In 1998, Simon & Schuster released author William Bennett’s The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals. The book’s premise, in my estimation, was sound: society had become complacent and lost its sense of indignation.
Twenty years later, I believe, the pendulum has swung much too far in the other direction. Now, with every moment’s tick, the outrage machine roars out of control. Every action stimulates a reaction red-pegging the meter at 11, regardless of the scenario.
Case in point:
In Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Scott Garieri thought he had a great idea: as promotion for his jewelry store, he’d create a billboard referencing the NFL kneeling controversy.
The completed ad shows a man in a suit taking a knee in front of his surprised true love, offering up a ring. The couple is positioned near the 50-yard line, with a caption reading, “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!”
Seems innocuous enough.
But apparently, it wasn’t.
Garieri and his daughter, Alexandria O’Brien, have been attacked on social media over the sign. In fact, one message to O’Brien — who serves as manager of the store — suggested she commit suicide.
I love this billboard. LOVE this billboard. Is this billboard racist? https://t.co/oK7kwFfEhM
— VBTheWise (@VBTheWise) September 6, 2018
Admirably, Alexandria is standing her ground:
“People have said they’re going to urinate on our property, vomit on our showcases, and I was told to kill myself. I am not going to kill myself. I can assure you that. And the billboard is not coming down. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But when you tell someone to go kill themself, you have absolutely crossed the line.”
The dust-up began after Rev. Laura Everett posted a photo of the billboard on her Facebook page, with a rather negative comment:
“In case we’ve forgotten about racism in New England… It’s stunning to flip the NFL BLM protests, and turn it into a racist marketing opportunity.”
However, like a diamond, Mr. Garieri won’t shatter:
“I stand behind it 100 percent. It was not ever made to make any racist connotation to it. We took a play of words and put a little spin on it.”
The store owner is none to shy about his opinion of the NFL hubbub:
“What they’re doing is disrespecting the national anthem. We have veterans that have fought hard and gave their lives so these people have the right to cry about my billboard. When you disrespect the national anthem, you disrespect the country, and I take offense with that. There are other ways to fight racial inequalities. To me, that’s not the way to do it.”
As for Nike’s use of Colin Kaepernick for its 30-year anniversary campaign, Garieri believes the endorsement is “disgusting.”
Do you think we need more people like the Garieris, who stand their ground? What are your thoughts on the history of outrage in America? Please sound off in the Comments section below.
For something totally different, please check out my write-ups of peeing in Paris, Serena’s Black Panther suit, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shutting down her employer.
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