By Jonathan Danielson
A few days ago, the National Rifle Association agreed to sponsor a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. In exchange for their corporate dollars, the Texas 500 would be renamed the NRA 500, which seems like a perfectly natural pairing. It’s already a TMS tradition to give a rifle to the pole winner, and a pair of revolvers to the first driver to pass under the checkered flag. It’s sort of like peanut butter meeting jelly, or cheese with wine, or maybe more appropriately, pickup trucks with country music.
But then just as fast as news of the partnership broke, Anti-Second Amendment advocates such as Piers Morgan, and Agenda Project founder, Erica Payne, expressed their outrage at NASCAR and the Texas 500’s new namesake. How dare NASCAR allow a legally operating organization to use its own name for an event it sponsored with its own money.
As mentioned in the headline, Morgan and Payne (I assume) probably don’t watch NASCAR, probably aren’t members of the NRA, and therefore their delicate and offended sensibilities really have no legs to stand on. The NRA is a legal organization, which advocates legal ownership of Constitutionally protected items. A vast population of the NRA’s target audience are allegedly NASCAR fans, and a considerable amount of both demographics reside in Texas, home of the newly crowned NRA 500. This isn’t politics, it’s just good marketing.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand where Morgan and Payne’s outrage stems from. Personally, I hate the Los Angeles Lakers. I despise them, and I think their continued ability to spend above and beyond the salary cap to buy whomever they chose is bad for basketball, bad for the NBA, and bad for small market teams who are pilfered of their talent like farm teams in baseball. I would love nothing more than to see the Lakers outlawed, but the simple fact is they aren’t; they’ve broken no laws, and what they do has been deemed perfectly legal by the David-Stern-powers-that-be.
So as that stands, if the Lakers wanted to tie their name to products which they think would connect with their fan base, then they have every right to do so. If all of a sudden the Lakers wanted to be branded with gangs, bail bonds, and Hollywood rehab clinics, then that’s their right.
Just like personal injury lawyers and Proctor & Gamble have the right to air their commercials during daytime television, or how Girls Gone Wild had the right to sell their DVD’s on Comedy Central at one in the morning before they filed for Chapter 11, the NRA has the right to buy the name of a car race, and market that race and their product to their most likely customers. All of these companies are legal entities, except maybe Joe Francis, and no one has any proper standing to be offended if any of them, except again maybe Joe Francis, try to market their company and legal product (except, again, Joe Francis).
Whether you agree or not with what a company sells, the NRA is just that; another company, and like all companies, they’re just trying to sell their product. If you aren’t buying, that’s fine, but go find a real issue to be offended about.