Today’s paragraphs come to us from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Dan Schnur’s latest commentary.
They involve the fact that UCLA’s basketball team is going to play an NCAA tournament game in Tennessee – a state where it is illegal for the team to play.
Why is it illegal? Because last year, California enacted legislation prohibiting state funds being used for travel to states which discriminate against gay and transgender people. And Tennessee is considered by California to be one such state.
With that in mind, here are Mr. Schnur’s key paragraphs (the bold print is mine):
Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting for a moment that the UCLA team should have been prohibited from playing. These young men have worked too hard and overcome too many challenges to be denied the opportunity to measure their skills against the next level of competition. They didn’t pass the Tennessee bill, and there’s no evidence to suggest that any UCLA player or coach supports it. While sports shouldn’t — and can’t — take place in a cultural and societal vacuum, it’s difficult to argue that the cause of transgender rights would be advanced by forcing these young men to forfeit their place in the tournament.
But when California legislators voted to boycott states that enact discriminatory policies, they didn’t undermine their outrage by carving out exceptions for young, tall people. The legislators achieved significant public and media attention — and reaped significant political benefit — by enacting the ban, and although they quietly allowed exceptions for state tax officials and certain public safety needs, they otherwise made a strong symbolic statement to register their disapproval of the actions taken by those other states.
It’s easy to take a principled position when there’s no tangible downside. Telling anonymous state bureaucrats that they can’t attend a conference in another state is fairly painless. Upholding those same principles at the height of one of the nation’s most popular and widely watched sporting events is much more difficult.
The message of a hunger strike, in other words, is undermined if you eat as soon as you get hungry.
Well said, Mr. Schnur. You’ve explained the problem with “principled stands” such as these beautifully: i.e. they are easy to take when there is no cost; not so easy when the cost is high. That is why you win today’s Paragraphs Of The Day honors.
Now, tell us, Mr. Schnur: when will you be writing a sister commentary about how easy it is for Israel haters to demand BDS (boycotting/divesting/sanctioning) the Jewish state…when they somehow conveniently forget to boycott the technological, medical, scientific and agricultural advances that continually emanate from there. Here’s a partial list for you.
That would make a great piece, Mr. Schnur. Maybe not a well-received one in San Francisco – a BDS hotbet – but a great piece nonetheless.
When can we expect it? And, when you write it, please remember to call a few of the BDS people and give them a heads-up.
But don’t call their cell phones. That technology came out of Israel, so they, of course, would never use them.