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The Many Fallacies of Bob Reilly

Bob Reilly
(Check the sweater/sport coat combo.  If Cliff Huxtable were white, humorless, and utterly incapable of reason, he’d be this man.)

Tomorrow, June 3, is a big day for those of us who have been following the cause of MMA in New York State, because the State Assembly’s Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee is set to vote on whether to move forward with allowing MMA to be regulated.  The most vocal opponent of our beloved sport is, of course, Assemblyman Bob Reilly.  We’ve attempted to understand the man’s arguments and tried to get him to explain his opposition in a semi-coherent fashion, and all we’ve come away with is a headache and disdain for self-righteous track coaches everywhere. 

But as the vote draws near and Reilly’s moment in the national spotlight comes to a close, it seems as if his reasoning is getting somehow shakier, if you can believe it.  With that in mind, it seems only fitting to recap some of Reilly’s favorite logically unsound arguments, just so we know what we’re up against tomorrow.

Point #1: The violence seen in MMA is damaging to society.
Why it works: Violence begets violence, Reilly says, and MMA is undeniably a violent sport.
Why it doesn’t: While MMA is a violent sport, it’s one of many in popular American culture.  Boxing, hockey, and high school, college, and pro football all lead to more significant injuries and deaths each year than MMA.  There’s no evidence to suggest that the type of violence found in MMA is in any way more harmful to human beings, and it’s statistically less harmful to participants.  If violent sports are, by the virtue of their violent nature, harmful to a society, then boxing should be the first on the list to be outlawed in New York after MMA.  And yet, Reilly advocates no such change.

Point #2: Sanctioning MMA would be hypocritical in light of New York’s attempts to curb domestic violence and bullying in schools.
Why it works: As Reilly is fond of asking, “We legislate bullying and domestic violence all the time, but how can kids tell the difference when they’re seeing it on TV, as a legitimate sport?”
Why it doesn’t: This argument assumes that a) kids are incapable of telling the difference between a sporting contest and an assault, and b) MMA is the only violence on TV that these same kids are exposed to.  If they can’t tell the difference between an MMA bout and beating up a classmate, how can they tell the difference between an episode of “Walker: Texas Ranger” and sucker punching the class spelling bee winner?  MMA accounts for a miniscule portion of the overall violence on TV, and it accounts for a portion that isn’t sensationalized for dramatic effect as in fictional TV shows.  Not to mention, refusing to sanction MMA in New York would have no effect on its availability on TV for New York residents.  Like, at all.

Point #3: MMA events would be economically harmful to New York.
Why it works: Reilly points out that the bulk of the money spent by local residents to attend a UFC event would go back to the Zuffa headquarters in Las Vegas rather than staying in the state economy.
Why it doesn’t: Using this logic, New York would have to prevent any business not headquartered in the state from doing business there in order to prevent money from being “sucked out” of the local economy.  MMA events would actually drive tourism from surrounding states, and all money spent on hotel rooms, cab rides, dinners, drinks –basically anything other than UFC tickets and merchandise bought in the area – would stay in the local economy.

Point #4: Dana White is “a ruthless person.”
Why it works: For better or worse, he kind of is.
Why it doesn’t: The State Legislature’s duty here is to determine whether to allow the sanctioning of mixed martial arts events, not to pass ethical judgment on the president of one single MMA organization.  To ban MMA on these grounds would be similar to banning boxing events because Don King is a corrupt slimeball.  He may be, but the character of one man involved in promoting the sport cannot serve as justification for outlawing the sport itself. 

Point #5: There is “widespread opposition” to MMA in New York.
Why it works: Reilly conducted a poll in his upstate district in which 67% of respondents said they opposed legalizing the sport.
Why it doesn’t: That was one poll, done in one district in which no large-scale MMA event is ever likely to be held.  The UFC drew over 14,000 fans to Newark, New Jersey in 2007, and many of them undoubtedly came from across the river in New York.  UFC pay-per-view events sell at a consistently high rate in New York, according to the UFC’s Marc Ratner.  Reilly’s claim that the public is against MMA is based on a polling sample of 468 respondents, and on purely anecdotal evidence regarding people who he says have approached him “unsolicited.”

Point #6: MMA is the only sport where the intent is to harm one’s opponent.
Why it works: MMA is professional fighting, and the act of fighting is, by definition, the act of willfully harming another person.
Why it doesn’t: MMA is only one type of professional fighting.  Boxing may not specify damage to one’s opponent as a judging criteria (neither does the UFC, btw) but harming the other person to the point of incapacitating them is obviously the most reliable and eagerly rewarded path to victory.  To say MMA alone involves the intent to harm an opponent is intellectually dishonest at best.

Point #7: MMA is akin to dogfighting.
Why it works:
Why it doesn’t: It’s a completely idiotic comparison, made purely for the incendiary value of the analogy.

So there you go, the arguments of Bob Reilly presented for your consideration.  If New York takes the first step toward sanctioning MMA tomorrow in spite of Reilly’s rhetorical funhouse approach to argumentation, it will be because reasonable people have prevailed.


