Tag: Texans

Jesus, Save Me From Your Followers!


The Houston Press’s Jef Rouner, speaking as a parent, tells it like it is:

This is the scenario people opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance want me to believe is going to happen: my little girl, all pink eyeglasses, blond curls, and a sass level over 9,000, will need to use a public restroom at the park or a restaurant. Once in there she will be at the mercy of a transwoman, maybe even one with a penis, who will use the rights protected by HERO to… what? Pee within a certain amount of feet from her? Expose herself? Molest her? What diabolical she-penis monstrosity has the City unleashed on our powerless womenfolk?

I’ve got to tell you I know a fair amount of trans folks, and the idea of any of them in the bathroom with my daughter scares me way less than the thought of someone who honestly holds these beliefs being in there with her does.

I’ve got to tell you I know a fair amount of trans folks, and the idea of any of them in the bathroom with my daughter scares me way less than the thought of someone who honestly holds these beliefs being in there with her does.

First of all, let’s get something out of the way that shouldn’t need saying: exposing yourself to people in public, physically molesting or assaulting them, and raping them, will still be illegal with HERO. Whether the perpetrator is another child, a 60-year-old grandmother, or a trans person is irrelevant.

Second, I researched HERO extensively last year in a cover story for the Houston Press, and among the many things I found out in my investigation was that lists of trans people caught abusing similar ordinances to expose themselves in public were generally bullshit. Most lists are compiled by the Family Research Council and then spread through the media by regular Fox correspondent Todd Starnes without any apparent fact-checking. Equal rights ordinances that include protection for gender identity do not lead to any verifiable uptick of sex crimes involving women and bathrooms. They just don’t.

Rouner notes that anti-HERO gender-policing might make it harder for parents to help their children in public restrooms, and further notes that gender-policing is often used to harass cis-gender people as well:

Second, and this is the one that bothers me the most, what’s to stop those same absolutists from endangering my wife and daughter? I mean, if someone is dead set on keeping penises out of the female restroom and there’s no inherent legal protection in place for gender identity (note: cis is also a gender identity) what’s to stop that person from demanding my wife, or even my daughter, prove she doesn’t have a penis? Yes, my wife and daughter are both very girly-girls that fit nicely into the presumed feminine ideal of the American mindset, but so do lots of transwomen. Since the whole idea behind the fear is that dicks are infiltrating “undercover”, presumably all it would take is some yokel’s reasonable doubt to end up with the women I love searched for their secret perverted attack dongs. Don’t think for a second this doesn’t already happen.

Given the choice between an imaginary wave of trans predators or an empowered lot of bigots using the law to police gender and gender identity at their whim, I know which one I feel safer sending my kid into. She’ll need HERO in her future far more than she’ll need outdated fear-mongering. One day she may be pregnant, or a veteran, or disabled, or hopefully old, and HERO looks out for all those people. Who do opponents of HERO look out for? The sort of folk that feel they have a right to judge where you can go by your genitals. As far as I’m concerned that makes them as trustworthy as witch-hunters stripping women to search for the devil’s mark, and I prefer those people as far from me and mine as possible.

As Rouner’s citations make clear – when equal-rights protections are put into place, this doesn’t cause men to “dress up” so that they can “infiltrate” bathrooms. Austin, which has a trans-inclusive public accommodations law, has never had a problem with it. Nationally, there are exactly zero cases of this.

But, when you empower bigots, things can get ugly. In addition to the Detroit case that Rouner cites, there was of course the infamous Astrodome incident, this case in Mississippi, and this personal story.

Because cisgender and non-transgender-non-gender-conforming women are so often targeted by errant transphobia, it is obvious that any self-described feminist or LGBT ally who would oppose HERO is a special kind of stupid.

The thing is, none of this humiliating gender-policing would be legal even if Proposition 1 fails to pass. It’s the flip-side of the argument ( Rouner made earlier) that it will still be illegal to harass people in bathrooms even if you let transgender people pee.

