Editor’s note: The following is a response to Dave Zirin’s "Re-reply to Prof Lawrence Lessig: Where Does Change Actually Come From?"
[Dave Zirin has replied to my response. This issue about strategy is critical and important. Let me try one more time.]
Still missing the point. Let me try, Mr. @EdgeofSports, one last time. This time with a sports metaphor:
Imagine you’re a player with the Chicago Bears. You’re on the field, about to begin a game with the Green Bay Packers. Just before kick-off, someone races onto the field screaming: "Guys, please, can’t we all just get along? Enough of this fighting. Let’s just shake hands and go get a beer."
I am not that guy, Dave. That’s not my argument (now stated again and again and again). Instead, I’m the guy saying something like: "Hey, Bears and Packers: Can we have a conversation about whether a tackler should be allowed to use his helmet when making a tackle?" Or translated for the non-sports-readers (which, before my friend Mark Snyderman gave me these examples, I, too, would have been), I’m the guy saying: we need to have a conversation about the rules of the game, because they are not working for any of us.
Or once again: Imagine you’re the pitcher for the Boston Red Sox (as most of the kids (boys and girls) where I come from do, at least once a day). You’re on the pitching mound, about to throw against the Yankees’ star batter. You look up, and some guy is flying a plane pulling a banner that says: "Look, I know some of us are Sox fans, and others of us are Yankees fans, but we’re all baseball fans. Let’s just stop all this fighting, link arms, and learn to work together."
I am not that idiot either, Dave. Instead, and again, I am your teammate (no doubt, I’d be in the dugout and you’d be pitching, but still), asking whether it might make sense to sit down with the Yankees (and others in our league) and rethink the instant replay rule. Baseball, I believe, should be governed by honest umpires, not HD cameras.
In both cases, I’m the guy saying we should think about the rules. I’m not trying to say we should dampen the competitive passion of our own team. Or deny the justice in our own cause. Or to betray our own objectives. But competition happens on a field; that field is governed by rules; those rules only get changed if everyone (or at least the 99%) on the field agrees. So I think we need to find a way to talk to the 99% — Liberals, Conservatives, Moderates, Libertarians — about whether and how those rules should be changed.
Now as crazy as it is to race onto a football field and urge a kumbayah moment, or to buzz Fenway Park to urge inter-team love, it is just as crazy to label as disloyal a team member who is arguing that we need to sit down to talk about the rules of the game. It may be disloyal to argue that you shouldn’t fight hard against the other team. It is likely stupid, as a coach, to start a game with a lecture about how decent and hard working the other side is. But it is neither stupid nor disloyal to push for a respectful conversation with the other side when you believe the rules of the game are not working — for you and for the other side.