Cagepotato Comments

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ArmFarmer- June 3, 2009 at 6:11 am
People need to youtube Obama and realize that he says and does the same dumbass type of shit that Bush got so much crap for. The guy said he'd visited 57 of Americas states, called an inhaler a breathalizer then corrected himself and called it an inhalator, stumbles over his words, and says uh every other word. He's just another deuchebag politician, nothing special except that he's a different color.
agentsmith- June 3, 2009 at 5:40 am
Donald Trump is a ruthless person, does that mean we should ban the real estate market?
Chri534.- June 3, 2009 at 12:44 am
Wow, I finally read all the posts that preceded mine. I thought that requiring email registration would sift out most of the dumbasses, but apparently not.
Chri534.- June 3, 2009 at 12:25 am
Bob Reilly is fuckin' clown shoes. I guarantee this vote goes through. Aside from the fact that the sport is legal pretty much everywhere else in the U.S. (you wanna start another civil war NY?), everyone important in the discussion seems to be softening up their resistance to the idea. The most telling thing that I saw was Dana's mention of meetings that were going to change the UFC and mma itself. My best guess is him referring to this issue...but then again, maybe he was just contemplating bringing Chuck back to fight in a tag team match for the last fight on his contract.
831 Son- June 2, 2009 at 11:06 pm
Well he acts like an idiot. Thats all that matters.
the glza- June 2, 2009 at 9:16 pm
lol Dante -- that was actually pretty scathing.

Bare you had me until "Don't worry."

i've never spoken to reilly or seen any of his appearances. not even on youtube or whatever. he's inconsequential. mma in new york is inevitable.

i keep thinking "o'reilly" in my mind whenever i see that surname -- but he seems like an old dude who is sincerely concerned with america's cultural slide. he looks at all these damn kids with their saggy jeans, butts hangin all out, with their youtubing tweeters, etc. and the media machine, pumping salacious commercials for everything from burgers to razors as def. something of concern to him and his constituency.

"ultimate fighting" [cringe] is one of those things.

are we sure he's a democrat, or did you just look at wikipedia? anything else confirm that? i might be an idiot, but i didn't see anything on his homepage that dealt with party.

I don't think this is a political issue that divides along party lines, though... most dems and repubs that i know are pretty much all for it.

but i live in florida.
Emo Sux- June 2, 2009 at 8:56 pm
This vato reminds me of Roger Clemens
Dante- June 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm
Bare, save your politics for the Pentagon.
Bare Grappler- June 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm
@ 831 son

Nice work dumbass. You rip on a guy for being a Republican, and proceed to rip on all republicans, while he is actually a stupid fuckin liberal democrat that you vote for. You are the downside of democracy because your vote actually counts as much as mine.

Conservatives (should but, most politicians are idiots) believe in upholding freedom of indiividuals (right to assembly) and not passing judgement on a sport simply because it is not your taste. Don't worry I'm sure Obama will put gas in your car and money in your wollet though. Believe everything MSNBC tells you, fucking idiot.
LukeTheDuke- June 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm
Nice job, Fowlkes.
Keep up the good work.
- LtD
Bob Reilly- June 2, 2009 at 6:33 pm
Hey BF. I read your article and then I spit on my laptop! That'll teach you to promote grown men killing each other for bus fare!
Bob Reilly- June 2, 2009 at 6:29 pm
You're the reason I have to log in to this crap! Way to go, coolguy.
HAL_13- June 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm
Bob Reilly- June 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm
Oh... and HAL you are the worst one!
Bob Reilly- June 2, 2009 at 5:35 pm
Suck my cock! You bunch of human cock fighters!
Salazin- June 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm
Reilly is a democrat, 831.
Marcer- June 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm
Nicely done Fowlkes.
Cathedron- June 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm
I love when people say boxing is safer than MMA. You can win an MMA match without ever striking an opponent. A boxer's intent is ONLY to damage his opponent. You win by doing the most physical damage.

It's the same stupid lies from boxing fans who want to blame MMA for their sport going to shit. Bob Reilly knows he's lying.
831 Son- June 2, 2009 at 4:53 pm
Hahaha that was a good one Dante.

Bob doesnt know a thing, and hes afraid to admit he is wrong. All it takes is one punch to the temple to this faggot and we wouldnt have to hear his incompetence of the subject anymore.

Republicans like this need to die. Obama better stay in office for two terms. Last thing this country needs is someone like Mccain, Bush, Palin and so on to be our "leader."
Dante- June 2, 2009 at 4:43 pm
Bob Reilly is the HAL_13 of politics.
NECROPHYTE- June 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm
He's completely out of touch with reality. Might as well be named "Bill" O'reilly instead of Bob Reilly.
HAL_13- June 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm
llbunbaoll- June 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm
Bob Reilly should tatoo "FAIL" across his head and go jog a lap til he finds his sense, fucking DUMBASS!
Dante- June 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm
This guy is losing his mind.
common sense- June 2, 2009 at 4:18 pm
i guarantee you that this guy gets more correspondence by people who want MMA in the state of NY than by those who dont. I feel like he took the wrong stand and now hes stuck with it, and doesn't want to look stupid. Unfortunately, you cant look much more stupid than he already does.