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Anonymous Mailbag

It’s a Wednesday anonymous mailbag — instead of the usual Tuesday — because I waited to write until my family was back from hanging out in Orlando.

Yesterday was a perfect day for us at Universal Studios. The boys absolutely loved Harry Potter World, and I think you have to give a ton of credit to Florida governor Ron DeSantis for keeping the amusement parks open in his state. Unlike Disneyland and Universal Studios in California, which are going to be closed for over a year because of the disastrous leadership of Gavin Newsom, everyone has stayed employed in the Florida amusement park industry, and there has yet to be a single case of COVID being spread through the amusement parks.

Not one!

Talk about safety. That’s phenomenal work.

So if you’re young and healthy and your family is too, I’d encourage you to hit up the theme parks and have a good vacation.

As we come up on a new year, I want everyone in Virginia and Michigan to know that if you go sign up right now for sports gambling, you will be able to gamble the first day things officially go live in your state, and — and this is a big deal — you get up to a $1000 to bet with zero risk. That is, if you lose your bet, you’ll get it refunded. So go sign up in Virginia and Michigan right now. And if you’re in Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, West Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania or New Jersey — or you will be there for the holidays — then go get your bets in there too.

As always you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Okay, here we go with the anonymous mailbag:

“A few years ago I had the misfortune of having a classmate who felt that the best way to deal with a personal problem she had with me was to make false Me Too allegations against me. I could prove it was a lie both through alibi witnesses and phone records, but unfortunately I went to a SUNY school, so not only were they not particularly interested in those facts, but New York law made adversarial actions for me and my lawyer exceedingly difficult (and ultimately, a case in throwing good money after bad).

Fast forward to now, and I’ll say that given the circumstances, I got the best possible result that I could out of the situation. The school was forced to give me my diploma, and I faced no negative repercussions in any other facet (criminal record, forced repayment of scholarship, etc). I will never be OK with what was done to me but for the most part, I’m OK with the way my life is now.

I do, however, live in constant fear that it’s all going to come crashing down somehow. For obvious reasons, what happened to me is not something I share with many people (there are close family members who don’t even know), and I’m afraid that someday what was alleged will somehow come out into my current circles (work, neighbors, etc). I would not say people have gotten better about not rushing to judgement with these kind of allegations over the past few years.

Am I being overly paranoid, or am I justified here? Besides keeping a low profile and trying to be as Google proof as possible, is there anything else I should be doing?”

First, your fear of cancel culture chasing you down is entirely legitimate, and I don’t blame you for wanting to keep a low profile online.

Second, as you discovered, it’s nearly impossible to prove a negative.

That’s why I found the entire #metoo #believeallwomen narrative to be so profoundly ridiculous and scary for our country. The idea that you should believe anyone based on their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or any other identifying characteristic is fundamentally antithetical to the progress of hundreds of years of judicial precedent. Believing someone because they’re a woman is no different than believing someone because they’re white. It’s a complete failure of the judicial process. #Believeallwomen is no different than what was argued in the segregated South. It’s a modern day version of #Believeallwhitepeople.

The fact that so many people were either unwilling or unable to see this was, and is, terrifying. The Brett Kavanaugh judiciary hearings, I believe, are the worst thing that has happened in the Senate in my life.

Our American criminal justice system isn’t perfect, but it is the best that’s ever existed in the history of the world.

So why would we just throw away the presumption of innocence in the midst of a social media mob-led hysteria.

It was — and still is — absolute madness.

It appears, however, that #metoo is effectively over now because Democratic politicians like Joe Biden were accused of sexual assault by credible women, and as soon as that happened, then #believeallwomen vanished.

Overnight, just poof, it was gone.

Amazing to see.

So while I understand your fear, I think, at least for now, the #metoo tidal wave has passed. That doesn’t mean it might not cycle back up again — remember all the people angry about domestic violence in the NFL? That story has pretty much vanished now too. Antonio Brown is playing football with credible allegations of rape out there about him, and no one cares. How about #defundthepolice and #blacklivesmatter? Now that the election is over, they’ve disappeared for four years too.

All of this is just so transparently false and inauthentic.

But what you’re talking about is really rooted in fear of cancel culture. How many people out there today have done something in their past — or even been accused of something in their past — that they are afraid might reemerge at any point in time?

I’d say nearly 100%.

That’s why the fear of cancel culture is incredibly pervasive in this country right now. Because everyone has something they hope never goes public. So much so that almost everyone reading this question right now knows exactly how you feel. So why does cancel culture work? Because most people are cowards. They hope if they let someone else be tarred and feathered online that it won’t happen to them.

