Opinion Editorial

Principled punter talks gay marriage in Vancouver

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Punter Chris Kluwe said he was cut from the Minnesota Vikings due to his views about gay marriage.

Punter Chris Kluwe said he was cut from the Minnesota Vikings due to his views about gay marriage. (WENN.COM)

Would you give up a $1.45-million-a-year job playing professional football as the price to publicly speak out in favour of gay marriage?

Even though you are straight? Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe did.

And while Kluwe spoke at last week’s Vancouver TED Talks conference, he pulled no punches with 24 Hours when responding to my criticism of TED’s focus on corporate technology solving world problems.

That’s no surprise. In January, Kluwe wrote a provocative Deadspin article titled: I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot, charging that two coaches and a manager punted him for refusing to be silent.

But in person, Kluwe is no strident martyr — he’s just an ordinary guy in shorts, sandals and bare feet doing the right thing.

Last Tuesday, Kluwe spoke at teacher Suzanne Norman’s Simon Fraser University publishing class in Vancouver. Kluwe fielded questions from students, a player on SFU’s football team and myself.

The 32-year-old loves Vancouver and would consider playing for the BC Lions.

Kluwe agreed with my criticism that the $7,500 per person TED Talks that brought him here is far too fixated on corporate technology solutions to world problems.

“You can’t have the belief that technology will solve everything — it gives you the possibility of making things worse,” Kluwe said, adding that being cut by the Vikings last year was to silence him.

“This isn’t just something I had to go through — millions of people face losing their jobs for being gay. This is a fairly basic concept — treat people the way you want to be treated. You learn that in kindergarten.

“A lot of it is the corporatization of football. They don’t want to offend anyone,” Kluwe said.

Through this ordeal Kluwe’s two daughters have learned an invaluable lesson.

“In the future when dad says: ‘Do the right thing,’ they’ll know I did,” Kluwe concluded.

This political punter has an admirable kick.

As a side note, this week marks nine years writing in 24 hours — thanks to all my readers.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.ca. Email: weststar@telus.net. Twitter: @BillTieleman.



Would you give up your job to speak out on your beliefs?

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