Friday, September 14, 2007

Deflective Arguments Piss Me Off

The sports world is abuzz with the New England Patriots "SpyGate" scandal. For those not in the know, the Pats were caught blatantly filming the Jets coaches as they signaled in plays to their personnel on the field. Belichick has now been fined $500,000 for his part, and the team $250,000. Also, they'll lose a draft pick (1st Round if they make the playoffs, 2nd & 3rd Round if they don', in other words...a 1st Round pick).

I'm hearing an awful lot of people (particularly former players who are now commentators) saying things like "everybody does it...they just got caught."

I'd like to take a moment and suggest something: the fact that other teams may have done this same thing is irrelevant. Doesn't even belong in the conversation. End of story. To excuse the Patriots for this rules violation on the basis that there are other "sinners" out there is what I like to call a "deflective argument." It's the "Hey, look over there" defense. And it pisses me off.

Now, I'm an admitted Colts fan, and I think it's fantastic that the Patriots are all in trouble now. Loving it. But that's not the basis for this argument.

The "deflective argument" annoys me on a level far deeper than my sports fan offends me as a logical and intelligent person.

We saw these deflective arguments in the recent past with the NFL, when Janet Jackson's boob made an unannounced appearance on the Super Bowl, and then again when T.O. and the desperate housewife did a risque sketch on Monday Night Football. The argument went something like this: "Kids can see far worse sexuality on prime time or just by watching the NFL cheerleaders." I ranted about these at the time.

Again...not the point. It's an argument made to cause you to be distracted. It's off-topic.

It is identical to telling the officer who is writing you a speeding citation that "it's not fair...lots of other cars were speeding too." Or telling the judge at your rape sentencing that "people get away with rape every day, why should I be punished."

Tim Couch apparently used HGH to rehab so he could get back into the NFL, and Rodney Harrison is currently serving a 4-game suspension for HGH (he's also a Patriot, by the way). Both players have been defended frequently by analysts saying "It's not right, what he did, but it's totally understandable. It's his passion for the game and his desire to get back on the field, and I can respect that."

What?! So if a guy's intentions are good, his actions are forgiveable? That's a load of crap. Just another deflective argument.

A rule is a rule, even if it is a stupid rule. Simple as that. The Patriots are now being accused of doing this for years. The Eagles are saying they might have lost the Super Bowl to stuff like this, with their defensive coordinator saying that every time they threw in a crazy blitz...Brady miraculously knew to throw a quick out immediately.

Do I think there's merit to this? Hell yes I do. The Pats have crowed for years about their ability to stymie Peyton and the Colts and get inside their head. Maybe they were just getting inside the play signals. Maybe they seemed to be so amazing at making adjustments because they had an inside track.

And the last thing I want to hear in defense of the Patriots is "other teams do it too." Show me proof and we'll rip them too. Until then, the Patriots are who we're talking about. I don't want to hear "They're still a great team, this couldn't have provided much of an edge." I don't care if it provided no edge's still cheating, and cheaters suck. There's a reason they were doing it, folks. They're not filming opposing coaches' signals just for giggles. Even if the benefit was 1%, they knew the rule and blatantly ignored it in the hopes for personal gain.

What sucks the most is that deflective arguments are used everyday in political debate on war, global warming, and every other topic. Politicians have, in fact, perfected it. It's not a new tactic. Just one that I'm fed up with. Too bad the general public falls for it every time, because it'll never stop.



At 9/14/2007 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Doc said...

Tim Couch used HGH? Not really a stellar argument for the substance to be called "performance enhancing".

The Patriots are the Yankees of the NFL, except even worse, because they pretend not to be.

At 9/14/2007 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Well, to be fair, Tim Couch "allegedly" used HGH to rehab only recently. He hasn't gotten back into the league since the HGH (and now probably never will). So, while you're right to go there--mocking his lack of performance ability--this is not something he did back in the day.

At 9/14/2007 10:48:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

For me the NFL gets closer and closer to the WWE every day... but not as close as the NBA, of course. And I find my emotional attachment to the league falling because of it.

At 9/16/2007 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I have always hated the deflective argument and I call people out when they try to use them. It's a defensive tactic that some people don't even realize they're doing, a nervous tic even, the "Look at me? Look at them!" maneuver. You got caught and now it's time to blame others. And it works much too often. You're right on with the politician thing, and it's why no one ever looks like a good candidate. Too busy saying, "The other guy can't do the job," in lieu of "I can do the job."

At 9/20/2007 07:21:00 PM, Anonymous John B said...

I like deflective arguments that take place on a bigger scale. For instance:
Reporter: Why haven't the levees been repaired? You've known for years that they needed work. Why didn't you put in the effort and protect your city better?

N.O. Mayor: Ummmmm. Bush should be here in person with FEMA. This is his fault we're under water! He hates black people!!

Reporter: You're right, Bush is to blame. He should have fixed the levees years ago!!!!

America: rabble, rabble, rabble...

I've even seen a bumper sticker that says, "Bush: Katrina is your legacy." WHAT????? With all the war, lies, and other stuff, you will remember him for something he didn't cause or have a hand in?

Guess it works outside sports too.


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