There has been much written about the defacto banning of Kate Smith’s voice and image from the home of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Yankees but little about music and images that are happily played at American sporting venues without question or concern.
The compare-and-contrast between what we allow versus what we ban, tells a lot about our 21st century cultural shortcomings.
First, allow me a recap of the Kate Smith’s dustup in case you haven't heard of it.
After 9/11, many sporting venues, in a show of patriotism, began a tradition of playing a recording of Irvin Berlin’s classic "God Bless America," belted out by Kate Smith (deceased since 1986).
Smith, it seems, was quite a gal.
She was a popular entertainer in her day who volunteered to entertain the troops during World War II and was seen regularly in movies and on TV.
Smith also published songs that we now, with almost a century’s hindsight, have concluded were racially insensitive.
Because of this, Kate Smith was given the deep six.
If Kate Smith and "God Bless America" are now verboten in sporting venues, next time you’re out at a game take a listen to what is allowed. For example, in contrast, I can’t tell you how many times in the past few decades I’ve heard the Rolling Stones’ "Sympathy for the Devil" blared across speakers at venues advetising themselves as "family friendly."
Also playing with regular frequency at these same family centered sporting venues are countless tunes crooned by misogynist rockers and rappers, whose foul-mouthed lyrics are often played unedited.
How in the #MeToo era can this still be?
Knowing what we now know about Michael Jackson, should we still be playing "Thriller" in public venues? For that matter, why glorify the drug culture by playing Jim Morrison of The Doors, Prince, or Janis Joplin?
Certainly, nothing by producer Phil Spector should ever get a listened to again.
The sarcastic point being, if public venues are now in the business of silencing musicians whose behavior wasn’t always 100% appropriate, they are to become as quiet as libraries.
Speaking of libraries, if we go by the Kate Smith standard set in New York and Philly, we also wouldn’t have books on our library shelves, as authors are just as human as musicians.
Don’t dare ever let someone check out a book by Mark Twain, as some of his dialogue is also now considered as racially insensitive as some of Kate Smith’s lyrics.
Of course, Kate Smith’s biggest flaw from our 21st century perspective, that The Rolling Stones and Phil Specter don’t suffer from, is Smith, long before it was a thing, didn’t strictly observe politically correct dogma.
That's a sin that isn’t tolerated in our modern age. Ironically, the doctrine of political correctness prides itself on tolerance. Yet, time and time again the adherents of political correctness have proven themselves to be some of the most intolerant people on planet earth. If you aren’t always on the politically correct bandwagon, you are the enemy.
I get uncomfortable when we start banning people based upon their own political ideology, or personal expression. What are we to become? Another China or Saudi Arabia, places where speech and expression are subject to approval; where punishment is meted out to those not toeing the line?
But Kate Smith’s banishment is small potatoes.
The San Francisco Board of Education has called a mural featuring George Washington that has been in one of its schools for 83 years both "offensive" and "demoralizing."
Speaking of California, California State University, Long Beach has just banished its Prospector Pete mascot because the Gold Rush miners of the 1800’s were disruptive to indigenous Americans’ way of life.
Those of us, who are alive today, would be better served looking in the mirror to correct our own flaws rather than finding fault with those who came before us.
Matthew Kastel is a 25-year veteran of working as an executive in the world of sports, including professional teams, organizations, and some of the largest vendors in the industry. Matt has also written two novels and teaches and lectures at universities on the business of sports. For more information you can visit his website at thirdstrikeproductions.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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