IDENTITY RULES: You don't care (enough) about Brittney Griner!


Roxane Gay knows why: Brittney Griner is a major star in the WNBA.

Or possibly, and horribly, she used to be such a star. On this very day, Griner is being held in a Russian prison—and she may be facing years in a Russian penal colony, unless some way can be found to free her from her plight.

Griner is facing a truly terrible plight. For the record, her plight has received a large amount of press attention, in both the political and the sports press. 

Just yesterday, to cite one example, we happened to see the last few minutes of Jalen & Jacoby, a daily half-hour discussion show on ESPN. At the end of the show, Jalen Rose asked viewers to remember Griner's plight.

He does this every day, Monday through Friday, as the program reaches its end.

ESPN is part of the world of sports, but Griner's plight has frequently been reported and mentioned in mainstream news sites too. This morning, though, her deeply unfortunate plight isn't on the front page of the New York Times.

On the typical morning, Griner's plight hasn't been on the front page of such major newspapers. Let's try to think of some of the reasons why this might be so.

First, a bit of background:

Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport, a major airport serving Moscow, on February 17. She was arrested as she attempted to enter Russia to play in the Russian professional league.

An initial report about her arrest appeared on page A12 of the New York Times on March 5. To read that report, just click here.

Since that time, the Times has published dozens of news reports and / or opinion and analysis pieces about Griner's struggle within Mother Russia. In the month of July alone, you'll find links at this New York Times site to sixteen different articles about Griner. They feature such headlines as these:

July 2, 2022 
Brittney Griner’s Detention in Moscow Is Latest in Hostage Diplomacy
The United States believes the charges against the basketball star are spurious and tied to American support of Ukraine.
July 4, 2022
Brittney Griner to Biden: ‘I’m Terrified I Might Be Here Forever’

July 5, 2022
Brittney Griner’s wife says the White House is not doing enough to secure the basketball star’s release.

July 6, 2022
How Brittney Griner Became a Political Pawn
Growing public pressure to free the W.N.B.A. star, who has been detained in Russia for months, comes with risks.

July 6, 2022
Biden Speaks to Cherelle Griner About Her Wife’s Detention in Russia
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris told Cherelle Griner they would pursue “every avenue” to bring her wife, Brittney Griner, home from Russia.
July 7, 2022
Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russian Court
“There was no intent,” the American basketball star told a Russian judge, as any resolution of the highly politicized case appeared to shift toward the diplomatic arena.

Those are just the Times' submissions for the first week in July. On July 8, the Times' report about Griner's guilty plea appeared on the front page of the newspaper's print editions. 

That said, Griner isn't on the front page today. And we're not sure how many times her plight has been afforded such prominent placement.

Brittney Griner's ongoing plight is deeply unfortunate. That said, it's very, very, very hard to say that her plight has been ignored by the mainstream press. Her plight has been widely covered elsewhere, not just in the New York Times.

That didn't stop the New York Times from publishing Roxane Gay's recent guest essay about the shameful way Griner's plight is being ignored, almost surely by people like you. 

Sure enough! Because Gay is deeply devoted to our blue tribe's current Storyline / Novelization frameworks, she offered the following thoughts right at the start of her essay. The Times chose to give this material prominent display in its Sunday Opinion section:

Brittney Griner Is Trapped and Alone. Where’s Your Outrage?

When unspeakable tragedies occur, people often call for unity. They’ll say, “We are Boston Strong” or “Je suis Charlie” or “We are [insert wherever or whomever the unthinkable has happened to].” It’s a laudable instinct to claim solidarity with those who have suffered, to imagine we truly understand the ways we are all connected, to proclaim that what affects one of us affects all of us.

With the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four months because a small amount of hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage, I’m wondering why we haven’t seen more of a groundswell of demands for her release. In the attention economy, Ms. Griner’s predicament seems as if it’s being somewhat ignored.

The media is, at least, covering the story, and some rights groups and athletes have spoken up, but that isn’t enough. More public pressure for action is necessary. “We are B.G.” should be a viral rallying cry, but it isn’t—and why? Is it misogyny? Racism? Homophobia? The unholy trifecta?

Gay is willing to note the fact that the media is covering the story. Inevitably, though, she says that isn't enough.

Bowing to the Identity Gods—working from the Identity Rules—Gay quickly asserts that You The Amerikan People aren't rallying around Griner with sufficient zeal. And by her third paragraph, needless to say, Gay is telling you why:

It must be your racism that explains your lack of interest! Either that, or it's your misogyny—or it may be your homophobia. 

You get to choose from those three sins. But by the end of paragraph 3, Gay has bowed low to the gods.

Brittney Griner deserves to be free of the terrible situation into which she's been thrown. At the same time, our rapidly failing Amerikan nation deserves to be free of the deeply unintelligent work of hopeless tribal adepts like Gay, and of hapless newspapers like Times which wave such work into print.

In fairness, the Identity Gods roared with approval when they read that third paragraph. Working from the Identity Rules, Roxane Gay had reminded Us The People about how deplorable we are.

Elsewhere, red tribe voters were gaining their wings as Roxane Gay, a good decent person, continued the deeply unintelligent conduct which now defines our rapidly failing tribe.

What makes people behave in such ways? Tomorrow, some experts explain.

Tomorrow: Like Jesus, logicians wept

Friday: Wat sacred Nietzsche once said


  1. "Elsewhere, red tribe voters were gaining their wings as Roxane Gay, a good decent person, continued the deeply unintelligent conduct which now defines our rapidly failing tribe."

    There's no such thing as "red tribe", dear Bob.