But I think Jef Rouner does make a good point, although it’s as much subtext-as-text. To wit: the HERO debate is largely about power. Specifically, the power of transphobes and the religious right to dictate the terms of social behavior.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the mentality of anti-HERO big-wigs like Steve Hotze, who projects his totalitarian fantasies onto his opponents:

“Just like there was a communist manifesto, there’s a homosexual manifesto,” Hotze said. “The hackles will stand up on the back of your neck when you see what they have planned.”

Copies of the manifesto were sitting on every seat in the audience, although the copies Hotze distributed omitted the first line of the original, which establishes the text as a “cruel fantasy.” The “manifesto” is a satirical essay, originally written in 1987, a strange and hilarious imagining of a world in which gay men reign as oppressors over lowly straights.

“Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding,” reads one line. “All churches who condemn us will be closed. Our only gods are handsome young men. We adhere to a cult of beauty,” the manifesto continues, concluding after many paragraphs: “Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.” A legally required disclosure immediately beneath Hotze’s version reads “Reprinted and Paid for by Campaign For Texas Families PAC.”

He’s not the only one. Witness the freak-out last year when sermons (speeches which are intended to be preached to the whole world and are not exactly “private”) were subpoenaed:

  • From Andy Woods — “The recent actions of the Houston city government surrounding its passage and protection of HERO (‘Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’) borders on what one would expect of a third world banana republic dictatorship rather than what we would expect to find in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
  • Mollie Hemingway — “totalitarianism of extremist wings of the gay rights movement.”
  • Kathy Howard — “So let’s just call this thing what it is. Christian persecution. Right here in the good ‘ole USA. Right here in the Lone Star State.”

And look how, in this current campaign, the antis are claiming that HERO constitutes “religious persecution” when in fact the ordinance would protect religion:

  • Charles Blain — “There is no doubt the mayor will use any political capital left during her term’s remaining six months to campaign hard to ensure that voters uphold HERO and her practice of religious persecution.”
  • Dave Wilson — “It was not rooted in eternal law and natural law. They circumvented the will of the people, refused to let people vote, violated the First Amendment, threatened our religious freedom, refused to follow man’s law and they violated God’s law.”
  • Ed Young — “Those of us who believe men should use men’s facilities and women should use women’s facilities—we will be discriminated against.”

Look at their own words! The opponents of Proposition One are terribly, terribly afraid of losing power — of being “persecuted” or “oppressed” or “discriminated against” — even though the law they are opposing expressly prohibits religious bias! One must conclude that either they have, collectively, lost their minds, or that what they are really saying is that they feel entitled to hold a monopoly on power, and cannot fathom having to share it with others.

Do you really want people like that, people so entitled and yet so insecure, to win this election? And do you think, if they win, that they won’t feel empowered – nay, obligated! – to leverage their newly-vindicated grip on power?

To be sure, I do not think that these folks will “go gently into the night” if HERO passes. I think they will obstruct and whine and pout. They will probably try to get the Supreme Court of Texas to throw it out, again (they do have a pretty good track record in court; it helps when the judges are politically-beholden to you).

Nevertheless, having a majority of Houston voters, on record, opposing them, ought to take a little bit of the wind out of their sails. And that, really, would be in everyone’s best interests.

On a related note, Bob McNair has walked back his donation to Campaign For Houston (the anti-HERO group). So we can go back to resenting him only for the incompetence of the Texans. Thanks a lot, Bob!


Do Nice Guys Finish Last — Even In The God-Awful AFC South?

Earlier in the week I opined that Houston Texans owner (and right-wing sugar daddy) Bob McNair was not wrong in passing over the Ray Rice opportunity. I gave several arguments, one of which was that hiring someone who was in the middle of a domestic-violence controversy would be wrong on “principle.”

