Why Is Everyone So Upset With Jameis Winston?

When I heard last year’s Heisman trophy winner, Jameis Winston, was suspended for a game last Saturday because he acted like a person his age normally acts, I laughed. Apparently what he said was offensive to women and not appropriate, but I’ve heard similar things spoken in high school hallways and on my own college campus. Of course, not everyone stands up on a table in the middle of their college campus to shout such things, but all the same, the words Jameis Winston spoke which led to his suspension are common, and come out of the mouth of just about every college student. What is more, all he did was repeat the words of what was apparently a popular internet meme.

The same words he spoke can be found in the songs of popular rappers and music artists, and they are celebrated. They are in films, and they are in our common speech. Most people thought what he said was funny, as the plethora of tweets about the event proved. Everyone laughed. Why then did he get suspended for acting the way the culture teaches us to act? Do people really not know what middle school, high school, and college-aged kids say?

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Jameis Winston got suspended for acting exactly the way he was supposed to act. The media has come out and claimed that what he said was offensive to women, okay, but why then does popular culture encourage this type of attitude toward women?
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As Doug Wilson says, “a large part of the entertainment industry is dedicated to honoring the dishonorable, praising the despicable, and glorifying the inglorious.” Jameis Winston’s crime is that he actually said, publically, what is only said behind closed doors, or allowed in media as “art”. Also, he happens to be famous, and because he is famous, we hold him to a higher standard for some reason.
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A lot of analysts now are debating whether or not Winston will be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.  My question is, why would repeating a popular phrase rule him out? Because he lacks moral character? Yes, and the NFL is certainly a bastion of morality which promotes the dignity of women. Much more offensive things are said about women in football locker rooms, but you don’t hear about that. Actually, much more offensive things are said in high school and middle school lunch rooms, forget locker rooms. Why? Because this is the way popular culture, with its lyrics, dialogue, pictures, and videos has taught men to talk and think about women. College kids aren’t upset with what Winston said, they’re just upset that his scandal has turned their funny meme into a bad thing.
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Poor Jameis is being punished, not for what he said, but for where he said it. If he had just waited until after he was drafted, and did it in front of his teammates when the cameras weren’t on, he would simply be referred to as a funny guy, or maybe a good teammate.
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I don’t think we as a society have a right to be upset at someone when they act exactly the way we’ve told them to. We shouldn’t be surprised when someone acts exactly the way popular culture has told them to act. If you want to be mad at young Jameis who is just a kid after all, just 20 years old (can’t expect much of 20-year-olds, right?), then you should be mad at him for stealing $32 worth of crab legs, not for repeating a meme. Really, Jameis? Stealing crab legs? I haven’t heard one rap song about that (then again I don’t listen to rap music, so who knows. Crab legs are pretty good, and he is a poor starving college kid after all).

Actually, now that I think about it, Jameis didn’t steal, he only “shoplifted,” and according to Al Sharpton, there is a BIG difference between robbing and shoplifting. So let’s not be too harsh here on young Jameis.

Now, I am not defending Winston’s actions, but there is a disconnect here. If you were to tell regular college or high school students that they shouldn’t speak or behave in such a way (which I have) then you get laughed at or mocked. Yet, Jameis does it and suddenly it’s a bad thing. I think everyone should be held to the same standard.
When we talk so often about how we expect college kids to be immature, and that it’s normal and natural and fine…why do we get up set when one acts the way we expect him to act? Just because he’s good on the football field we suddenly expect more from him? Or is it that we really are okay with such behavior, so long as it only goes on at parties where there are no cameras. Perhaps we actually just feel betrayed that Winston did, in public and in broad daylight, what we wanted to keep in private and in the dark. Now that, I don’t think, is very fair.

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3 Comments

  1. He was suspended for what he said because his words were taken in the context of the sexual assault he was accused of and the fact that a young lady is still receiving counselling over his alleged behavior. I'm sure the theft, as well as a litany of other misdemeanors, all played a part in the suspension also. His words were the straw that broke the camels back so to speak.

  2. I understand that. What I was pointing out was the hypocrisy of society. If you told any old college student not to behave in such a way, or that such words are offensive, you would get laughed at. The vast majority of people think it's fine to say such things, but when someone brings into the spotlight this normal behavior, suddenly, people don't think it's okay.

    My main point is that this kind of behavior should always be wrong, not just when it's inconvenient. (And the sexual assault charges were dismissed because there was hardly any evidence to confirm it, so he's legally innocent of that.Something probably did happen, but again, nothing that society doesn't praise.)

  3. I hear what you're saying, and agree that what Jameis did wasn't much different than what many do. Nonetheless, I think it's the accumulation of bad choices that caused the outcry this time; this was a final breaking point for the public. Right or not, we do expect more from “heroes”–even when the way we choose heroes is SO flawed. 🙁 It's a complex issue, and one we need to continue to wrestle with. I appreciate you wrestling with it here.

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