    Speak for yourself, for your brain-dead liberal tribe. For your brain-dead liberal tribe with its brain-dead 'identity' fetish, smiley face of global finance and western imperialism.

    Leave normal ordinary people alone; they don't comprise any tribes.

    1. True. There is no red tribe. There is a brain-dead liberal tribe and normal
      people react to its excesses.

    2. You're normal Russky!

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  2. We have more pressing problems such as this:

  3. I don’t see anything wrong with Gay askng for more public support and asking what’s holding us back. Somerby thinks HE should determine how much support she deserves. And for Somerby, she’s had her share. Why does he begrudge her more support? Is it racism, homophobia, misogyny? Clearly it is something, given his return to the subject.

    1. Anonymouse 11:01am, not that you aren’t aware of this…, but Somerby is not saying that Griner has too much support or even enough attention or support currently.

      He’s saying there are other considerations than the “trifecta” as to why Griner’s plight isn’t a bigger public focus of concern and outrage.

      Frankly, it’s interesting to me that Gay is demanding more public pressure, rather than effective private political pressure.

      However, consider that political pressure could be going on behind the scenes and that the big media has sources saying this, so they aren’t getting in the way.

      Gay is journo. She’s suppose to be a bit circumspect, analytical, and cautious.

    2. Somerby is not discussing the politics of Griner’s detention. He is complaining because Gay briefly referenced bigotry as a reason why there isn’t more public support. Somerby uses every opportunity to protest anti-racism. He thinks people should be left to express their bigotry without being called out for it, like in the good old days before the civil rights movement. You don’t help him much with your own comments here.

    3. anti-anti-Racism?

    4. What's wrong with being gay?

    5. I don't know, what's the punchline? In the meantime...

      What do gay guys and bungee jumpers have in common?

      If the rubber breaks, they're both in deep shit.

    6. Anonymouse 12:02pm, I know Somerby is discussing Gay’s default to the trifecta accusation mode.

      I’m discussing why as a journo, Gay did not consider other pertinent reasons for why people aren’t taking it to the streets over Griner.

      The media isn’t ginning up public protests as they usually do in their following of the righteous guidelines of anti-racism assumptions…and organizational leaders have gotten their stand-down cues, as well, because of reasons having to do with the current politics between the U.S. and Russia.

    7. Her purpose is to generate support, not explain a social phenomena. Her comment may motivate liberals via guilt for not doing more to help. Somerby and Cecelia, being conservatives, are impervious.

    8. Anonymouse 8:00pm, Gay did the easiest and safest thing in the world to make herself look good.

      Gay paint-balled the country while letting her own vaunted guild off the hook by saying that they were “at least” reporting on the story.

      No, I don’t blink an eye over such appellations. They have no sting and in nearly all settings are just the stuff of the anonymouse hit-and-run flying monkey brigade here.

      That you’ve made such ills into partisan spitballs (like Repug or Lib-tard) launched by one-trick ponies is Somerby’s complaint.

  4. Note the Somerby is citing press coverage whereas Gay is calling for public groundswell.

    1. Again, has Gay considered that, as she said, “the media is, at least, covering the story” (rather than engaging in their usual behavior of blasting Gay’s accusation at the country) because political efforts are being made?

    2. Unclear what you are saying.

    3. I'm saying 70% percent of Hispanics disapprove of Biden and a new poll..

    4. Lots of people would prefer someone other than Biden, but we will all vote for Biden again over Trump or someone like him. Hispanic voters are no different than other Dems in this regard.

  5. Was Gay actually guilty of possession, or was this a trumped up charge? What do you think?

    1. Gay is the brain-dead media clown.

      And Griner is the idiot who took dope on an international flight. She pleaded guilty to possession and smuggling.

    2. Not a manufactured charge, but this would be over if Russia hadn’t invaded Ukraine just then.

  6. I get that Somerby wants liberals to be the adults in the room, because conservatives aren’t capable of being that. So, perhaps Gay should focus on the issue, which is bringing Griner home, rather than the potential reasons why people may not care about Griner, which include, in Gay’s opinion, homophobia. It’s not implausible, but still, the tone is accusatory, and we know that conservatives can’t handle criticism.

    1. Look who's talking!

    2. How much time did Gay actually spend calling people bigots? It looks like one sentence, but Somerby didn’t quote the whole article. Bet he would have, if she’d said more.

    3. The point is those accusations have been used so often and are used now so casually that we've lost sight of how toxic and bizarre they are.

      The point to nm is that no one likes to be criticized!

    4. Well said, @9:10PM. I think liberals may not realize how ugly and nasty those accusations are. Many liberals think that nastiness was first used by conservatives, not appreciating that liberal accusations of racism have been nasty for a long time.

    5. Oh my poor sensitive conservatives who chant to throw the opposition candidate in jail and are proud of it.

    6. The Gay writer is using a journalistic device, a Hypophora, asking and answering a question, that is used to draw readers in. So she shows the overuse and ubiquity of these accusations, instinctively using them to excite readers, not recognizing their nastiness as you say and really they're absurdity.

    7. Those statements were aimed at no one specific. Somerby has his panties in a bunch over nothing nasty, especially given that it is bigotry that is nasty, not the complaints about those who behave as bigots.

    8. No one was complaining or said a word about those who behave as bigots. Bigotry was used as a journalistic crutch casually and without regard to the nastiness of the accusation.

    9. Anonymous, you're not super together are you?

  7. Calling out racism is not toxic or bizarre. Racism itself is.

    1. The writer was not calling out racism.