Reggie Rivers

You may have heard about the recent column in the Denver Post equating military service with slavery. If you haven’t the column, called KEEP OUR SLAVES SAFE, I can sum it up in one word:


Not that there aren’t important issues that need to be addressed. But the whole argument about our poor, poor soldiers who never wanted to actually fight a war but just wanted money for college is just plain lost on me.

(Tip: Don’t comment or email and try to convince me otherwise. I have long since made my mind up about this issue, and nothing I’ve heard in the past year has even dented my conviction. Call me closed-minded if it makes you feel better. I’m also close-minded about the idea that the world is not flat.)

The column was written by Reggie Rivers, who at one time played running back for the Denver Broncos. Here’s the opening

Our military is one of the last bastions of slavery in the United States. At the moment, our slaves are stuck in a combat zone, getting killed and maimed, and there’s nothing they can do about it except hunker down and pray.

Yes, our slaves signed up of their own free will, but most of them were as misled about their job as the rest of us were about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And I don’t think “slave” is too strong a word to describe someone who is not permitted to quit his job no matter how dangerous it becomes or how much he hates it. For most of us, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and guaranteed that we have the right to withhold our labor. It doesn’t protect soldiers.

Ah. So a US soldier in a combat zone doesn’t have the same rights as the teenager in the Orange Julius at the mall? Weird.

Random Nuclear Strikes asks Is their ANY validity at all to this guys argument that I’m missing?

I don’t think so.

Rivers also takes the downloadable first-person shooter AMERICA’S ARMY to task as a “brainwashing” recruiting tool:

The U.S. Army has an official video game that can be downloaded at It’s a recruiting tool aimed to win the hearts and minds of children of all ages. The goal is catch them before they develop critical thinking skills that might lead them to question the wisdom of volunteering for slavery.

The site’s FAQ section includes this encouragement for parents: “In elementary school kids learn about the actions of the Continental Army that won our freedoms under George Washington. Today, they need to know that the Army is engaged around the world to defeat terrorist forces bent on the destruction of America and our freedoms.”

Parents are further assured that the brainwashing of their kids will be conducted without undue exposure to the horrific reality of warfare. “The game does not include any dismemberment or disfigurement. When a soldier is killed, that soldier simply falls to the ground and is no longer part of the on-going mission.”

So Rivers thinks that the game would be better if it reproduced the blood and gore of an actual battlefield? All the better to scare kids away from voluntary slavery? Probably not, but it might be okay if we also show some nudity. Or something. (I’m not really sure what the point of that last linked column was…)

I haven’t read enough of Rivers’ stuff to really have an informed opinion. But I hope he writes better than he did in this most recent column. And I hope he writes better than he rushed the football.


Sure, soldiers give up a lot of rights when they sign on. But calling them slaves is just plain silly. And an insult to those that were or are actually slaves.

UPDATE:More from Balckfive, Pool of Thought, Sgt. Hook, and Badlilocks.

And did Rivers conciously intend to time this column to coincide with Memorial Day? Even if he was right, WHICH HE FUCKING WELL ISN’T, why would he choose to go head-to-head with the day we memorialize those soldiers, sailors, and airmen that have fallen? I’m willing to entertain arguments that it’s because he’s stupid, but that doesn’t answer the question of his editors greenlighting it.


  1. Calling them slaves is not ‘just plain silly’ as you state at the end of your post. It’s a serious slap in the face to the vast majority of armed service folks who would disagree with Reggie. My disgust for him and his disrespect for the members of the armed forces (disrespect he showed by claiming to know more about their service than they do) grew with each line of his that I read.

  2. There’s not a hint of intelligence in Rivers’ latest screed. None. However, the point (and he did have one) in the 2001 piece seems valid to me. If you get past his readily apparent utopian/peace-nick attitude, and pay attention only to the comparison he draws in that article, it’s hard to argue with. In fact, reading that article in a vacuum, one might be hard-pressed to come to the conclusion that Rivers isn’t as stupid as subsequent work makes evident.

  3. I wrote a rebutal to this trash column and after trying 9 times to send it to his e-mail, I finally gave up. My copy to the editor went through but was not printed. Many from Jennifer Martinez’s blog ‘A collection of thoughts’ also wrote, as of this afternoon, there was nothing printed in the ‘Letters’ column or the letters to the editor, and I still can’t get through to Rivers e-mai

  4. The column is a public show of why his career as a radio talk-show host has gone downhill. His slide in the ratings has been more gradual than, say, Air Americas’, but I can only stand him for a few minutes at a time. Obviously many others have felt the same. BTW, Reggies (and others) columns sort of make sense if you begin with the following premise: ‘Liberalism has developed into a mental disorder’.

