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Letter from a Birmingham Jail

With all of the recent discussion of the protests and riots following George Floyd's murder I thought it was worth remembering that this conversation has occurred before. Many objected to the tactics used by the Civil Rights movement with the same arguments and criticism that we hear today. I think they ring as hollow now as they did then. I think we could do well to read MLK's words and reflect on whether we want to be embracing the arguments that were so eloquently criticized here.
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
submitted by cstar1996 to moderatepolitics [link] [comments]

Blogging & YouTube Income Report for 2020 So Far ($16k per month)

Hey all, it's been a while since I posted an income report here. If anyone is interested, here are links to my previous posts on /Entrepreneur:
Idk why I stopped posting here...sorry about that.
I did publish a 2018 year-in-review and income report on my actual blog (The Modest Man), which you can read right here if you'd like.
My name is Brock, and I run a content site ("blog") called The Modest Man, along with a YouTube Channel under the same name. I did this part time for a few years before going full time about 4 years ago.

HERE'S A TL;DR CATCH UP:

2018 Revenue: $117k (Halfway through that year, I partnered with a menswear brand, getting a small equity stake and joining the team part time. So my content business was sort of on the backburner for the second half of the year, hence no growth YoY.)
2019 Revenue: $126k (Last year, I was still working at least half time - often more - for the menswear brand, but I did see a little bit of growth with my content business. The position forced me to get better at outsourcing in my own business. I decided to leave that position in December to focus on my business full time again. Luckily, the business was in better shape than ever
2020 Revenue Jan-Jun: $96k
2020 Monthly Profit So Far: $12,198 (roughly 75% margin)
This comes from Ads, Affiliate Programs and Sponsored Content. If you want the nitty gritty on these categories, see my Q1 report and Q2 report.
Ironically, working for someone else for a while really lit a fire under my butt to get things streamlined for growth in my own business.
In 2020, I've been focussing on "e-mything" my operation as much as possible, although there's still a long way to go.

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I'VE LEARNED:

Hiring professional writers is worth it, and ProBlogger is the best place to find professional freelance writers. If you want to see the process I use to hire via ProBlogger, here it is.
It's a numbers game once your site is established. If you have a blog (content site) with decent domain authority, the name of the game is publishing more content. This includes refreshing old content (here's a case study/process for that).
Publishing a new post is like taking a shot on goal. More shots on goal = more chances to score.
Yes, your content has to be good, but not Pulizter Prize good. Quality is always a good play, but quality + quantity is how you get rich in the digital media game.
I focus on different metrics now. Rather than looking at traffic, I keep an eye on the number of keywords my domain is ranking for. I want to see this number increase over time. This is a leading indicator for traffic. I use Ahrefs to track this.
While I still look at top line revenue, I keep a close eye on truly passive income. This is income from my website (not YouTube or social media) that comes from affiliate programs and display ads. It doesn't include sponsored content because that's not passive.
I focus on this number because it matters most to potential buyers, and I'd like to sell this website at some point in the future. They want to buy money-making websites, not influencer businesses or YouTube channels.
So, even though on paper Q2 2020 was revenue was down from Q1, passive income was actually up. Good news!

MY CURRENT GOALS...

Now, I'm still making YouTube videos and taking on sponsors when it makes sense. It's not passive, but it definitely brings in cash that I can use to live and fund the business.
My main goal is to grow the website with a more aggressive publishing schedule (3 posts per week), which is only possible with a great team of freelance writers, plus two assistants who do all the formatting, etc.
I'm currently putting about $2-3k per month into content and focusing on content with plenty of organic potential and/or affiliate opportunities.
If you have any questions about my business or the digital media game in general, feel free to ask!
submitted by themodestman to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

Arbitrary list of popular lights - Summer Solstice 2020 edition

Happy Solstice!
In honor of Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere, I've made an updated list of popular lights. Today is a couple days after (sorry!) the day you're least likely to need a flashlight north of the equator, but it increases every day after so it's a good time to buy a flashlight.
Because a definitive buyer's guide is too hard, I've made an arbitrary list of popular lights you should consider if you're shopping for a light. There is no best flashlight, so this is not the last word in what's good, but a list of lights that are often bought or recommended here with a touch of my own opinion thrown in. Exclusion from this list doesn't mean a light isn't good. To search more lights by their attributes, try http://flashlights.parametrek.com/index.html
Where possible, official manufacturer URLs are linked here. Sometimes the manufacturer offers good deals through direct orders, sometimes vendors have the best prices. There are coupon codes available that apply to many of the lights listed. I'm hosting a version of this list on my own site with affiliate links because a few people have asked for a way to give me a kickback.
Shipping/availability may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, items shipped from China are often taking 2 months to arrive. Supply chains and warehouse stock also appear to be disrupted as well, so you may have to be more patient than usual if you want certain flashlights, chargers, and batteries.

For those in a hurry

If you don't want to learn much, just get one of these.

All of the lights in this section come with a rechargeable battery and have a charger built in to the light. The battery will be a standard size you can buy online from third parties, and the charger will use USB as its power source, though some options do use a special cable. Aside from the Catapult, all have very good color quality compared to the average LED flashlight, improving your ability to see details.
These are at the top of the list not because they're the best in some objective sense, but because they're easy to own and use, and easy to buy. They score well on most measure flashlight nerds care about while also being suitable for non-enthusiasts.

About specs and considerations

Moved to the wiki due to character limit

Mainstream lights

Everyday Carry Lights

These are selected for pocketability first and performance second, but most of the larger options are perfectly adequate for house/cacamping/etc... uses. This section excludes right-angle designs that double as headlamps, but many people do use those for pocket carry, so see that section as well.

Keychain

AAA battery

AA battery

CR123A/16340 battery

18350 battery

18650 battery

This category is so popular it gets subcategories. If you're looking for a lot of power and runtime that's still possible to carry in most pants pockets, this is your battery.

Dual-switch lights

A tailswitch controls power, a sideswitch changes brightness. The ease of explaning the UI makes these perfect to hand out to others.

