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Oklahoma Stands Tall Against Racism, Weak Against Violence

Oklahoma Sooners Football Protest racist frat video

Twitter.com/OU_Football

Let’s start with this — I have no sympathy for racist Oklahoma fraternity members whose racist fraternity taunt went viral resulting in their fraternity being shut down, their being kicked off campus, and their likely expulsion from school. I have zero sympathy for them and chances are you don’t either. The video was shocking to me because I’ve never heard anyone my age or younger say anything like this, much less scream a racist chant in unison that everyone knows. (Despite what SAE may claim, Outkick has been inundated by emails saying the chant is well known among SAE fraternity members, particularly those from Southern schools. I’m blown away by that).

Here’s the video again, just so you can watch it. 

Certainly Oklahoma president David Boren doesn’t have any sympathy for these fraternity members. He basically pronounced them dead to rights in his statements yesterday which we linked at Outkick.

Boren said the following: “It was unbelievable that this could have possibly occurred with UO students. Sooners are not racists. They’re not bigots. They are people who respect each other and care about each other.”

He demanded zero tolerance for racist statements on campus and expelled two students. 

Just about every single person applauded his comments and actions, they were strident, powerful, and accurately reflected his distaste for the student’s opinions. The Oklahoma football team staged a protest that was well covered and adorned with praise. This was a positive sports story, Sooner athletes sending the right message about how they wouldn’t tolerate racist comments on a college campus, a place that theoretically exists to expand knowledge and eliminate closeted thinking.

Only here’s my problem with the Oklahoma football team’s stand.

Less than a month ago they allowed Joe Mixon, a talented running back videotaped punching a female student in an off-campus bar, back onto the football team after a year long suspension just from the football team. Yep, Mixon punched a female student and was never even kicked off campus. The punch was so violent that his female victim, a Sooner student, suffered a fractured jaw, a broken cheek bone, a broken nose and a fractured orbital bone near her left eye. Oh, and Mixon also began the incident, according to the complaint, by directing a gay slur at the woman’s male companion at the bar. 

What did President David Boren say in that case?

“The judicial outcome and the video speak for themselves,” Oklahoma President David L. Boren said. “The University is an educational institution, which always sets high standards that we hope will be upheld by our students. We hope that our students will all learn from those standards, but at the same time, we believe in second chances so that our students can learn and grow from life’s experiences.”

Boren said Mixon will be given a chance to “earn his way back on the team.”

Oh, so the star running back gets a second chance for breaking four bones on a female student’s face on video, but the guys in a frat don’t get a second chance for saying something racist on a video?

Gotcha. 

That wasn’t all. Mixon’s running backs coach had this to say on his reinstatement:

“He made a split-second and wrong decision, and he knows that,” running backs Coach Cale Gundy said. “He is a super, super kid. And I use the term ‘kid’ because he still is like a kid. He’s still very young.” 

As if that wasn’t enough, this past off season Oklahoma admitted Dorial Green-Beckham, a talented wide receiver from Missouri who may well be drafted in the first round, despite Mizzou kicking him off the team for allegations that he pushed a woman down the stairs and violently threatened another woman. DGB was admitted to campus as a student after this incident. What’s more, Oklahoma was furious with the NCAA for not granting his waiver and allowing him to play football this year. 

So here we have two acts of physical violence — one against a fellow OU student — that didn’t cause expulsion from campus — indeed, DGB was actually admitted after his alleged act of violence against another student — and I haven’t heard Oklahoma president David Boren explain why these situations are different. If Sooners are people “who respect each other and care about each other,” wouldn’t punching a female Sooner be worse than saying something bad about a group of them?

This brings me back to a message I keep returning to on Outkick — why do we punish words more than actions in today’s society? Why is Oklahoma’s president willing to give a second chance to a talented football player who punched a fellow student on video, but immediately condemns students that say horrible things on video? Is the media to blame? In today’s society is punishment directly tied to how much attention something receives? I’d hate to believe that. Because in the grand scheme of things aren’t acts always worse than words? Otherwise we need to change our criminal justice system and give people life in prison for unpopular opinions.

Punishing people for unpopular opinions is infinitely scarier to me than any unpopular opinion anyone could ever have.  

Oklahoma University didn’t make these frat guys racist. They were racist when they got to Oklahoma. I would have liked to have heard David Boren address that, no matter who you are a university can’t erase the first 18 years of your life. That’s why second chances for young people matter.

One of the guiding principles of higher education today — indeed, the very reason it exists according to some — is the idea that if we expose students to people of different walks of life they will learn, if nothing else, that blanket racism or religious fanaticism or any other -ism is intellectually lazy and ignorant. People are more than what they look like on the outside or who they worship or where they were raised. That’s the very essence of higher education, exposure to people who aren’t like you, opening up the world to students who probably haven’t experienced very much in their lives to that point, making possible the impossible.

What’s sad about this Oklahoma fraternity’s chant isn’t just the racism, it’s that you would go to a college and only want to hang out with people who are exactly like you, people who would feel comfortable screaming a racist chant on a bus headed to a date party. Yet this is still very common. These same frat guys will go to a job where people are exactly like them, and worship in a church where everyone worships like them, and live in a suburb where people are exactly like them, and live in a community where everyone else has the exact same opinions as them. And then they’ll become strident in their opinions about politics and wonder how anyone could ever feel differently than they do. That’s how thought like this happens, from a lack of exposure to the real world, from a cloistering of opinion. College is probably the only time in their lives where they will ever be exposed to anyone different than they are. 

In America today, the only time the right and left come together to agree on anything is sports. That’s why sports are so important, they’re the last thing that bind us regardless of our backgrounds.     

None of us are immune from making poor decisions in college, but isn’t it awfully interesting how quick we are to give second and third chances to people whose talents are readily apparent and benefit us or make us feel better about ourselves? Sports fans are amoral, so long as the team wins, most don’t give a damn what happens off the field. If Joe Mixon and DGB weren’t good at football, where would they be right now? Maybe in jail? As a society how quick are we to judge people that don’t benefit us based on one action? The sad truth is the only time most of us believe in the redemption of someone who has done something wrong is if they’re really good at something that benefits us. Movie stars, entertainers, athletes, so long as your talent exceeds your problems we’ll give you one chance after another to screw up. Just keep entertaining us and we’ll forget all about what you did off the field or stage or screen.

Hell, we may even put up a statue to you.

Don’t believe me, just ask Disney employee Ray Lewis.  

But what about the rest of us without readily apparent talents? The vast mass of us who aren’t great at football or acting or singing. Are the rest of us not deserving of second chances too? 

Maybe you think the frat guys should be expelled and never heard from again — that’s a valid opinion. Maybe you think there’s a difference between assaulting a woman and assaulting an entire ethnic group with words. Again, that’s a valid opinion. I happen to think actions are worse than words, but you can disagree with me about that. But chances are, you haven’t thought about these two situations with such different responses on the same campus much at all. Now at least you have. 

To hell with fifteen minutes of fame, in today’s society everybody gets fifteen seconds of fame. 

Only those fifteen seconds define you forever, because they never stop replaying over and over again. A Google search never dies. 

I’d like to believe Sooners believe in educating dumb kids and second chances for all. But I’m afraid that Sooners, like the rest of us, only believe in second chances when that second chance benefits them.

If so, our message is pretty clear — pick up a football kid, it’s the only chance you’ve got.    

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.

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