August 13, 2002

James Taranto's Best of the Web has been taking some sportswriters, Keith Olbermann chief among them, to task this week, calling them "ninnies," "sanctimonious, oversensitive weenie[s]," and "tedious." Their collective crime? Objecting to Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden adopting Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer's rallying cry "Let's roll," as his team's motto.

Now, I don't consider myself either sanctimonious or tedious (though I have been known to be a touch oversensitive on occasion), but the idea that Bowden will be calling on Beamer's spirit to spur the Seminoles to convert a third-and-long against Miami seems a bit...unseemly.

Taranto finds ridiculous the idea anybody could have a problem with this, especially now that the Todd Beamer Foundation has given its seal of approval to the Seminoles' use of the motto. While that's interesting, the fact that Lisa Beamer approves of Bowden's use of the phrase doesn't really have any effect on how I see the situation, and it's certainly not the conversation-ender that Taranto perceives it to be.

Ted Williams' son may be trying to freeze his dad in order to sell his DNA later on. The family of Martin Luther King Jr. charges textbook publishers to reproduce his speeches and has licensed the footage of his "I have a dream" speech for a television commercial. Am I equating the "Let's roll" usage with these acts? Not at all. But no matter who owns the rights to Beamer's or King's words, the truth is that they're really owned by all of us (not to get too corny here), or else they wouldn't mean anything at all. While it maintains certain important legal rights regarding usage, the Foundation does not get to decide what the phrase and the courage that inspired it means to any individual.
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