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Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2016

Taking exception to the level of your offense

Posted Friday, June 10, 2011, at 4:07 PM

I'm curious what makes one slur worse than another?

I'm going to throw this out on my blog for discussion as well, for those of you who won't write a letter to the editor because it would require you to reveal your secret identity. I really want you to weigh in and help me understand the varying levels that are apparently associated with slurs.

Lets go back in time a couple of months.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant used an anti-gay slur when commenting in anger toward an official during an NBA game. He was fined $100,000 for the hurtful words.

Not too long after that, also during an NBA game, Chicago Bulls court presence Joakim Noah was tagged with a $50,000 bill from the league for a similar outburst directed at a fan in the stands.

So let me get this straight. Bryant uses the derogatory term toward a paid official in the heat of the game, and Noah uses a similar phrase toward a reportedly obnoxious paying fan and only gets half the fine.

As a fan that certainly doesn't set well with me, and while it creates an issue with regard to the NBA's skewed priorities, it poses an even bigger question in my mind: Why is that phrase worse than any other phrase which portrays anti-anything?

What if the anti-gay phrase spewed by the two NBA players had been replaced with a phrase slamming someone obese, or someone with a disease, or someone of a certain skin pigmentation? I'm not saying there wouldn't be a fine - I'm sure the league would come up with something to help keep the cash flow coming at the home office - but would it have been as much? I'm guessing not.

Bullying is bullying. Abusive language is abusive language. What makes one term more inflammatory than another?

Comedian Tracy Morgan, known for his characters on "Saturday Night Live," his role on the NBC comedy "30 Rock" and various movie roles, has always been pretty outrageous. At a recent stand-up performance in Nashville, Tenn., Morgan went off on a tangent about homosexuality in general - even to the point of suggesting he would kill his own son if he manifested gay tendencies. And as you might expect, people are calling for his head for the verbal outburst.

Now Morgan has done racial comedy, mocking a variety of ethnic stereotypes, and there has been no outcry, but these comments seem to have really stirred the pot.

What if he had been mocking fat people or maybe ugly people? Would the world have cared as much?

I'm in no way trying to justify the use of the hateful banter. But I think weighing hateful banter is prejudicial in its very nature. It's suggesting one particular group's feelings are more important than another groups.

Hate is hate. Mockery is mockery.

Let's keep that in mind before we open our mouths.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Randy, you set up quite a strawman there. First you claim to not understand the distinction between verbal abuse of an official and verbal abuse of a fan. The official is there to officiate the game, and as such his authority must be maintained. To maintain that authority the NBA sent a message that it is not OK to verbally abuse the refs (not that I am in any way condoning verbal abuse of fans or anyone). You then go on to "guess" that the fine would not be as high if some other epithet had been used. You guess? That is the basis of your rant here today, a guess? Do you have any evidence to back up your guess? You certainly did knock down that strawman rather easily. As for Morgan, since I have never found anything he does to be funny I cannot directly speak to his act and how he mocks others. But, unless he ever said that he would kill his son if he showed "white tendencies" or if he showed, "fat tendencies" or "ugly tendencies", etc, then there is not much comparison here either. Mocking a group for humor and suggesting that you would kill you own child do not quite fall into the same category. This entire rant is rather shameful, even for you.

-- Posted by DaveMunson on Sat, Jun 11, 2011, at 8:49 AM

Are you forgetting Michael Richards. His was not a gay slur and they hung him out to dry. There have been offensive comments made about races, fat people, gays. I think America has become soft. Everyone wants to cry because someone said something bad to them. I'm gay and I could care less was Kobe, Joakim, or Tracy want to say. They are only hurting themselves by saying slanderous things.

-- Posted by joev on Thu, Jun 16, 2011, at 2:24 PM

Joev, thanks for your input on this issue. My real point here, is rather than sitting around putting weight on which hurtful term is the most offensive, perhaps people should choose to take a little more control over the words that come out of their mouth. It's wise for people to think before they speak and take others into consideration when it comes to unhealthy and misguided biases and prejudices which most often result from personal ignorance.

-- Posted by randy cauthron on Tue, Aug 2, 2011, at 11:37 AM

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A Little to the Right
By Randy M. Cauthron
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Randy Cauthron is the managing editor of the Daily Reporter. He has been with the paper since 2003 and has worked in the newspaper business since 1993. Randy enjoys entertainment and sports. He has wife, Leah and six children living in Spencer. Randy enjoys sharing his opinion on everything from entertainment, pop culture, politics and sports.
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