E-switch lights

Electronic switches enable shortcuts from off to useful modes - usually lowest, highest, and last-used.

Other by use case

Right-angle lights and headlamps

If I could have only one portable light, it would be a right-angle light that functions as both an everyday carry light and a headlamp. Some lights in this form factor also offer a magnetic tailcap, allowing them to act as mountable area lights.

Small

Medium

All of these use one 18650 battery.

Large

Duty lights

These are suitable for first responders and possibly members of the military in combat roles. The focus is on simple operation, reliability and a good way to make sure the light starts on high.

High-performance lights

Most lights on the list are easy to carry, with performance constrained by size and thermal mass as a result. After all, the best light is the one you have. Here are lights to bring when you know you'll be using them.

Flooders

Turn night into day, but not necessarily very far away

Throwers

What's that over there? WAY over there? The hotspots of these lights tend to be too focused for comfortable use up close, though using a diffuser is an option. These tend to be most useful for search and rescue, boating, and the like.
FL1 throw is the distance at which large objects can be detected in clear air. At half that distance, there's usually enough illumination to see clearly, though with more extreme throwers, the distances may be so great as to require binoculars to see clearly even during the day. Throwers have visible backscatter from the atmosphere even in clear air, which may obstruct the user's view of the target. Warmer color temperatures tend to have less.

Hybrids

Some throw, some flood... probably a lot

Other lights

Stuff that doesn't fit somewhere else goes here.

Enthusiast lights

Enthusiast lights can be subject to a bit of a flavor of the month phenomenon, and this section isn't necessarily going to try to include them all. What you'll find here are enthusiast lights with some staying power. There will probably be an Emisar D4 of some description this time next year, but not necessarily the latest new FW variant or whatever's currently trendy from Nightwatch.

Everyday carry

Jacket pocket, maybe

Big

* BLF GT90 - the GT with a Luminus SBT-90.2 for over 7000 lumens and 2700m throw claimed, but that's going to be limited by heat and power. For sustainable performance, the original may have the advantage. For short bursts, this will be most impressive. 360, but look for discounts

Edit 20200624: added Tool AA, NU25, KR4, KR1
submitted by Zak to flashlight [link] [comments]

Growing A Blog Network To >$25,000 A Month! - June 2020 - $4744/$25,000.