Which is why I think the people leading the charge the most for cancel culture are generally the people with the biggest skeletons in their closets.

But back to you: keeping a low profile is certainly a good move on your part in the short term — why give anyone a reason not to employ you based on an untrue allegation that might become one of the top Google search results for your name? — but the larger issue is this woman holds a power over you because she can decide to come forward and air her allegations in public at any point in time. And, as I started off this piece saying, it’s virtually impossible for you to prove a negative. Even worse than that, some people won’t believe you because you’re a man, and they still buy into the imbecilic and child-like notion that all women are telling the truth all the time.

Plus, as I said above, it’s virtually impossible to 100% prove that you didn’t do something, particularly when most sexual acts involve no witnesses. They’re almost all he said/she said stories. That’s why our entire criminal justice system is premised on the opposite of trying to prove a negative. The state has to prove that you DID do something. You don’t have to prove that you DIDN’T do something. The burden is on the accuser, not the accused.

What the #metoo hysteria did was flip the presumption of innocence equation. If you presume the accuser is telling the truth and the accused has to prove that he’s innocent, it upsets the entire fabric of the criminal justice system. Put simply, it doesn’t work at all.

I don’t have any great guarantee for you — after all, who can guarantee anything in this crazy social media universe we live in? — but I would tell you that living your life in fear isn’t a healthy way to live. So I don’t think you should shrink from life.

But I do think you have to be even more cognizant of putting yourself into positions where another accusation could happen against you. If you’ve been wronged once before, it sucks, but I’d be even more careful about the women I dated and interacted with in the future. And I think you should take a very long time to trust them too.

And in the meantime, I think you have to live your life as close to beyond reproach as possible. So that if this allegation does eventually re-emerge in the next ten or twenty or thirty years of your life, you have a track record of behavior that serves to further buttress your claim that her allegations simply weren’t true.

Good luck.

“Clay, please help. My wife and I have been married for just over thirteen years. We have a nine-year-old daughter. Life is good. Recently we purchased a house on eight acres of land. All of a sudden, in a complete surprise to me, my father-in-law tells me that my wife has told he and my mother-in-law that they can build a house out there on our land.

Mind blown.

I talk to my wife about this and she says that she mentioned it to me but then I laughed it off like she was joking. We then had the heart to heart that we should’ve had before she spoke for me in this. I thought we had worked it out and I thought I’d be OK with it as long as I still only see trees when I look out my door. The problem is, the more and more I think about it, I think I was just looking to avoid confrontation. I don’t see any way out of this without me being the asshole. I just don’t want them there right on top of me. How do I get out of this without being a jerk?”

Well, you’re in a tough spot here.

And honestly I think it comes down to what you and your wife talked about when you “laughed it off like she was joking.”

Because she thought you had agreed to the idea that her parents could live on the land, and you obviously did not believe you’d agreed to that. So what actually occurred in that conversation? (If you’re anything like most married men, you don’t really recall for sure, but your wife will insist that she remembers everything said in this conversation perfectly. Honestly, women have an uncanny ability for perfect recall when it comes to any conversation that has ever occurred inside a marriage. Has any wife ever agreed to her husband’s version of a conversation recollection in the history of marriage? I don’t think it’s ever happened. So I doubt you’re winning this battle. It’s times like these where I wish I had a court reporter transcript of our calls so I could win a battle like this with my wife.)

Having said all of this, eight acres is a LOT of land.

Is there really nowhere on that plot of land where your in-laws could build a place to live without destroying your sense of freedom? If the answer is no, then I think you just have to suck it up and tell them directly that the reason you bought the eight acres was to create a sense of peace and freedom and that you don’t want them — or anyone else — building there.

Yes, that would probably make the you the asshole, especially if everyone else in the family is in favor of them building on the land. (Including, I’d bet, your nine-year-old daughter.) You can’t go back in time and remove the conversation your wife had with her parents saying it was okay for them to build there.

That already happened.

So you can either put your foot down and insist it isn’t going to happen, or you can deal with the fact that your in-laws are going to be building a place on your land.

I don’t see any other options for you.

If you shoot down their house, then you’re the jerk. But if you don’t shoot down their house, then you resent the fact that the house is there for as long as you live on this property.

Sure, you could have your wife go back to her parents and take away the offer, but then your wife is going to be furious with you too.

You don’t have any good options here. It’s just about picking the one that works the best for your family now.

Good luck.