John Nova Lomax (formerly of the Houston Press and now writing for Texas Monthly) writes (I am paraphrasing loosely here) “to hell with your principles“:

To their credit, I guess, Texans brass are aware of the team’s irrelevance and ineptitude, as head coach Bill O’Brien famously said on HBO’s behind-the-scenes reality show Hard Knocks this summer:

Let’s be honest with each other. This place has no respect in the league, just so you guys are all aware of that. This organization is 96-126. [Actually, it was 90-122 at the time and is now 91-126.] Thirty games below .500. Turn your TV on. Nobody talks about the Houston Texans because nobody thinks we’re gonna win. And the disrespect that they show our quarterbacks? I’m tired of that, too. Because both those kids can play. They just need a chance and one of them is going to get it. Enough is enough. Every player that is out there — all 90 players — are players that I want for the 2015 season. When you f—— guys show up to practice tomorrow, they better be ready to f—— go.

Stirring words, indeed. And about half of them true, right up until he started talking about how both Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer could play winning football at this level. So even the head coach acknowledges that the Texans are woeful, pitiful, forgettable. But why do the Texans, who sell out every single-game in their football-mad mid-major market, continue to perennially stink?

Well, there is one statistic in which the Texans lead the NFL. Unfortunately, this tally is not chalked up on the field.

The Texans lead the league in players not getting arrested. Only one Texan has been arrested over the last five years, and that player (rookie Brandon Ivory) was an undrafted free agent who never even made it to his first Texans training camp, because he was cut from the team a few days after his arrest for first-degree burglary charges in Alabama.

This is no accident. The choirboy Texans are very much the deliberate creation of owner Bob McNair and his braintrust.

Three years ago, McNair and general manager Rick Smith were riding high on the hog. As November rolled into December 2012, the Texans were coming off two overtime victories in five days and sported the NFL’s best record at 10-1.  Back then, McNair and Smith were keen evangelize the world with their message that Leo Durocher had been wrong. Nice guys didn’t always finish last.

McNair said there were three types of guys who were “unacceptable” as Texans draft picks: Those with a pattern of domestic violence (“People who do that are just a bully. Bullies are usually not courageous when they’re facing someone as strong as they are”); substance abusers (“That can become a habit, and they might bring that habit with them. I’m not talking about someone who smoked marijuana. I’m talking about a persistent user of drugs. We take them off the list”); and guys with no respect for authority (“We have a very strong chain of command. Our coaches don’t want to have a debate with a player every time they tell him to do something”).


All of which is well and good if you are staffing an operating room, investment bank, or air traffic control tower, but the NFL is none of those things. The NFL is insane. These guys risk paralysis, crippled knees, and debilitating brain injuries play after play, year after year. Every player in the league knows they are potentially one violent collision away from being wheeled off on a cart and breathing through a tube for the rest of their life, that all those helmet-to-helmet hits might one day in the not-too-distant future leave them unable to recognize their wives and children.

How many well-adjusted young men want to risk that? Yes, the fact the Texans are able to stock a full roster every year shows that there are some, but as losing seasons plague the Texans, it appears ever more apparent that their policy of passing up the troubled (who are often also the hungriest) players is simply not working. That maybe cranky old Leo Durocher had been right after all.

This is not to say that the Texans should be out there trying to spring Aaron Hernandez and slot him in at tight end, or that they should dust off Ray Rice and line him up behind Mallett and Hoyer. But think about it: Former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor enthusiastically waved most of McNair’s red flags through his whole career, and yet to call him a game-changing player sells him short. He didn’t just alter individual games, but the very way defensive football was played across the entire sport.

To boil down JNL’s argument to its core: character does not contribute to value in professional football in the same way that it does in other professions; and by privileging it above other concerns, the Houston Texans are fundamentally failing to measure the value of their prospects.

One thing that I am surprised that JNL did not mention is the effect that college football programs plays here. It is trite to note that college football is essentially the minor league for the NFL (albeit one dependent upon undercompensated labor). When college football programs invest in and reward players (and coaches!) who don’t respect the rules, their classmates (particularly women) and sometime, the law — then a disproportionate amount of the potential recruits for a professional football team are going to have “character” issues. This leaves owners like McNair scrambling to hire the best of a bad bunch.

One issue that JNL does point out, albeit obliquely, is that “troubled” players are often the “hungriest.” To flesh this out : players who have always had success on-and-off-the-field have a sense of complacency that tends to prevent them from achieving true NFL excellence. Case-in-point for this would be RG III.