So this is my second monthly update post for Reddit and it is essentially a text-based version of my monthly update video that I post too. Income is down this month but I think that it is due to having so many returns for the Amazon Affiliate Program but thankfully, returns have normalized towards the middle/end of June so I am hoping that July won't have this issue. My theory is that people started using their stimulus cheques to purchase the professional level gear in one of the niches that I have an affiliate blog in and then ended up returning the items as they realized they only needed the amateur level gear or something.
My income screenshots for the month of June are below but the site level income screenshots later in the article are for Amazon.com only as it makes up around 75% of my income and going into the other Amazon storefronts to get screenshots for their trackers is a pain.
Previous Updates
May 2020
Just a few points to quickly cover from FAQs from last month's update. I don't give out any of the actual URLs for my affiliate blogs as it is too easy to use a tool like AHRefs to scan them and duplicate the more profitable keywords with your own articles on your own sites. I had a number of people reaching out last month as they wanted to see what my affiliate blogs look like but I go over examples of how I format my affiliate and display ad articles in this video and little to nothing has changed in the layout of my articles since publishing that.
I also had a few people reaching out and asking what my daily workflow looks like as an affiliate blogger and this a day in the life video pretty much covers it. I am still in the scaling phase for my blogs so doing a large amount of the work myself while outsourcing various tasks where possible too. I also had a bunch of people reaching out and asking how they could get started with affiliate blogging and I published this Quora answer to a similar question over the weekend that's almost 4000 words that may be helpful.
Generation One Domains
My generation one domains use a keyword research method that is not as efficient as it once was due to the 4th May 2020 Google update to their algorithm. Additionally, many of these first-generation domains were tests to transition from old school automated black hat SEO to a more Google-friendly method of off-page SEO.
Domain 1 - $164
- Analytics
- Income
- Wordcount
Nothing has changed for this domain since the May 2020 update due to it having been hit by the Google Media algorithm update as well as being in a niche where the April 2020 Amazon Affiliate commission cuts reduced its income by around 60%. I don't plan to work on this domain anymore due to this and I haven't added a new article to it since early 2018 if I remember correctly. I am happy with it ticking over bringing in $164 a month from now on as the domain has been profitable for a while now. It's just a shame that just as its traffic starts to pick up, Amazon decide to cut their commission rates for its niche else I think this domain would be >$500 per month now.
Domain 2 - $1179
- Analytics
- Income
- Wordcount
- Dedicated Site Report Video
Similar to domain 1 covered above, nothing has changed for this domain since the May 2020 update and I haven't published a new article to the domain since September 2019. It has also been hit negatively by two Google updates but thankfully the Google update in November 2019 recovered it from the negative updates and it's now doing better than ever. I put a video up on what to expect for your first six months of blogging featuring this domain as I feel that it is likley the best example that I have from my current portfolio for anyone wanting to get started with affiliate blogging.
Domain 3 - $1952
- Analytics
- Income
- Wordcount
- Dedicated Site Report Video
Although I have not actually published any new content on this domain in the month of June, I have been researching some new products that have been confirmed for the niche. The regular teaser videos are on YouTube with photos on the brands social media accounts but there is no real information on the specs, price, or release date for the items. Out of the three, I think two will be really good and popular within the niche so once I have more info I will be putting out more content for them but the third item seems to be a more expensive version of one of their current items so not sure how that one will do.
The community based around this particular niche has been putting out a bunch of speculation regarding price, specs, and release date but I can't find anything solid from the actual brand. As we are already a week into July I doubt they will be released this month now but time will tell. Even if the brand releasing these products would just confirm the specs and price I can start knocking out the bare bones of some articles with the correct information but until then I will just focus on growing my newer domains.
I have noticed a compeating domain in this niche that seems to have used a tool like AHRefs to scan my domain and pull the keywords that it is ranking in Google for. The new compeating domain is only publishing articles targeting keywords that my domain is already ranking in the top three of Google for but their on-page SEO is not as good as mine and from what I can tell, they are not doing any off-page SEO either.
Right now I am not taking this compeating domain as a threat but if they do start to build backlinks to their content and fix the on-page SEO issues they are having I may have to spend some cash on this domain to get it stronger backlinks so it can keep ranking for the terms it is pulling traffic for.
Domain 4 - $284
- Analytics
- Income
- Wordcount
This domain is the one I started in January 2020 and it surprisingly saw some really solid growth in both traffic and income considering the problems it is having. Essentially, there is an issue with the Google indexing system right now that they have confirmed they are aware of but seem to be struggling to fix. They tweeted out at the start of June that they had fixed the issue but the comments on the twitter post and my own experience contradict this with some people on twitter saying that the "fix" actually made it worse for their domain.
This is a screenshot of this domains coverage tab from my Google Search Console and as you can see from the verticle bars, there was a dip in the pages that were excluded from the Google Index when I used the force index option in Search Console but Google kicked the pages backout of their index a few days later again. It's a shame because I have a bunch of keywords ready to go for this domain but I don't want to put the time and effort into publishing them only for them to not get indexed in Google and not be able to pull traffic and make money so I will be waiting until Google fix the issue.
I have had a bunch of people reaching out about this issue and how to fix it but it does just seem to be a gamble right now. Force indexing in Google Search Console fixed this issue for this domain for around a week before Google kicked the articles out of their index, for Domain 5 I used the exact same force indexing system and it fixed the issue for the domain. I'm just hoping that Google can work out what's actually wrong and fix it asap.
Domain 5 - $1.87
- Analytics - Google Traffic
- Analytics - Pinterest Traffic
- Income
- Wordcount
This is the domain that I launched on 1st May 2020 only for Google to release their 4th May 2020 update and make the keywords that I was targeting on the domain much higher competition. For this niche the Google update seems to have given sites like YouTube, Reddit, Quora, and Amazon much more weight in the SERPs and pushed them really high on page one. Although Domain 3 was also hit by this update dropping by around 20% in traffic (starting to see some recovery now), that niche was not hit anywhere near as badly as this one and I can definitely see how some people were reporting >80% traffic drops back in May for their blogs after taking a more in-depth look of how the update affected this niche.
All of the keyword research for this domain that was done in April is pretty much useless now due to the update. That said though, I have spend some time using my post 4th May update keyword research method to try and find keywords to grow this domain in the future once I am done with Domain 6. Although I have been able to find around 50, it is much harder to do in this niche now due to the way the May 4th update hit it.
I keep flip-flopping between trying to find more keywords to get it up to 10,000 monthly sessions so I can get it on Ezoic or Monumetric for the higher display ad income or just scrapping it and letting it die and going with a new niche for my display ad project. I am kind of using keyword research for this project as a way to break up the monotony for churning out the articles for Domain 6 though. I basically smash out an article for Domain 6 and then take a little break doing keyword research for this domain so I will see how many actionable keywords I have by the time Domain 6 is finished and I need something new to focus on content-wise.
One of my friends who is more experienced with informational intent keywords for display ad sites has a theory that this may just be an extension to the Google Sandbox effect for some niches/keyword combos. He is having the same issue with his latest domain and has sunk much more cash into his project than I have for mine. I'm not sure if this will pan out but there's not really anything else to do with the keywords already published on the domain than wait and see if it does pick up at the >6 months of age mark or not.
Generation Two Domains
My second generation domains are build using a keyword research method that I am developing after the 4th May 2020 Google update that affected the way I did keyword research for my first-generation affiliate domains above. These domains are also based around being smaller niche sites rather than large multi-niche sites so if a competitor does scan my domains with a tool such as AHRefs, they only get a small portion of the keywords for my full money site network.
Domain 6
- Wordcount
This domain has been my main focus for July and it was launched around the 1st June with the Wordcount count above. I have freelance writers helping me with the content for this domain and they are focusing on the longer buyer guide type posts for higher search volume/higher competition keywords while I am focusing on trying to knock out 50 articles using the zero search volume strategy that I have been playing with over the years.
The keywords that my freelance writers are working on are essentially a proof of concept for a theory I have for keyword research after the Google 4th May update and if it works then I will move forward with that method for my affiliate sites. The articles that I am focusing on are based around the latest version of the zero search volume strategy on the theory that as keyword tools usually say the keyword gets zero searches, most people ignore it and they tend to be lower competition and much easier to rank for.
From the test batches of these keywords that I have been putting on my older domains, these keywords do tend to get traffic, usually, around >50 hits per month but they don't require backlinking to actually rank in Google. Although 50 hits per month is not much, the last round of this strategy that I tried on domain 3 are running at around $100 per 1000 hits to the domain so with the right item price point, 20 of these articles can potentially bring in $100 a month and they are usually 1000-1500 words rather than 2000-4000 words too. Although its slightly different, Phil who runs this case study has confirmed that he uses a similar keyword research method and has managed to have his second >$500 month on a domain that is only six months old.
If this test batch of the zero search volume keywords works then I am actually considering making domain 7 based around nothing but these keywords with zero backlinks to it too as it can be another way to scale. As the method can be used for both affiliate and display ad keywords, I might try to use the method to try find keywords for Domain 5 too but as its a display ad site, the RPM might be too low to make it worth it.
submitted by shaun-m to Blogging [link] [comments]

[RuPaul's Drag Race] A Slice of Sherry Pie: a tale of drag queens, fake auditions, and sexual harassment

