had the great privilege of meeting. I have made many friends in the sex work community, and I will support them however I can. I will continue to do my part by speaking out against the criminalization and stigma sex workers face. I am not afraid to show my face. I am not afraid to use my real name. I am an adult, and how I choose to spend my time and money is MY FUCKING BUSINESS. If I can share a moment or two of pleasure in exchange for a little financial support for a friend, it makes my pleasure all the more complete. I do not speak as a representative for any group – this is my voice only. Let’s recap. My name is Rick Pettit and I support safe, consensual sex work and those who practice it, because you’re supposed to support your friends. Thanks!