Scroll through social media after the news that a grand jury in Texas had indicted ex-Seahawks star Michael Bennett for a felony charge of injury of the elderly, and one thing is clear: This is not about Bennett. This is about people’s world views and their need to protect them.
As soon as word of former Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s felony arrest warrant came down Friday, outkickthecoverage.com’s Clay Travis — who has been critical of Bennett for months — took to Twitter to gloat.
“Lying, race-baiting fraud Michael Bennett indicted for felony charge involving injury of an elderly paraplegic person,” Travis tweeted. “NFL man of the year locked up for 2018.”
Just a few minutes later, Intercept writer and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King weighed in with a different point of view.
“Sure. An officer saw Michael Bennett brutally assault a sweet old woman, said nothing, did nothing, then they decided to charge him with felony assault …14 months later,” King tweeted. “BOGUS.”
Not long after, former ESPN reporter and self-proclaimed conservative Britt McHenry tossed her thoughts into the Twitterverse.
“Michael Bennett is a proven race-baiting liar. But liberals propped him up as ‘Man of the Year’ & gave him an SI cover,” McHenry wrote. “Now, THEY’RE STILL DEFENDING HIM. Hurting an elderly paraplegic somehow isn’t that bad? It’s insane. But keep blaming police officers.”
And then Tariq Nasheed, a black film producer and media personality, dove into the fray.
“They are putting this bogus charge on Michael Bennett to send a message to OTHER Black NFL players to stop calling out white supremacy, or they will use the system of white supremacy to target other Black players who get too ‘uppity,’ ” Nasheed tweeted.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world in which we live. Scroll through social media, and you’ll find countless examples highlighting such division on this topic. And I’m not talking about trolls with 43 followers and a picture of Uncle Rico as their avatars. I’m talking about some of the well-established, respected media members in the country.
What’s crazy about this is we don’t know what Bennett actually did. During a news conference Friday, Houston police chief Art Acevedo said Bennett had forced his way onto the NRG Stadium field after his brother’s Patriots beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl in February 2017. Acevedo added that Bennett had sprained a 66-year-old paraplegic security officer’s shoulder upon pushing her and later told a police officer: “Y’all must not know who I am. I can own this mother (expletive). I’m going onto the field whether you like it or not.”
The thing is … there is no known video of the incident. And it took 14 months for him to be indicted. And we still haven’t heard a word from Bennett.
It’s a nebulous situation, but that didn’t stop the takes from rolling in.
Tweeted right-wing commentator and “From Democrat to Deplorable” author Jack Murphy: “Michael Bennett, the NFL player who lied about being racially profiled at gunpoint by police, sits during the Anthem and became a hero of Black Lives Matter, was indicted on felony charges today for assaulting an elderly paraplegic female stadium worker. Justice.”
Tweeted ESPN broadcaster Cari Champion in response to the allegations: “No Way. No how. I’m not buying it. I’m sorry but I’m calling foul. Never met a more generous and kind person off the field.”
Pretty sure you get the point by now. This is not about Michael Bennett. This is about people’s world views and their need to protect them.
Between sitting during the national anthem and accusing police of racial profiling in Las Vegas, Bennett became a hero to one part of the country and a villain to another. And I can’t help but think that, in most people’s eyes, this isn’t a matter of one man’s guilt or innocence — but a matter of a movement’s legitimacy or lack thereof.
That’s why fervid opinions keep coming in despite a dearth of facts. That’s why minds are no more open than a bank on Sunday.
It’s understandable why people would proceed this way, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. No matter the situation — facts always matter.
Whether it be police violence, sexual harassment or anything Donald Trump, there are lot of emotionally charged topics out there today. What seems to be waning is the concept of anyone judging instances on a case-by-case basis. It’s becoming an all-or-nothing, my-side-against-yours world in which people see only what they want to see.
When bodycam footage from Las Vegas emerged, Travis was convinced that it proved Bennett was lying about his interaction with police. (Actually, there was zero footage of the takedown, which is what Bennett was complaining about.)
A few weeks later, after Texans players kneeled during the anthem at CenturyLink Field, King tweeted “unlike in other cities where protesters were booed and heckled, the Seahawks fans gave them a standing ovation.” (Actually, the fans always stand during the anthem and always cheer when it’s over.)
On Saturday, it was reported that Bennett, who lives in Hawaii, will surrender to authorities when he returns to the continental U.S. What happens then is unclear.
We will, however, likely learn more about the details in Houston. Assuming, of course, those details actually matter to anyone.