RuPaul’s Drag Race
Before getting into the drama let’s discuss some background and necessary terms. Drag is usually defined as someone who dresses up in hair, makeup, and costumes for entertainment purposes. Typically, drag queens are gay men who perform as women in drag, but anyone is able to participate in the art of drag.
When referring to drag queens she/her pronouns are typically used when a queen is in drag or when discussing their career. I will also only refer to a queen using their drag name but their real names can easily be found.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality competition show hosted by RuPaul to crown “America’s Next Drag Superstar”. The success of the series has resulted in numerous spinoff series and a seemingly constant stream of drag related content. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race receives a one year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills Cosmetics and a cash prize of $100,000. In the LGBTQ+ and drag community being casted on Drag Race is a huge deal and can propel a queen’s career to the point that they can become a full time drag queen.
Sherry Pie
Sherry Pie, or Joey Gugliemelli, is a 28 year old drag queen from New York City and was cast on Season 12 of Drag Race. Her drag is known for being campy and inspired by musical theater. Since the show is filmed almost a year before it is set to air, it is common for spoilers about how contestants perform to emerge from subreddits like SpoiledDragRace. Season 12 was filmed in July of 2019 and began airing in February of 2020. The premier was split over two weeks so that half the queens appeared in the first episode and the other half in the second episode. Sherry was slated to make her Drag Race debut on the second half of the premier. Rumors began circulating that Sherry did well on the show and made it far into the competition. Then the allegations started piling up.
The Allegations
On March 4, the day before Sherry’s episode was set to premier, Ben Shimkus posted a detailed account of his experience with Sherry Pie on Facebook. He and Sherry attended Cortland State University’s Musical Theatre program together and performed in over a dozen shows together. When Ben was a senior, a friend reached out saying there was an audition at the prestigious Playwright’s Horizons in New York City and gave him the contact information for a woman named Allison Mossey.
“Allison and I went through an email thread that lasted over 150 emails in about three weeks. We covered topics of pay, living situations in the city, when I would have to leave school for rehearsals, and conversations about acting choices for the character. I had to film scenes that felt particularly sexual and awkward, but the opportunity seemed too good to let the overt sexual nature or my inhibitions get in the way. I simply told myself that my parents wouldn’t be allowed to see the show, but I wanted the professional experience and the bright and shiny object on my resume… The specific video submissions I sent were of me taking steroids and immediately growing larger muscles and gaining physical power. The character, Jeff, talked about how much his armpits began to stink and how much he liked that.”
This back and forth continued with little sign of any roles materializing, and eventually Allison Mossey stopped responding. Ben became frustrated and called Playwright’s Horizons directly to get in contact with Allison, but was notified that no one at the company had ever heard of her. He reached out to the original friend who had given him Allison’s contact information to let him know that Allison had no affiliation with the theatre company. Ben asked how he heard about Allison Mossey; Sherry Pie had recommended he get in touch with Allison. But Ben was just one of many men that Sherry Pie manipulated into sending sexually explicit videos for roles that didn’t exist.
“When I began telling my friends about what had happened to me, one of my best friends told me that a colleague who had worked at a theatre doing Hairspray with Sherry also had the same experience with Allison Mossey. Another friend said the same thing had happened to someone she knew. Her friend was also in close contact with Sherry. Wherever Sherry seemed to go, Allison would follow. Since being open about my experience, six people have corroborated stories with me.”
Another man, Daniel Lynn Evans was offered an audition with Allison directly through Sherry Pie claiming to be the casting agent’s assistant. In a screenshot shared by Daniel, Sherry states:
“But I think they may ask you to get bigger, but they pay for it… [Allison Mossie] casts the whole thing but I like to make suggestions.”
Daniel wasn’t interested in taking steroids for a role, but other victims were encouraged to misuse steroids in order to get the role that Sherry/Allison promised them.
Another notable example of Sherry’s predatory behavior surfaced when Josh Lillyman came forward. In 2017, the 20 year old actor met Sherry after being cast in two productions together. It was then that Sherry groomed him and introduced him to Allison.
“As he prepared to shoot his final tape, [Sherry] offered to come over to film Lillyman. The shoot lasted three to four hours, Lillyman said, as [Sherry] continued to offer direction. According to Lillyman, [Sherry] suggested eventually he take off his shirt, flex, and even strip down to his underpants in order to get into character. “He was trying to get me to go further,” said Lillyman. “He kept saying it’s not quite right.” Then, [Sherry] suggested he go into the bathroom and masturbate in order to feel more macho. Reluctantly, Lillyman obliged. He was desperate for the part. Other actors had done more for less, he reasoned. When he emerged, [Sherry] suggested he do it again on camera. It was only the casting director who would see it, Lillyman thought. Again, he did as he was told.”
Consequences
Within 24 hours of the allegations going viral online, Rupaul’s Drag Race released a statement that Sherry Pie would be disqualified and would not appear at the grand finale that was set to be filmed this spring.
This is only the second time in Drag Race history that a contestant has been disqualified, and the previous contestant was disqualified for seeing her partner while filming. Because the allegations came out the day before Sherry’s premier episode was set to air, production was not able to edit her out and her confessionals narrated the episode. After the first few episodes she was almost entirely edited out, to the point that viewers almost forgot she was there.
Sherry released an apology on Facebook the day she was disqualified, but hasn’t been active in the drag community online or in person since.
“This is Joey, I want to start by saying how sorry I am that I caused such trauma and pain and how horribly embarrassed and disgusted I am with myself. I know that the pain and hurt that I have caused will never go away and I know that what I did was wrong and truly cruel. Until being on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I never really understood how much my mental health and taking care of things meant. I learned on that show how important “loving yourself” is and I don’t think I have ever loved myself. I have been seeking help and receiving treatment since coming back to NYC. I truly apologize to everyone I have hurt with my actions. I also want to say how sorry I am to my sisters of season 12 and honestly the whole network and production company. All I can do is change the behavior and that starts with me and doing that work.”
In general, the community has seen the Sherry Pie situation as a wakeup call to predatory behavior within the LGBTQ+ community and sparked discussions about whether the art of drag can be separated from the performer.
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The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe

The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team, Puskás Akadémia FC might seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football. (Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing).
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.

Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM

Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role.
No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team.
Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.

Part 2: No stadium left behind

Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.

Part 3: Small place, big game!

As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league.
Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!

Epilogue: What's in the future?

As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say.
TL,DR
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
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2019 One of the Greatest Miami Dolphins Seasons Ever!