  5. Even knowing Reggies’ views as a talk show host, this column upset me more than I thought. I need to add this to my previous comments. Reggie has been sliding into oblivion, and like most libs will sacrifice anything and anyone (including the United State and those who defend it) to be noticed. This is just his latest stunt of many recent ones as he scrambles and claws his way back up. He’s not above spitting in the faces of our brave soldiers, or standing on the bodies of those who have fallen just to be noticed for another week or two. He’s looking for attention, and to my disgust, I’m sure even our local conservative talk shows will give to him next week. What a dispicable little girly boy he is.

  6. It a good thing the author of this piece that disagrees with Reggie Rivers column admits he is ‘closed-minded’ because that about sums him up. Thankfully we live in a country that allows for different points of view.

  7. I am reservist soldier who is about to be sent to Iraq for the third time, despite the fact that my time is up and my term of service should have expired three months ago. Rivers is right; I am a slave due to the Bush administration’s stop-loss order. If you don’t know what that is, look it up.

  8. I am a veteran of the first Gulf War. A soldier, sailor or airman cannot get out of service once he signs up. Yes, it is a contract but it seems that the military is the only group that cannot renegotiate a contract. In essence, you are a slave.

  9. HOLY CRAP! Are you people kidding? Let us military men and women take a trip down memory lane. We all signed up. That is, we all voluntarily signed up. Some did our homework when it came to understanding all facets of what was involved, other signed up rather than do something else like going to jail or get a civilian job (which requires more effort that signing your name to a contract). The statement made by Paul in that it ‘seems that the military is the only group that cannot re-negotiate a contract’ begs the question, in what way would he re-negotiate? Because he makes the statement that ‘in essence, you are a slave’ I have to assume by re-negotiation he would end it completely. True or not Paul? What would you re-negotiate if not to get out when you wanted to? Honestly, the military is the easy way out. Only when the rubber meets the road do you actually realize what you got yourself into. As it becomes apparent the road is a hard one…boo friggin’ hoo, you want out. Renegotiate my ass. You knew what it was going to be like…if you didn’t, shame on you. When I signed up, I wanted to go to school. The GI Bill was for me. Even as a reservist in the USMC I got money for school and was going to make a life for myself. And I did. I graduated back in Decemeber 2001 with a business degree. In 2003 I was called up for active duty. Time for me to go to the dance in the desert. Did I balk and say not for me I got my eduation screw you? No, this whole time I was going to school I knew what my role was. I knew that being in the friggin’ Armed Forces of the United States of America may at some point might require me to go someplace I didn’t really feel like going. What did I do? I went as was requested. And do you know what? I too was held under the stop-loss program. The program developed to ensure operational readiness. The program implimented to ensure experience leads the way. What is the purpose and function of the Armed Forces? To fight, plain and simple. Not to provide you with an education. Not to provide you the opportunity to see the world. Not to give you adequate job skills to make it in society when you get out. Those are excellent by-products but that’s all they are. If you’re ignorant enough to get lured in for those reasons then yes, I can see how you think not allowing you to get out rather than doing what you told my country you would do (remember your Oath of Enlistment) is slavery in nature. But you already know that this is your mind set and not the truth! Suck it up. Semper Fi!

  10. I see no strong validity in your attack on Reggie Rivers. You have nothing to back up your claims and throw out assaults without any support. When you have to bring up something so unrelated to the subject at hand as his football career then I see no intelligence in you as a writer. Take the oppurtunity to go onto a college campus and observe this first hand. Watch the recruiters. the first thing they talk about is how much money they have and what they were able to do with it because of the lack of expenses. Right after that or even before they tell you how the military will pay for your tuition. How can the word slave not come to mind when a gentlemen, who went into the military straight out of high school breaks his leg while in the military, but can not enroll in classes because they will not allow it? It’s easy to make accusations, especially ones as blatant and ignorant as yours when you have nothing to back up your rebuttle.

  11. i have to say something about this… for one, i do believe that if you read up on Reggie Rivers (type into a search engine) you would find that he was raised in a fully AIR FORCE household and most of his siblings are or have been in the AIR FORCE. secondly, his column is purely opinion. his job is to raise controversy and if you think about it, he got a reaction out of you, did he not? therefore he is doing his job. plus, the freedoms that you are fighting for in the military include the first amendment to the constitution. you know the one that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press? so he is just stating his opinion and raising controversy. if you dont like it, then you have just as much right to say so as he does to say that the military is a form of slavery. his opinion is just that: an opinion. i just had to say something.