March 2, 2024

You might remember Holden Armenta. He was a then-nine-year-old who came to an NFL game with one half of his face painted black and the other painted red while wearing a Native American headdress (see the picture above), because he was a fan of Super Bowl contenders the Kansas City Chiefs.

(Also, you might have heard that Taylor Swift was dating Travis Kelcie who plays for the team, although that is not terribly relevant here.)

Here’s video of Armenta enjoying the game:

And, of course, this triggered Carron J. Phillips of Deadspin who ran an article accusing this nine-year-old boy of wearing ‘blackface,’ while showing a picture that deceptively only showed him in profile so you couldn’t see that only half of this nine-year-old’s face was painted black. We previously dragged Phillips and Deadspin for picking on this nine-year-old, and even reported when that nine-year-old child and his parents threatened to file suit.

Now, we learn that they have carried through on that threat to sue to protect the reputation of this nine-year-old boy:

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Did we mention that the boy is only nine years old? We are being facetious of course, but our point in emphasizing it so much is because it really is the original sin with this entire controversy. Even if this child was acting racist as heck (and we think he wasn’t acting racist at all), he’s nine years old and he shouldn’t be put on blast this way. If Phillips felt the need to complain about the situation, he shouldn’t have used any image or video of the kid in the first place. A description would have sufficed.

Frankly, this author debated whether to mention this kid name at all or to show his picture, but Deadspin has unfortunately made him famous and this piece is unlikely to contribute to make him more so. Further, this article defends the kid, which is a different moral calculus. We think it is worthwhile that if someone Googled ‘Holden Armenta’ that they might find this piece where we defend the kid.

And we should point out that we draw a distinction between a non-black person wearing black paint on your face—even if it covers their entire face—and wearing ‘blackface.’ The distinction in our minds is a matter of intent. If you wear the stuff to try to pass yourself off as either a black person or looking like a black person, as former Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam did, that is blackface. (Northam admitted in a press conference that he used shoe polish on his face to help him look like Michael Jackson, clearing up any question of whether or not he had worn blackface.) But if you are presenting it as just as paint that happens to be black, like this kid was plainly doing, then that is not blackface. Indeed, we have read the complaint and it makes exactly the same argument about the definition of blackface, citing Webster’s Dictionary as a source.

Having read the complaint, we think they’ve got a good chance of winning and getting massive damages. First, the law firm is the same one that sued Fox News on behalf of Dominion. How did that go for Fox News? Second, we think the complaint is plainly sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss and the facts alleged largely make Deadspin and Phillips look absolutely terrible. For instance, Phillips also claimed that wearing the Native American headdress was racist against Native Americans. But allegedly the kid is Native American, which means that even if you buy into the essentially racist theory of cultural appropriation, the kid is allowed to wear it. And once again, they are doing this to a nine-year-old kid. The jury is likely to be absolutely furious at Deadspin and Phillips over this.

Indeed, the complaint alleges that Deadspin threatened the family with some kind of counterclaim and holy crap that is very questionable lawyering. This isn’t legal advice, but if this author represented Deadspin, we would urge them to pretty much disappear the article, offer to write a complete mea culpa piece if the family wants it at the same Internet address the original article was at (they might prefer them never to mention it again), as well as offering a substantial settlement that admits they were wrong and offers some money to boot. And we would suggest that Deadspin ask themselves if they want to keep Phillips on staff when he exercised such terrible judgment—perhaps using a promise to fire Phillips as a way to save money on the settlement. Reportedly firing Tucker Carlson was part of the Fox News settlement. Otherwise, Deadspin looks likely to suffer a loss they are going to have trouble surviving.

The cut off text reads:

The firm representing the Armentas won a $786M media defamation lawsuit last year.

… against Fox News. He’s leaving out that the firm won against Fox News. We are not too happy about the outcome of that suit, but we shouldn’t leave out unpleasant facts.

It makes more sense than the recent Trump defamation judgment.

We’re pretty sure that’s a reference to Elizabeth Warren and Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Heh.

Well-illustrated.

We would be hard pressed to imagine any scenario where it makes sense to attack a nine-year-old kid in that manner for behavior that isn’t actually criminal. And we suspect the truth is that the reporter was predisposed to see bigotry everywhere.

Actually, we suspect they should settle it loudly, being willing to be very vocal in explaining how they screwed up. Being willing to suffer that humiliation might make the family willing to settle for a lower dollar amount. It’s what we would be likely to tell them.

Finally, Native Patriot says he has created a fundraiser to get Armenta to the Super Bowl. We can’t vouch for it, but you might look into it and consider donating:

Then again, if Armenta does well in this suit, next time he might be able to buy box seats. Maybe he could hang out with Taylor Swift? Jokes aside, he seems like a cool kid who literally didn’t deserve any of this.

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