2019 One of the Greatest Miami Dolphins Seasons Ever!
“Whoa! That is a big statement! Winning five games should not be counted as a great season to anyone” I hear you shout at your screens.
But look, these were not just any old 5 wins, in any of the old greatest Miami Dolphins seasons ever discussions!
Ok, ok, excluding the Perfect season and the other Superbowl seasons, those deep Marino led playoff runs and the wildcat season oh and the mighty D seasons of the late 90’s/early 2000’s. The wild cat year? I knew it could not last (it was a gimmick)? Gases 10-6 season? I was duped to be fair. I still stand by the statement “2019 being one of the greatest Miami Dolphins seasons ever”.
Firstly, a little about me. I am from the UK and first started watching the beautiful brutal game way back in 1984. The games were on in the early hours of the morning at 14 years of age, I had to sneak downstairs (we only had one TV in those days) and watch the game of the week on Channel 4 (yes, back then we only had four channels). Watching games with the volume down (so my parents couldn’t hear me), was tough but the excitement and the “violence” was new to me unlike rugby the speed was immense, my eyes darting around the screen trying to locate the ball. Those same eyes came to hate the horrible Mondays in school, where I was falling asleep, but this new game (new to me) with bright colours fanfare and cheerleaders made it all worth it. Getting to watch teams like the Bears, Redskin, Raiders, and 49ers (what was a 49er? I could only imagine some behemoth gold digger with huge hands and gap teeth). English football teams seemed rubbish by comparison, we had the “Blues” “the “Reds” or worse the “Canary’s” or the “Magpies” hardly the type of names to instill fear in your opponents. In those early days, I had not decided on a team to follow, would it be the Lions or Bengals (with the cool, tiger stripes on their helmet) or those New York footballing Giants? I just could not decide but come January 1985, that changed, I “snook” downstairs to watch this thing called a Superbowl, the team in white, a team called the Dolphins v the team in red those behemoth 49ers. As the game progressed, I wanted that team in white to come back and win, sadly, as we all know, that never happened but I felt it was my duty to see if that team in white could win it all next year. After all, they had a “quarterback” named Dan Marino who not only wore no.13, to f**k with the footballing Gods but made throwing the football look magical as well as being supposedly the best young quarterback in football. So, I became a lifelong Dolphin fan, and imagine how my affiliation for this team grew when I found out they had the ONLY perfect season. The year I was born!! I was meant to be a Dolphin fan!
So, back to that great 2019 season, I know some out there have already scoffed at the title and not bothered to read, which is shame because I’m hoping to show everyone why I think it was one of the best ever.
Let us go back to the beginning and relive it together.
New coach, new beginning, haven’t we heard that before? See, being a Dolfan, we were spoilt we had the great Don Shula (RIP) for what seemed like ever and we won consistently with perhaps only the Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, and the Patriots with the same luxury. Yes, occasionally we would drop a 6-10 or 8-8 season but those years we had excuses, an “injury” or we were unlucky against a bad team or two. But after Shula, we fell into the trap of the lower teams the ones not worthy to be in the same sentence as the Dolphins. that trap was inconsistency in the head role, did we love Jimmy Johnson really? (yes, we felt he could win us a Superbowl) but to me he replaced our mini deity. Ok, Shula had some issues like, why, why, why keep Tom Olivadotti around? I had a hard time understanding that (frankly still do), anyway love him or hate him Johnson built a good foundation then buggered off. Dave Wannstedt next, hmmm, even though his tough running program would eventually be good enough for second most wins for a head coach in Dolphins history and our first division title in the 2000s, we just did not have the same feeling for him.
Then it spiraled out of control • Jim Bates • Nick Satan • Cam Camuuurgghhron (thank you Camarillo) • Tony Sparano – RIP • Todd Bowles • Joe “wet lettuce” Philbin • Dan Campbell – My choice for the next full-time head coach, sadly not to be • Adam “Stare through a wall” Gase
A sorry bunch, no wonder we only had two winning seasons with that lot.
After all the “new head coach, new beginnings bullsh*t over the years, forgive me, if I wasn’t waving the flags for this “new beginning”. After all, how many 7-9/8-8 seasons do you have to go through, before you become cynical?
Brian Flores – new coach bringing, a wining attitude and new culture blah blah blah. Win big year one, then disappear like most of the others. I suppose I was happy we had addressed the minority coaching element. Yeah, sure, and he just helped coach that Pats defense in the Superbowl! Again, yeah, OK. Something a little different than all the Offensive minded geniuses that have come and gone over Don Shula express way piqued my interest but I certainly had lost hope that Cowher would come out of retirement, so here we go again.
Preseason woes I understood the jettisoning of older talent. Sorry, I loved Cameron Wake, I liked Kristian Alonso and Kenny Stills, but we needed a fresh start. I liked this approach, I liked the fact we were tearing it down and starting again, for the first time in over 20 years I had some optimism. I knew this coming season would be tough but at last, not the same old “overpay for a couple of names” and hope for the best approach. To be honest, I was thinking, why Stills and not Devante Parker? Weren’t you? Minkah Fitzpatrick, shocked me but hey if you do not like it here, there is the door. Laremy Tunsil? Hmmmm, not sure what is happening, let us see how it all plays out I thought.
When the preseason rolled around and new faces were churning through., I still felt its was a good thing, knew there would be painful things to come and could not understand the media giving Flores a whooping “he’s putting players lives in danger” etc. I wanted to give this guy a chance, we were finally doing something different.
Tank for Tua or Fitzmagic? I never understood the whole tanking notion. No one plays to lose and even if the coaches were coaching to lose, individual players own pride would force them to go against the coaching. I just do not get it!! No one player can change a franchise fortunes, yes, the great ones are instrumental in a franchise’s direction, but you need fifty plus players to play this game (Eighty if your Miami). Quarterbacks do not block for kicks, do not play in a 3 deep cover shells, and rarely catch their own throws. I had seen too many franchise’s push all their chips in, on a number one quarterback draft pick only to flame out and be right back where they were three years later. Was I concerned about our QB situation? Dam right, we had an unproven Josh Rosen and an aging Ryan Fitzpatrick, that could not win over 16 games. My thoughts were Fitzpatrick for 4-6 games and Rosen all the way.
