THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2023
Remarkably strange beliefs: What follows is, or should be, deeply depressing. It's a note about Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl-winning former NFL head coach.
On a personal basis, Dungy has always been highly regarded within NFL circles. He's also a Christian conservative, but what follows isn't intended as a commentary on his past or present political judgments.
What follows is a commentary on something he apparently believed. Here's the start of a recent report from the Indianapolis Star:
FRANK (1/21/23): Tony Dungy, the former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, apologized Saturday for a since-deleted comment on Twitter earlier in the week regarding a proposed Minnesota state bill requiring menstrual products in boys' school bathrooms.
"This past week I posted a tweet that I subsequently deleted. I issued an apology but not everyone saw it," Dungy's tweet stated. "So I am reposting my apology here. As a Christian I want to be a force for love to everyone. A force for healing and reconciliation-not for animosity."
As part of his apology that was made the day after his deleted tweet, Dungy said, "As a Christian I should speak in love and in ways that are caring and helpful. I failed to do that and I am deeply sorry."
Dungy's original comment about the subject stated: "That's nothing," Dungy tweeted at 9:38 a.m. Wednesday. "Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student's needs."
By 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dungy deleted his cat litter tweet which was in response to a Daily Wire video showing Minnesota State Rep. Sandra Feist advocating for menstrual items in boys' school bathrooms.
Should public schools have menstrual products inside boys' bathrooms? Presumably, most people can probably see why that proposal would strike many people as strange.
That's not what we're talking about! We're talking about the fact that Dungy apparently believed the claim which has been going around, according to which some districts now have litter boxes in public school bathrooms (and classrooms) for kids who identify as cats.
By any normal measure, Tony Dungy plainly isn't "stupid." On a personal basis, he's long been highly regarded by most people who know him.
That said, he was somehow able to believe the claim about the public school litter boxes. He believed it to the point where he was willing to post a tweet complaining about the practice.
For better or worse, we all live in an age of "new anthropology." The rise of talk radio and social media have created a world in which crazy claims are persistently all around us—and many people believe them.
This strikes us as a new and profound anthropological learning. It was hard to know that we human are able to believe anything, no matter how transparently nutty, until the Internet came along and put the matter to a test.
There's nothing we humans won't believe! This strikes us as a major new learning. It also represents a terrible, daunting challenge to our political system.
For the record, weird belief isn't confined to red tribe people, the ones who live Over There. Our own tribe has its own widespread forms of unfortunate bogus belief.
(Did you hear the one about the crazily racist white medical students?)
There seems to be no claim which is so transparently nutty or improbable that lots of people won't believe it, especially at times of tribal stress. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans aren't "the rational animal," and it looks like we never were!
"Man [sic] is the rational animal?" Way back when, at the dawn of the west, was that the original transparently wacky belief?