“I need help talking to my wife about money. We’re both in our mid-20s and have an 8 month old. She works in the medical field and I’m an accountant. We make a good wage for where we live; but we have quite a bit of debt that I’m really trying to get paid down. I laid out a budget a few months ago that would require us to make some sacrifices now for more financial freedom in the future. I still gave our budget some wiggle room for fun things like going out to eat, dates, baby stuff, shopping, etc. (COVID has helped a little). I knew if I made it too extreme, she wouldn’t go for it. The problem is, she’s still blowing our expenses out of the water and we can’t make additional payments like we had agreed.

I’ll admit, being an accountant has made me super anal about finances but my wife doesn’t seem to care or understand how much easier and fun our life will be in the future without this debt. I don’t want to throw it back on her but she’s not sticking to her word. Am I being unreasonable?”

You aren’t being unreasonable in wanting to pay down your family debt, but your budget might be unreasonable.

At least that’s what your wife is telling you, based on her actions.

You laid out a budget for the family, and she has no interest in following it. Well, why is that? Did she initially agree to do it and then change her mind? Is she just bad with money and isn’t aware of how much she’s blowing through the budget?

Have you asked her these questions?

Here’s what I’d bet the answer is: she gets more joy out of spending money than she does saving money and being debt free. You, on the other hand, are different.

My grandmother and grandfather both worked in Chattanooga back in the 1950s. That was relatively rare in the South at the time. My grandfather worked in a factory, and my grandmother was an elementary school teacher. When she was asked why she worked, she said my grandfather worked to pay for their living and she worked to make their life worth living.

So is it possible your wife thinks you’re pulling the joy out of living, and she’s rebelling against your budget for that reason?

Either way, the three things married people fight about the most are: finances, children and sex.

The two of you seem to have fundamentally different financial perspectives. So you have to fix that because otherwise, one or the other of you is always going to be angry about money issues. The system you put in place right now isn’t working. Her spending is why. But why is she spending the way she is? You have to figure that out before you can fix the issue.

Good luck.

“Should there be any concern about long term effects of this vaccine being rushed? I have a lot of friends who are like ‘hell no I’m not taking it’ but they aren’t your traditional anti-vaxxers, just people who don’t think COVID is as big a deal as it has been made to seem. I’ve been skeptical over this whole thing, but I also realize I know nothing about medical procedures of vaccine development, so even if it has been rushed, I feel like there is a better chance of it just not being successful than it causing long term damage. What is your level of concern about unknown effects of a ‘rushed’ vaccine?”

I’m not afraid of the vaccine, but I’m also not afraid of COVID. Let me explain what I mean by this.

There’s nothing in my or my family’s life that I’m doing right now — other than wearing a mask into public venues — that really makes my life feel much different than it has any other year.

I just got back from spending five days at Orlando amusement parks with my family. I’ve been to half a dozen college and pro football games in person. We’ve flown several times and stayed in hotels. My kids are all in school in person. We had our annual Halloween party at the house. Our kids went trick or treating. Our family Thanksgiving down at the beach was the exact same as normal. Our lives just really aren’t that different than they ordinarily would be.

A vaccine existing isn’t going to suddenly change the way my family is living.

I understand some people are cowered in fear, wearing masks sitting alone in their basements, terrified of doing anything. But in my part of Tennessee, everything is pretty much 100% normal, except for the mask situation.

And the masks don’t really bother me that much, to be honest.

In fact, if you told me, for instance, that if I wore a mask there would be no lines any more at anything I want to do, that’s probably a trade I’d make. Going to Titans games this fall has been a breeze. I can pull up to the stadium ten minutes before kickoff and park with zero traffic issues. There’s nobody blocking my kids’ views in the stadium. There is no line for the food or the bathroom. I can leave right when the game ends and hop right on the interstate without getting stuck in traffic. I mean, I think I’d sign up to wear a mask for next year if all this was guaranteed to be the same way again.

Why am I living this way? Because I look at the data. And the data is pretty clear that my immediate family — my wife and three kids and me — are in less danger of COVID than we are of the seasonal flu. And other than getting flu shots, which we typically do, we don’t change our behavior at all for the seasonal flu. So why would we change our behavior for COVID?

Now we certainly aren’t pressuring my parents or my wife’s parents to come visit us for the holidays or insisting that we should barge in on them if they are nervous about COVID. But so far, they’ve mostly made the decision to live their lives as normal as they can. That’s their right too.

I think that’s what everyone should be doing — look at the data and make your own risk assessment. Why should your fears dictate my freedoms?