Boy was I wrong.
But still, I liked what we had done, created massive cap space, acquired a sh*t load of draft picks and we would probably end up with the no. 1 pick as well. Bring the hurt, next year’s our year!
Week 1 v Ravens – 0-1 FUGLY is the only word that can be put here. Nothing to be happy about, apart from not being shut out! (I hate it when, we cannot even muster a field goal) Jason Sanders put our first points of the new season up with a 54-yard field goal. Then later some kid wide receiver called Preston Williams, scored a wonderful toe tapping 6-yard TD. The rest of the game, we will just leave behind us shall we.
Not getting shutout felt like a blessing and that undrafted free agent wide receiver showed a little. Come on guys? what did we really expect. We had newly signed offensive lineman and defensive backs playing their first NFL snaps ever! It has been reported since that half the players did not even know each other’s names for heaven’s sake.
Week 2 v Patriots – 0-2 See above but worse!! My pet peeve we did not even get a single score. Come on are we really that bad? Absofudginlutley! Bad, bad, bad game but come on, typically for us, the only game Antonio Brown plays for the Patriots is against us!
102 points given up in two weeks, how is this one of the greatest seasons in Miami history you ask? Well that is all part of it. These lows were low, like snake belly low. Somehow, I felt like this was part of the plan? Was this what tanking for Tua looked like? How would we turn it around? Fitzpatrick was being Fitzpatrick. Rosen, Rosen, Rosen, we chanted in unison. Rosen’s going to come in and light it up, I thought. Yes, massive lows but still I had optimism
Week 3 v Cowboys – 0-3 Another drubbing but signs of some life were showing, Rosen was in, though not great he seemed to be able to handle it, no interceptions even though he like Fitz before him was running for his life most of the time and we also held them to 31 points. Was there improvement? No, not much.
It was around this time the “takes no talent” war cry came into my consciousness. I had seen it all over the years, no more “fail forwards” or copied “winners within” bull, please.
I’d seen it mentioned through the preseason but watching this team I started to hear the “it takes no talent” mentioned where coaches ran with their groups, I saw the early buds of accountability show through, not the fake accountability that Gase talked about. I saw actual accountability DB’s holding their hand up owning blowen assignments, not the pointing fingers, I saw a really bad O line start to fight through to the whistle. Yep, losing felt awful for this storied franchise, especially the way we were losing but I felt this is going somewhere. Didn’t you?
Flores was growing on me.
Week 4 v Chargers – 0-4 Hmmm, liked seeing Walton out there he looked good in his little time on the field, Grant’s good return would have been great if a penalty had not brought it back. As for Rosen, doubts were forming in my mind. Yes, a fairy tale ending would have seeing him doing great things, but his play was erratic, and that interception was UUggllyyyy. On a high note, Parker and Williams were both starting to shine, and it was our second game with only allowing 30 points.
I couldn’t complain, I knew this first month would be tough, but we had a bye week coming and the Redskins were next, I felt we could take the Redskins and get our first win, excitement building, FINS UP.
Week 5 bye week
Week 6 v Redskins - 0-5 Bring it on! This is our week! Two winless teams, my excitement for the “takes no talent” crew against a poor Redskins team was palatable. Then BUMP! Down to earth like a stone, Rosen was like a scared kid, sacked a bunch and those picks. Fitzmagic, Fitzmagic, Fitzmagic! We chanted, oh’ how fickle we fans are. After watching our defense playing its best and Fitz back in the fold, doing his thing we were on the up. Flores deciding to go for two points was gutsy, showing belief in his players and a belief in the “process”. Maybe if we had tied that game with momentum on our side, for sure we would have won. But he went for it all and the skins knew they got away with one.
Week 7 v Buffalo 0-6 Our AFC East rivals always give us a game and we were ready! The excitement that Fitz brought from the previous week was still coursing through my blood with names rising through the ranks like Walton, Williams, Gesicki and Parker on offense and Mcmillan,, Wilkins, Biegel and Charlton on defense things were looking up. I honestly felt good, we were 0 -6 but it was coming together, and our play was improving.
Week 8 v Steelers 0-7 We traded Drake. Walton must be the guy now? The coaches must see something, maybe it was the fumbles for Drake? This season is weird every week there is a new name for the defense and O line and now it seems a new runner. The game: We were winning! Can you believe it! We are out in front against the steel curtain, alright not the “real” steel curtain but you know where I am coming from. It was Fitz v Fitz, their Fitz, our old Fitz won this battle. “tosser” (English for w**ker) with our Fitz throwing two picks, that gives me fits! A weird call from the defense allowing for a Pittsburgh touch down allowed us a great glimpse into Flores mindset. Flores response “We can second guess a lot of calls. I am not going to second guess that one. I thought we had success with the call, and they made a play." Competitive and a true belief into the process. I am really starting to like our coach. 0-7 never felt so good.
You could feel we are ready to start winning, we were close, so close. Watching no names start to play ball, seeing defensive lineman Christin Wilkins in the endzone every time we scored on offense was fun! Watching other teams rejects perform at a high level was infectious! We are doing something that never has been done before, yes there have been tear downs and rebuilds before but nothing on this scale and now we were being competitive too!
Week 9 v FTJ 1-7 The ol’ enemy, why we hate the Jets more than anyone else I’m not quite sure. They have never kept us from the Superbowl’s of the early 90’s like the Bills had and they haven’t dominated the division like the Pats either. I blame Marty Lyons and Jason Klecko for taking the best center in football Dwight Stephenson down. Yes, the Jets, we just do not like em!
What a game, our first win of the season, over the FTJs and one in the all staring eyes of Gase.
With some great plays from Gesicki, Williams (sadly Williams was injured in this game) Beigel and Needham, who for an undrafted free agent that may or may not have made it on to the practice squad in other years has really been improving each week. This was our first complete game and though not perfect we had one in the win column 1-9.
Hearing complaints that the Dolphins were not tanking right (incredulously chuckling to myself while I type this), can you believe it?