Lomax notes in his article the comparison that John McClain made (and Whitney Mercilus re-tweeted) between the Astros and the Texans. It’s not entirely clear what McClain’s point was in making the comparison, but a reasonable sports fan might point out that the Astros have done exceptionally well in part because they have embraced the Gospel of Moneyball. Jeff Luhnow’s passion for analytics is exceeded only by Dork Elvis himself.

If the Astros and the Rockets can both put decent teams on the field by using cold statistical logic, then the Texans might want to consider doing the same. Although Bill Belichick is definitely evil, his keen grasp of football analytics is probably a better explanation for the Patriots’ success than spying and ball-tampering.

When Bill O’Brien (a member of Bellichik’s coaching tree) was brought on as headcoach, the expectation generally was that he would follow these analytical methods. While some of the draft picks of late have been inspired, the game-day evidence heretofore has not been overly-encouraging.

In the final analysis, I can forgive the Texans organization for caring about “character,” even if it is pointless. I will not forgive them, however, if they remain skeptical of analytical methods that other teams are already using to crush the Texans.

Bob McNair is Not a Bad NFL Owner for Refusing To Hire Ray Rice

The Houston Press complains that Bob McNair isn’t a micromanaging jackass like Jerry Jones:

No owner in the history of Houston sports has accomplished less with his franchise than Bob McNair. Yet no owner in the history of Houston sports is less criticized than McNair. Who cares if his teams don’t win? It’s not McNair’s fault. He saved football in Houston. He puts smart people in charge of the team. He leaves them alone.

But in 14 seasons, McNair’s Texans have won just 89 games against 124 losses. There are only two playoff seasons, only four winning seasons in those 14 seasons. Can you imagine the treatment Bud Adams would have received from the Houston media if the Oilers had accomplished so little? The Oilers wouldn’t be praised as the ideal model. The Oilers would be mocked as a train wreck run by an owner concerned only with making money. There’d be no praise for passing on players with troubled backgrounds; instead, there’d be loud criticism for Adams being willing to stick with unproven players like Alfred Blue instead of taking a chance on a proven veteran like Ray Rice.

There are several reasons why Bob McNair shouldn’t be blamed for this. First, hiring a known wife-beater is offensive on principle (at least when it comes to professional sports). Second, Ray Rice is getting old (for a running back). Third, letting Rick Smith manage things is the smart thing to do. There is probably a solid case to fire Rick Smith, but if you’re not going to pull that trigger, then don’t point.

So no, Bob McNair is not a bad NFL owner for failing to hire Ray Rice.

Bob McNair is a bad NFL owner for backing the anti-HERO campaign.

This is not just a rumor; it was confirmed to the Houston Chronicle by Jared Woodfill.

Bob McNair and Lance Berkman can kiss my ass.


Astros clinch AL Wild Card berth. Hallelujer!


The Astros lost 5-3 to the Diamondbacks in Game No. 162 at Chase Field but nonetheless clinched Houston’s first postseason berth since 2005 and the 10th in franchise history by virtue of the Rangers’ 9-2 win over the Angels.

Even in clinching an American League West title that looked for so long like it should belong to the Astros, the Rangers did not entirely wrong their in-state rivals. The Angels were the only team that could catch the Angels in the Wild Card race.

The Astros end their regular season at 86-76, a 16-win improvement from a year ago. On Tuesday, they’ll take on the Yankees at 7:08 p.m. at Yankee Stadium in the one-game wild card playoff that sends the winner into the American League Division Series against the league’s defending champion, the Royals.

Getting to taste the sweet, sweet postseason for the first time in 10 years is almost sufficient to make me forget about what a travesty the Houston Texans are this year:

In the postgame news conference, he was short with his answers, and succinct in his self-criticism, hardly allowing any room for discussion of his theory that he was mostly responsible for the 48-21 shellacking.

“Terrible coaching,” O’Brien said. “(I’ve) gotta do a better job, gotta figure out what I can do better to be a better head coach of this team.”

“It starts with me. It’s a bad job of head coaching today.”

No need to argue with him about that.