As for the vaccine in particular, it seems pretty clear to me. If you’re over 70 years old — or have major health issues — you are at substantial risk of contracting COVID and having a negative impact. So you should be at the front of the line for the vaccine.

But if we vaccinated all these people, there would be no issues with COVID going forward because young people have less danger from COVID than they do the seasonal flu. So I don’t understand the rush to vaccinate any young people at all. (I’m defining young broadly here, as being anyone under 50 years old and healthy.) For instance, AOC got the COVID vaccine. Why? She’s in more danger of dying driving around Washington, D.C. than she is of COVID. If I were in Congress, I’d decline the COVID vaccine, not because I’m terrified of it or an anti-vaxxer, far from it, but just because there are people more at risk than me who need it more.

Now I’ve written and said this before, but if they came to me and said, “Clay, your radio show is popular, and we’d like for you to get the COVID vaccine live on the radio and talk to your audience about the importance of people getting it who are at risk,” I’d take the vaccine live on the radio and talk about it.

We used to do live flu shots on the radio when I was doing local radio.

But I’m not going to actively seek out the vaccine.

Especially not while there’s a ton more people who need it way more than I do.

So I’m in a relatively rare group where I’m not afraid of COVID, and I’m not afraid of the vaccine either.

Which essentially ties in with my larger life perspective: live your life without fear.

We’re all going to die, and I think Shakespeare got it right hundreds of years ago in Julius Caesar: “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.”

Happy holidays to all of you, and thanks for supporting OutKick!

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

22 Comments

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  1. Re: the vaccines, I think there’s a healthy amount of skepticism in a government agency that back in the day swore up and down that prescription opioids were not addictive. That being said, I also think it’s unfair to characterize these vaccines as ‘rushed’. In all of the cases that I know of, the vaccines are simply derivatives of other vaccines that have been around (in some cases) for decades without major side effects. Covid came through my household and wasn’t a major deal, so no one in my family is rushing to get the vaccine, mainly to allow people who are at risk to get it first. That being said, at some point I will probably get the vaccine, mainly because I think certain things will be made difficult to do if you haven’t been vaccinated. While various pharmaceutical companies may be immune from litigation because of protections that have been put in place, they also have their own reputations to uphold, and so in general I don’t believe they would put a product out in the marketplace that is highly defective.

  2. Let’s not give Disney too much credit. I am happy they are open in FL, but they laid off plenty of FL workers, many of their employees are still furloughed or were laid off, in the tens of thousands, but they managed to pony up $300M/yr for SEC and have 20 streaming projects in the works.

    They took full advantage of the ‘crisis’ to not pay their workers and unload a bunch of them so they could reset salaries/benefits/tenure etc.

    They are open because of DeSantis, not because Disney is so great.

    • Agreed. Disney only cares about their execs and stockholders making money, which is fine but don’t try to make them out as benevolent in their actions. DeSantis keeping Florida open is why Disneyworld is open for business. Just wait next year when folks are coming out of Covid, Disney will raise prices again.

  3. I’m on the same page as far as not being afraid of either china virus or the vaccine. My wife is a crna and has done a lot of research and has already gotten her first dose. She framed it in such a way that after I get it in January I can do whatever the heck I want. Sounded like a good deal to me. The good thing is, it’s not mandatory (for now anyway…) so everyone can make their own decision.

    • Unfortunately,

      You will NOT be “doing whatever the heck you want” after getting the vaccination. You will still be locked in your house, forced to wear a mask that does little or nothing to prevent spread of the virus, your travel, leisure, and your ability to make a living will still be restricted.

      There are no plans by any governments, local or state or federal, to allow anyone any increased freedoms (i.e., to restore Constitutional freedoms you ALREADY HAD but were removed by power-mad politicians with Covid as an excuse) just because a person has gotten a vaccination.

      This (a “golden ticket” or card verifying vaccination) might actually be a good thing, to allow people an incentive to be vaccinated, but the politicians are banking on pure fear now to force 100-250 million vaccinations. These people in power now aren’t going to create a whole new class of regulations and restrictions based on who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t. They’re too lazy and also afraid of backlash [e.g. what if not enough black people have gotten a vaccine?].

