America’s Entitlement Problem

Posted July 9, 2014

My high school basketball coach used to say that he hated “entitlement bulls#@t.”

I’m not so sure he was using the word appropriately then, but he may have been warning us about the future.

While our team expected to win, it was because we worked hard and put in the time to constantly improve and get better. We didn’t think things should just be handed to us. However,  the entitlement my coach worried about seems to have become as much of an American calling card as “I Believe That We Will Win.”

As a country, we certainly believe that we deserve… whatever we want.

We simply just don’t always want to put the work in to obtain whatever it is we hope for.

Some people have attributed this to the growing cultural desire for immense wealth, while others have claimed that entitlement is sexual in nature. Whatever the case may be, the cultural sense of entitlement is beginning to reach maddeningly comic levels.

Yesterday, Andrew Robert Rector, a Yankee fan who recently became semi-famous for being caught napping on camera during a Red Sox-Yankees game, filed a $10 million lawsuit for defamation of character.

Take a second to re-read that statement.

TEN MILLION DOLLARS!!!

The guy falls asleep during a game, gets caught on camera (when every fan knows there are cameras filming the audience), and then sues because announcers talked about it. How do we live in a world where this is allowed? Why would lawyer Valentine Okwara even take this case? It’s the clearest example of a money grab that you could possibly invent.

How have we gotten to this place where people search for the slightest opportunity to just take something they want but don’t deserve? How have we come to believe that we can have things without doing any work for them?

Let’s look at the specifics (Check out the video of the comments in question)  In the 4th inning, Rector is caught napping and the commentators make an initial joke that he wouldn’t know how good the MLB’s streaming TV service is because he would sleep through it. Former player John Kruk then comments about how uncomfortable the position Rector is sleeping in appears and guesses that he’ll wake up with neck problems. The conversation continues into a discussion of whether the man eating chicken fingers to Rector’s left is a friend who is just letting him sleep and whether Rector had slept through an earlier home run by Yankee outfielder Carlos Beltran.

That’s it. That’s the extent of the criticism. All of it fully warranted in my book and none of it really doing anything other than questioning how Rector could have fallen asleep when surrounded by so much noise and with his ass planted in an uncomfortable chair.

What’s even more appalling is that the submitted complaint asserts that the announcers insinuated that Rector was “a fatty cow that need two seats at all time and represents symbol of failure.” 

How the hell do we make that jump? The complaint actually asserts that the announcers used words that “include but [are] not limited to ‘stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid’ knowing and intending the same to be heard and listened to by millions of people all over the world …”

Those words are never said. Listen to the video again. Never mentioned. Whether Rector and his lawyers are projecting or not is up for debate, but they are absolutely suing and legally asserting things that aren’t true.

The complaint goes on to say that the “verbal assault” on Rector also “insinuated that the plaintiff is an individual that knows neither history nor understood the beauty or rivalry between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.”

Let’s put aside the fact that the announcers never mentioned anything about him not understanding the significance of the rivalry. How would claiming he didn’t be worth $10 million?

How is making fun of anybody, in however public a forum, worth $10 million dollars? If I had known that being made fun of in public was grounds for earning millions of dollars, I would have been an incredibly rich middle school student.

Major League Baseball needs to make this complaint as public as possible. Let the world see the type of selfish stupidity that Rector embodies. Let everybody openly judge him now that he’s put himself out there to be judged.

This is the slippery slope that we’re headed down as a culture. If we believe that we are owed wealth and happiness because we are human beings, if we believe that we can obtain things without working for them, then more Rector’s are going to come out of the woodworks. People are going to stop working to make this country a better, more innovative place to live, and simply hope that they can luck into a pay day.

So, please, put Andrew Rector under the microscope and examine the problem he has come to identify. I don’t think anybody will find that he has enough character to be worth $10 in defamation let alone $10 million.