Are we really at a point in the national political discourse when an image of a sports team’s mascot holding a “Police Lives Matter” sign is cause for an outpouring of outrage on social media platforms?

Of course we are!

First up, here’s the photo that had certain individuals hyperventilating over the weekend:

fredbird

That’s Fredbird, mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals and according to Deadspin, it was photographed holding that sign at an “event hosted by the St. Louis Police department.”

You see, according to Deadspin, that sign is “crypto-racist”:

(Here’s where some of you are going to say, “What, police lives don’t matter?” To which all we can say is, “Cut the shit.” Of course police lives matter, but used as a direct retort to the non-controversial idea that black lives matter, the phrase is an at best crypto-racist way of dismissing legitimate anger about police violence in black communities.)

And having Fredbird hold that sign makes the cops equal to the KKK:

It seems like getting Fredbird to an event is a pretty painless process. If you are in the St. Louis area and you are looking to book a special guest to attend your next Klan rally or pro-ISIS book club, please consider Fredbird. You could probably even get him to hold up a “Bush Did 9/11” sign.

Except Deadspin is wrong about the circumstances behind the photo and the “St. Louis Police department” had nothing to do with it.

Here’s the real story from the St. Louis Post Dispatch (emphasis ours):

Hinting that any defense of the Cardinals would be “crypto-racist,” Deadspin went on to say they emailed the Cardinals to ask what was required to get Fredbird to attend an event.

What they didn’t do, apparently, was email anyone to ask about the actual circumstances surrounding that specific photo.

The picture was taken at the ballpark during Sunday’s game, and not at an event sponsored by a police association.

Ron Watermon, vice president of communications, said in a statement:

“A man and a woman stopped Fredbird to request a quick photograph. While the man was taking the picture, the woman standing next to Fredbird asked him to hold up the sign. Fredbird was unaware of the content of the sign.”

“On Monday, the photograph was posted to the Facebook page of St. Louis Police Officers Association with the woman cropped out of the image.

“When the Cardinals became aware of the photograph on Tuesday, we asked our friends at the police association to take it down, and they graciously accommodated our request.”

Watermon said that Fredbird’s aim “is to make fans happy,” and not be involved in any type of political activity. He said the club is looking at ways to make sure such incidents don’t happen again.

As of the writing of this post, Deadspin has not corrected its original report.

What’s probably worse, however, is that it’s even an issue in the first place:

“Scrutinized.” “Controversy.” “Under fire.” Why can’t Fredbird hold that sign at a event hosted by police officers?

***