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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Taking exception to the level of your offense

Saturday, June 11, 2011

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.


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Randy,

You're right in saying that all hate speech is wrong and should be penalized equally. But your little rant here is saying that prioritizing against certain types of hate speech is making one group of people more important than others is a little off target.

Like you, I think all hate speech is out of bounds. However, there are times that certain types of hate speech are more inflammatory than others. Right now heterosexism is a huge problem in our country. It's escalated to the point that young people in the GLBT community are faced with bullying, violence and abuse more than ever before. We are constantly hearing news stories about someone committing suicide, being beaten or even killed because of heterosexist attitudes.

When young people look up their idols, such as basketball stars, they should not see someone who promotes hateful intolerance of any type. But when those idols promote the type of hateful intolerance that is leading to a very violent social response such as those I've mentioned, it becomes even worse.

It's awful to speak hatefully about anybody. And it is worse, still, to speak hatefully about somebody when you're a public figure...especially when your hate speech is directed at those who are subjected to regular violent threat.

Before you post opinions like this, Randy, it would be wise for you to consider how those who espouse anti-gay sentiments (of which there are many...too many...in Spencer) will use your logic to justify their actions.

-- Posted by IAtransplant on Sat, Jun 11, 2011, at 3:10 PM


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Randy Cauthron
One Man's Perspective