Saturday, September 8, 2012
World, meet Chris Kluwe
By Kevin Seifert
I don't make a blog post out of every rant from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, mostly because they're frequent and often contain a level of profanity I can't even hint at here on ESPN.com. We should note, however, that Kluwe's most recent missive has resonated nationally, drawing attention from celebrities and cable news shows alike.
For those who missed it, Kluwe called out a Maryland state legislator who recently asked the Baltimore Ravens to prevent linebacker Brendon Ayanbedjo from speaking publicly about his support for same-sex marriage. The original letter to Maryland state Sen. Emmett C. Burns was posted on Deadspin.com. Kluwe has since posted a clean version of the letter on his blog at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A few samples:
- "As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom."
- "Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you?
- "You know what having these rights will make gays? Full fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?"
Kluwe has spoken out about gay rights before, but on this go-around celebrities from Ellen DeGeneres to Sarah Silverman have tweeted their thanks to him. He's popped up on MSNBC and KARE-11 in the Twin Cities, among other outlets, to discuss his views. His reaction has been discussed in media outlets from the Advocate to Politico.com to the New York Times.
The original letter, as entertaining as it was searing, came at a time when Maryland voters are considering whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Minnesota voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would formally ban it.
There's no doubt it takes some courage for a professional athlete to speak out on a sensitive issue. No one expects them to be social crusaders. It would have been totally normal for Kluwe to grumble quietly to himself and continue preparing for Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Around here, I think we knew already that Kluwe is a bit different than most NFL players. So this episode has put what we'll charitably call his unique personality into national focus.
I mean that in the nicest way, of course. Kluwe would fit in perfectly in a group of impossibly smart California mensas who spend half their time working out and (most of) the rest playing video games.
The son of a chemical engineer and the head of anesthesiology at a hospital, Kluwe scored 1490 on his SAT under the old format, including a perfect verbal score, and routinely speed-reads entire books in one sitting. (Here's Chip Scoggins' 2010 profile in the Star Tribune.) His initial blog post for the Pioneer Press included these memorable lines:
"Wouldn't it be cool to ride a space dragon? Other than the immediate boiling off of all the saliva on your tongue as you enter vacuum, followed by hypoxia and a moderately painful death, it would be amazing."
From space dragons to same-sex marriage. That's Chris Kluwe. This time, a few more people are hearing him.