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.