Week 10 v Colts - 2-7 8 beers, large bag of bacon crisps (potato chips to you guys) I am all in for this one. After last week’s game, the talk all week, the Indianapolis Colts will bring the Dolphins down to earth and the tank was still on. Where do we begin?
Defense, defense, DEEEE FENCE, with 3 turnovers and a stout end to the game the D kept us in it all day, on one particular interception I found myself shout “YES, PARKER, YES!! Then asking myself “Parker? Who the hells Parker? I had to check that Miami had not done a Gronk special and put Devante Parker out there but another new defensive back Stephen Parker had made a great play in the secondary! That is just how this season is rolling, unknowns stepping up and doing things that “takes no talent” (I use this on my kids now, honestly). I now am in awe of how a 37-year-old QB can move and run and duck and slide go headfirst into defenders. I hold my breath each time, thinking, get up son, get up! And he duly does with his chin strap over eyes and the beard flowing everywhere. This season is now fully infectious (bad choice of words considering the year we are having) but this was last year, and I am loving it!
Two wins, feels like 10. We are competitive, with everyone saying we should not be, everyone apart from Flores who all year talked with belief that they were sticking to the process. THE PROCESS WAS WORKING!
Week 11 v Bills - 2- 8 This game brought us back to an ugly reality, we can win but we are not quite fully there yet. Did any of us really think we would go 3 in row?
The score line seemed remarkably similar to the last game v the Bills, but the stats were not. Fitz threw for over 300 yards and Parker (the Devante one) caught 135 of them. Another player who I feel could do some great things used right, is Jakeem Grant and he showed us that explosive talent with a kick return, which to me is the single most exciting play in football (please don’t replace the kick off NFL) he then added a seven yard TD run as well as three catches. I am loving seeing him in the endzone surrounded by everyone at least a foot taller than him (I’m 5’5) go Grant!!
Week 12 v Browns 2 - 9 The Browns game was a strange game to me, all the euphoria of wining a couple of games and the recent good play seemed to fizzle out a bit in this game and it is the game I least remember. Jarvis Landry makes me cry. He scored two touchdowns against us, but I loved him when he played for us. His energy and physical play were awesome, and I would have loved to see him retire a Dolphin for life, with all the team receiving records but alas it was not meant to be.
Week 13 v Eagles - 3 - 9 Was not looking forward to this game, really needed to see the life return to the team, needed to feel renewed but to be honest I expected a hammering. So, to my surprise a bunch of cast off’s, undrafted free agents, a couple of rookies with just a sprinkle of seasoned vets put a beat down on a recent Superbowl champion, YES!! that’s my Piggin team, right there!! GO FINS!
Fitz played a great game throwing high point balls to Gesicki and Parker all day, along with three TDs. It was also time for the intern, another running back Patrick Laird was proving he could be counted on and finally we saw a glimpse of the old Albert Wilson who has quietly come on late in the season after last year’s injury. Of course, we will never forget the Mountaineer Shot! Haack threw an under-arm throw to the waiting Sanders in the back of the endzone what a play! What a formation! what the hell!! That was audacious! It ranks right up there with the other great Miami’s moments, the Miami Miracle, the Wildcat, the Clock Play, the Sea of Hands and Longest Game, you name em!
Did I mention I was really starting to like our coach!
Week 14 v FTJ - 3 -10 A team that was supposed to flop badly, who had no chance of winning a single game, a team of deadbeat and losers, anyway enough about the Jets. There we were, sitting right there with three big juicy wins. Honestly, at this point in the season, I am more excited for the upcoming game than I had been in years. We had so much to like, an aging QB journeyman, playing some of his best ball in years, a budding superstar at wide receiver, a genuine threat at tight end and a defense playing with “out any talent” and as we already know it “takes no talent”. But with all that said and done, we were coming into the dreaded December! 30 years ago, December was our month, especially at home. Lately it has seemed like December was our Achilles heel. How many times did we need one win in December? How many times where we stood with 7 wins in our pocket only to walk away with those same 7 wins? How many seasons wasted because we panned out in December? I hated December and low and behold, a game we Couda, Shouda Woulda won, we lose by a single point to those stinking Jets.
Week 15 v NY Giants - 3 -11 Staying up north, we faced a NY Giants team that hadn’t done sh*t all year, with a better roster than ours may I add but this was Mannings day and the whole team rallied around him (even though I’m sure he was trying to lose with all those picks) but we just couldn’t get over the “last home game for Manning” hype. I am not too upset about this, after all it was Manning that twice denied Brady & co, let him have this one in lieu of saving the 72-perfect season for us I thought.
Those dreaded December blues were kicking in though. It would have been a shame to flame out like so many teams of the past.
Week 16 v Bengals – 4 - 11 I had ordered pizza in, beers were chilled. I thought no way are we going to lose to the Bungals! (well, I actually prayed we would not lose to the Bungals)
WE WON? WE WON!! In December! yeah! “Ok, calm down, it was against the Bungals”, I can hear you thinking but come on, what a game, the two worst teams put on the best show this Sunday (tanking my backside). We came back from a couple of down weeks and showed that this team, this organization is now different from previous years, there was no “not playing for this coach” or “we’re not good enough” mentality anymore. There is a pick ourselves up and let us keep working attitude and I love that.
Good game from Fitz and his magic with a “big man” TD for Wilkins, yep you read it right, Christian Wilkins the defense end, Wilkins joined William "The Refrigerator" Perry as the only rookie defensive linemen with a touchdown reception in the Super Bowl era (and to see him celebrate was so much fun, love it!). Parker, Gesicki and most of all Albert Wilson who looked exactly like he did before he was injured. Our defense was playing lights out till the 4th quarter. Then we had an implode and I thought, as did all of us “here we go again” but into overtime we managed to get the wining field goal and we galloped away with a sneaky but well deserved win.
As a fan, that game gave you everything you’d want, the thrills of an offense, rolling to its own tune, a defense playing tough, the dreaded completed onside kick and finally on to the field goal to seal the win. Our ““fourth”” win of the season!
Do not forget the fans singing happy birthday that day to the” Jaw” Mr. Shula at the 72 reunion. What a day to be a Fins fan! I was all in, on the “process”.
