Ben Shapiro was born on third base and he is whining now about how Megan Rapinoe is still able to outrun him, Greg Camp writes.

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First published in July 2019.

Political commentator Ben Shapiro, sticking true to his form, has attacked U.S. Women’s National Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe for being a success because she combines skill at playing football – he said soccer – with being a very outspoken lesbian.” According to him, Rapinoe is a Colin Kaepernick with talent, and were it not for her openness about her sexual orientation, she would not have achieved the stardom that she now enjoys.

I am plunging into waters that I have not sounded when it comes to sports, as I have no ability to discuss Kaepernick’s qualities in what my fellow Americans generally mean by football. What I can say is that he has used his time on the national stage to draw attention to wrongs being done under the color of law. And Rapinoe has represented our nation by winning.

Surely Ben Shapiro is not complaining about someone’s being outspoken, since his career depends on his face being planted in front of audiences, the more controversy the better. And I get it. People in the media make money by drawing in consumers of their products, and outrage is fine clickbait. But a functioning democracy requires we participants to slow down for a moment to contemplate the supporting reasoning.

Shapiro is the embodiment of the Gish Gallop, a term created by science educator Eugenie Scott to describe Duane Gish’s technique for supporting creationism: piling on as many claims as possible during his allotted time in a debate and then claiming that if his opponent did not refute one of them, it wins by default. Shapiro reminds me of the hosts on an infomercial. Say enough words about a particular cleaning product, cubic zirconia jewelry, or vitamin, and someone will buy it.

As Andrew Neil illustrated in his interview with Shapiro, however, this technique can be brought to a halt with sufficient clear-headed patience. Neil – himself a conservative, though of the British variety – insisted that Shapiro explain his thinking, point by point, rather than allowing him to spew out an unexamined stream of rhetoric. Shapiro’s response was to abandon the field.

The background controversy here is the question of how much America’s men’s team is being paid, as compared with the women’s team. Shapiro argues that capitalism is what raises a person’s pay, not artificial equality. He objects to the idea that the women players should earn the same as the men by some diktat – he uses that word in reference to the Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationally to suggest that equality is something that must be imposed.

But is Shapiro willing to stand by his principles? The women’s team brings in more revenue than the men’s team, and the women win. The details of how those dollars come in are complex, since sponsorships at times cover both teams, and the way the players of each team are paid differs, but in the simplistic logic of Shapiro’s bootstrapping argument, winners are more deserving than losers, and the women’s team does keep winning.

Shapiro admitted his true objection to the attention that Rapinoe has received, namely her sexuality. She is a lesbian, and in Shapiro’s view, she thus belongs to the contemporary movement to displace white men who are attracted to women from positions of cultural influence. From a moral standpoint, framing things this way is not persuasive, given the history of abuses committed by his favored class, but he has adopted a stance that is difficult to maintain for any intellectually honest person. Unfettered capitalism seeks profit wherever it may be found, whereas the Judeo-Christian ideology that Shapiro espouses declares some acts to be right and others wrong, regardless of the cost. He may wish that an outspoken lesbian did not have market value, but a good capitalist would acknowledge that she does and praise her for that. If his god is Mammon, to borrow a formulation from the Gospel of Matthew, he should stop dallying with other gods.

The reality is that Shapiro’s ideology cannot survive in a free market. It is feudalism with a Twitter account, a belief that the favored group should fight among themselves, but never face a challenge from the little people. Megan Rapinoe followed his program, developing innate talent through hard work and making a success of herself. Shapiro, if I may mix sports metaphors here, was born on third base. He is whining now about how Rapinoe is still able to outrun him.

Is she outspoken? Yes. So is he.

And the market of public attention has chosen its winner.🔷

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in on 11 July 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Jamie Smed. - Megan Rapinoe. | 16 May 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)