      I’m a physician and I have treated Covid patients literally on the front lines since before we even knew
      Coronavirus was a clinical entity. I’m pretty sure I have already had the virus. I would otherwise get a Covid vaccine but I’m not going to get a vaccination for something that I already have immunity for – but my hospital can’t or won’t perform the same antibody testing to demonstrate prior infection with Covid that EVERY SINGLE PATIENT enrolled in the vaccine clinical trial received to allow them to participate. [NEJM Dec 10, 2020, “Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine”]

  4. Re: SUNY guy. That stinks. I think a lot of the reason college-aged girls/women cannot find guys is because of this stuff.
    Re: COVID vaccine. TBH I’d rather not have it any time soon. My son (in the AF) just got it this week, but I’d rather see about 100 million people get it with no problems before I do. Heck just got my flu shot today as well!
    I have been going to the gym 3x/week for a LONG time. We had a local gym that opened up very early in COVID and gave the finger to the governor. So, been doing that, going to work, and we go out to eat like always – no COVID (knock on wood).
    RE: in your 20s with money arguments…man I don’t wish that on anyone. I am so lucky my wife is very reasonable at spending and I’ve made good money. We have no debt – none, and argue more about how to raise the dog than money or how to raise the kids! Somehow you guys need to find a middle ground quickly.

  5. Dave Ramsey says everyday the biggest thing that leads to most divorces is arguing over money. Not that you don’t make enough of it, but it’s how you spend it. That’s why couples should be on the same page with finances BEFORE you get married.

    • To the 20’s couple Dave Ramsey is a great resource. You might want to check out his book The Total Money Makeover or his course Financial Peace University. He would say you are the saver and your wife the spender which is fairly typical in marriages and nothing wrong with either. Maybe your wife needs more incentive like a trip to Hawaii when the debt is paid off. “Live like no one else so later you can live and give like no one else”.

  6. Mask is no big deal really? That’s how we’re supposed to live Clay? The flu kills. We should always have a mask then. Masks have done nothing to prevent contagion. No difference between states and counties. Masks are a metaphor for the end of individualism and freedom of speech. WTF Clay

    • The masks are a HUGE issue! They’re more than a metaphor, they are a proving ground:

      “Just wear a mask, what’s the big deal.” “Just set your thermostat down 2 degrees, what’s the big deal.” “Just don’t say anything offensive.” “Just drive this other vehicle.” “Just work here.”

      Totalitarianism always starts small, and when the people get used to more control, they go a little further. It’ll never stop.

  7. re: Guy whose in-laws want to build on your property: Buy them 5 acres 5 miles from your house, 8 acres will seem really small with in-laws in spitting distance, and 5 miles away is still too close. I love my in-laws as I love my parents but people need space. The legal and logistical issues of mom and dad nearby ramp up when you and wife have issues…I could go on. Buy them a patch of ground nearby, just not attached to yours.

  8. Re: eight shrinking acres. This is the kind of choice that comes up a lot in marriage, and I frame these as choices between guilt and resentment. In my marriage my husband initially wanted me to live where his job and family were. I was graduating from grad school at the time and could essentially pick my location. His location wasn’t a bad option for me career wise but it wasn’t my first choice either. He would’ve moved for me – we discussed it. But that would come with a lot of guilt, and every time some little thing went wrong with the location – weather, taxes, whatever – he could hassle me for making us live there. Alternatively if I lived in his location I would bear some resentment for those issues. So, in choosing between guilt and resentment d go with resentment bc you can control it, get over it, reconcile with it, leverage it 🙂 The guilt is out of your control. So unless the resentment would be impossible and irreconcilable- which it honestly might be in this extreme case – I’d give in to your wife and daughters ask.

  9. Clay, I love the general attitude at Outkick and most of the articles. This mailbag is getting ridiculous though. You are a lawyer by education (which as you know from your short time practicing law is part psychologist and part lawyering, hence the term “counselor”) and now a sports personality/journalist. So I wish you would stop the Dear Annie bit because I don’t think your experience gives you the ability to advise some of these folks. Not sure why any of these folks writing in would even want your advice on these topics. Just my 2 cents.

  10. I liked these questions and answers! Nicely done. Maybe if the OutKick thing doesn’t work out you can start a competition to Ann Landers in what is left of the dying newspaper industry

  11. To the guy whose wife told her parents they could build on his land–this may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Now you have NO “visit the in-laws” situations. You wife gets to see them any time she wishes and you do not have to. Seems like the opposite should be true but what I am saying is fact (at least for me). Now you can visit if/when you choose, go home when you wish and your wife can go (read “walk across the yard) without you. All family get togethers can be arranged at their house. You always get to sleep in your own bed and again, come and go as you please. I suggest an, “I am giving them the land so they have to host all meals and get-togethers” conversation with your wife then relax, sit back, and kiss your previous stressful visit-the-in laws life behind.

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