Week 17 v Patriots – 5 - 11 You want a fair tale ending?
Well alright, I will give you one. Miami beating New England in their own back yard to finish the season 5 – 11 (feels like 11-5). How about them apples! Pats fans. We had not beaten the Patriots at home since 2008 (I do not even know how that is possible)? But yep, this win was the proverbial cherry on top. Our man Fitz led a final drive to take the win and give us all, lots to celebrate A. Our fifth win B. Force the Pats into third place (no home field advantage for later in the playoffs) C. Ruin Tom Brady’s final regular season game, with a little extra help from our very own Mr. Rowe’s early pick six!
Two massive wins in late December and the last one probably the sweetest of them all. Man, what a season, probably one of the greatest in Miami’s history wouldn’t you agree?
How does that make you feel? I feel like, this last season is the turning point for our next decade. Yes, there’s lots variables injuries, trades, rookies not panning out but to think we can win five (could easily been six or seven) with the squad we had. To feel like we finally have some direction. To see players, respond to a coach in the right way, I would say the futures bright, the futures aqua, white, and orange!
Thoughts on the future Brian Flores Have I mentioned I like this guy, we have had enough of the one hit wonders, the, lets all be friends and the downright letdowns at the head coach position, haven’t we? I think, Brian Flores is fair but hard and every report says the players like him, so yeah, he has got four more years and I would like to see those extended after those four years, if we are still trending in the right direction. Am I expecting Superbowl’s? of course I am, I’m a fan but realistically, playoff runs, consistency and an identity would suffice, just some overall stability. Bringing back the glory days, where we are in the conversation come January for a few years, A HOPE, A CHANCE, that is what fans want. A feeling that this could be our year (every year) not having to deal with the December blues, certainly not watching our division rivals every January while we lament another year of what if’s, that is for sure.
Players I would like to see in the Pro-bowl next year
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Hold on, “not Tua?” I here you say. I love Tua and the fact we did not tank and still got him is great. And yes, he could play next year, he’s certainly a more gifted athlete than Fitz but Fitz as something else, the IT factor, I would like to see him get us into the play off hunt, have a final great season and get a Pro-bowl nod then ride off into the sunset.
Matt Breida- Love his speed and it would be great if he became our feature back and puts up Pro-bowl type numbers this year Devante Parker – Well this is obvious; I would love to see him continue and get some recognition
Albert Wilson – I know some people think he’s a bust but when healthy this guy makes plays, I saw so many times, how he would give a move on someone and gain more YAC , don’t sleep on Wilson next year.
Mike Geiciki – See Parker above, he is ready to truly breakout and with more consistency from the QB position, he can make it
Ted Karras – Yes, the center, it would be great! he becomes the leader of our offensive line and it would piss Pats fans off too!
Christian Wilkins – This kid showed enough for me to think he can play up to his draft status and get in
E. Ogbah/ S Lawson – Either of these guys going to the Pro-bowl next year bodes well for our defense
Jerome Baker – He may get lost with all the new linebackers coming in but with his range, it would be great to see him get a ticket too
Kyle Van Noy – The big name at linebacker, I hope he is worth it and plays lights out all year
X Howard/ B Jones – Why not? We could potentially have the best one-two cornerbacks in the league, I would watch the Pro-bowl just to see those two white Dolphins helmets on either side of the field at the same time.
I know realistically not all those guys will get in, but any combination would be great
Players I hope continue to grow on our team
Tua Tagovailoa – Yes it would be great if he starts straight away but see “fits for Pro Bowl” above, I would be happy to see him learn and show up in spot duty giving us glimpse of what he can do and getting us hyped for 2021
Patrick Laird – Our intern, love his speed and elusiveness and it would be great if he became our primary backup to brier (I know we have Jordan) but Jordan has a different running style. Hopefully, Laird can put up decent numbers
Jakeem Grant – Probably my favorite player, please stay healthy & please keep returning kicks for TD’s. I hope Brian Flores and Chan Gailey have some ideas on how to use him in our offense properly, he could be our Tyreek hill with good coaching and the right scheme.
Austin Jackson – I hope this rookie gets it and quick, him and Hunt would be great, if they can play for ten years maybe becoming our new Richmond Webb and Keith Sims combo? Davon Godchaux - I know some of you will be saying he is already established but it would be great if he continues maybe he could be a Pro-bowler this year?
Vince Beigel – I loved this guy’s motor from last year and I really hope he does not lose out on reps with all the new additions at linebacker
Nik Needham – This is another player like Beigel that I’m rooting for, to me, his name was coming up all season (some not great) but most of it solid play and again I hope he doesn’t lose on out reps due to other players that have joined the team.
Erick Rowe – He moved around last year filling in where needed but with a full year at safety it would be great to see him evolve his game to the next level
Come back players Preston Williams – If he can come back and at least be the same player as last year, we can all expect big things from this undrafted player
Bobby McCain – Is he a slot guy or a safety? It would be nice to see him really get his teeth in to one role that would really benefit the team
Andrew Van Ginkel – Was injured for most of the year but managed to comeback late in the season. It will be interesting to see if he can fit and keep a roster space, he did flash at times, so, here is hoping.
Well there you have it, my breakdown of one the greatest seasons in Miami history, a season full of highs and lows, despair, and incredulities. This team showed the media types that they have no idea what goes on under the bonnet of an NFL team.
We as fans, finally had season worth investing in and we should have genuine hope that we have turned the corner. A season, that saw us break records both good and bad, a season that will live long in the memories, lasting longer than any other in recent times.
A 5 -11 season that does not leave us dreading next year but has given us instead, a euphoric sense of pride and anticipation for what next year brings. I for one feel the best about this team since Ricky Williams 1800 yards season! Yes, we have been given hope before only to be let down, but I do not get that sense this time around. Do you?
Thanks for reading.
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