Skepticism

He Hate Me

I am the LAST person to be interested in sports stories that don’t involve soccer. Especially professional sports stories, since the amount of money they make is obscene compared to the starting salary of a teacher or nurse.

But when I read this woman’s column, I had to make sure you all noticed a strong woman calling someone on their BS. Which, I think, is what Skepchick is all about.

First, an NBA player came out. This was followed by some nasty homophobic comments by a fellow player. And both these events have been followed by an explosion of vitriolic comments in the blogosphere, most of them, unfortunately, praising the asshole who said “I hate gay people…it shouldn’t be in the world or the United States.”

Then, this wonderful editorial. By a woman at ESPN who is clearly a private person just too annoyed to be quiet anymore. And, best of all, she writes in a way any sports fan, no matter how rabid a homophobe, can understand: she talks about athletic professionalism. It’s about the game, and how well you play. Nothing else should come onto the court.

Please read the article–I tried to find quotes from it to use, but gave up because I just liked the whole thing so much.

Amaechi’s coming out has been praised by so many sports players. As someone who works with students, this quote really struck me:

“”It’s hugely important for the kids so they don’t feel alone in the world. We’re role models. We’re adults, and we know we’re not alone but kids don’t know that,” she said.

Thank you, both Mr. Amaechi and Ms. Buckheit, for speaking the truth. And shame on those players and coaches who can’t live with people who are different from them.

bug_girl

Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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19 Comments

  1. Yeah, as a moderate sports fan, I've been following this scandal at a slight distance. I was put off enough by Tim Hardaway's comments to write a blog entry that, while not actually MENTIONING the specific situation, was entirely inspired by it.

    For one thing, and let me make it absolutely, 100% plain: I think what Hardaway said was utterly, utterly idiotic. I had always liked him as a player, and I suppose I still do solely AS a player…but now I disrespect him as a human being.

    And while I disagree entirely with what he said, I am somewhat happy that he said it. Because it was honest. I don't think he needed to go quite so far, but apparently he did. And in an age where people's pure, unfiltered opinions rarely make it to the mass media, he said what he honestly felt. He brought into the open the feelings that many public figures, even our elected representatives, hide with verbal acrobatics. And, in a way, that exposes ALL of those hateful people for what they are: bigots AND liars.

    But the best part, to me, is that this bit of verbal diarrhea on the part of a retired player has attracted a ton of attention to this situation and may very well end up influencing the way these things are dealt with in professional sports. It would be fantastically ironic if another athlete (perhaps a current player) were to come out as a way of supporting Amaechi. But the more likely result is that the NBA will make some changes to its policies on diversity, team play, and harrassment. Perhaps the other leagues will be inspired to do the same. In this way, one idiot's bald, but honest, hatred might just end up causing some good for many athletes afraid to be themselves.

  2. Thanks for linking to Ms. Buckheit's article! You were right not to quote-mine it, since the whole thing is really well written. She deserves some kind of award for inspirational sports writing. If only people like Hardaway were intelligent enough to see the truth in what she has written. Sadly, that is clearly not the case. What an unmitigated jackass!

    We have such a long way to go as a society. Such a long, long way…

  3. If Hardaway had said he hated Europeans or Jews or cripples or white people, he probably would have been universally shunned.

    Mary Buckheit states:

    "While I believe Tim Hardaway's comments were tactless and hurtful, especially because they were stridently directed at me, I still believe them to be permissible."

    We do have Freedom of Speech in this country, so, yeah, one can say anything one likes. I feel, however, if you're a sports figure or a movie star or a politician or any public figure who may be a role model, any statements of intolerance should not be forgiven.

    Expatria said:

    He brought into the open the feelings that many public figures, even our elected representatives, hide with verbal acrobatics. And, in a way, that exposes ALL of those hateful people for what they are: bigots AND liars.

    This is true. We all know how a lot of politicians feel, even though they don't express it directly. It's obvious that G Bush hates gays, and lots of other folks. But if Bush stood up at the podium and said, "Gosh darnit, I really hate gay people," there would be a huge outcry for an apology and (yet more) calls for impeachment.

    Racism is so much more intolerable than homophobia, but why is one form of hate any better than another? Yeah, I know; because "gays chose to be gay."

    On a slightly silver-lined side note, I have to hand it to Shaquille O'neil for defending Amaechi. I've always disliked Shaq, and always considered him pompous and way overrated, but he finally did something that's worth some grudging respect. For now. I'll wait to see if he changes his opinions after he retires.

  4. I totally agree Briarking. Nicely put. Although I think GW would get a pass on saying what he really thinks. Too many people share his bigotry. :(

    BTW, for those wondering, the "he hate me" is in reference to this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Smart
    I didn't know until my husband explained, not being a football follower :)

    One good note: the guy has been booted off the all star team by the NBA. I was surprised and pleased.

  5. As someone who marched for civil rights in the 60s, I've always been deeply disappointed in the bigotry black men have shown towards gay people, but at the same time I've found it difficult to call them on it. To me it has always seemed uncomfortably like the hatred that disenfranchised white people had for blacks. The irony their was that they didn't want to face the fact that they were both being oppressed by the same people. It's harder to make that argument to African Americans vis a vis homosexuals, but you can certainly make the case that one form of hate is no more justifiable than another.

    So, in a way, I'm kind of glad this whole incident happened. Maybe it will be some kind of watershed. Now we are hearing positive statements from prominent, widely respected black athletes like Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley: role models that young black kids look up to. Even Hardaway has said that he is committed to re-examining his feelings, and this quote gives me hope that he is sincere: "As an African-American, I know all too well the negative thoughts and feelings hatred and bigotry cause. I regret and apologize for the statements that I made that have certainly caused the same kinds of feelings and reactions." I think he gets it.

  6. When did hate-speech become permissible?

    I mean, there's nothing less ambiguous than "I hate you" as far as hate-speech goes? right?

    So why has this asshole not been dragged to court yet?

    What's more, from just reading the article, I take it he's still playing on the team and everything? How is that even possible?

    Would he still be on the team (or not have the grass on his front lawn turned into scorched earth) if he had instead said that he hated black people?

    I find this whole thing utterly illogical.

  7. You know, I’m a straight guy. Really straight. really really really almost obsessively.. okay, you get the picture.. but I couldn’t give a rodents’s posterior if anyone, anyone I know, admire, deal with or will never in any way touch with my mind, eyes or voice, was/is gay. It matters not one fig. I just don’t get why it is a big deal to anyone.

    It's interesting that you seem to think your sexuality should matter to us while that of a gay person doesn't matter to you. I'm not trying to criticize you; just making an observation.

    Personally, I like to know the sexuality of the people I interact with on a daily basis because I like to be sensitive to how they might feel about things that I or other people might say. It's not like I go around making gay jokes behind people's backs, but sometimes you do need to be careful about how you phrase things to avoid hurting or offending people. I also think a person's sexuality is an important part of who they are. It's not that gay people or straight people are all the same, but knowing someone's sexual orientation can usually give you some insight into their personality. I also don't think it's something anyone should have to hide.

  8. That’s because you’re not an American, Exarch. Things are different here.

    And yes, he would still be playing if he had said something about race. There are plenty of baseball and football players who have done so.

  9. You know, I’m a straight guy. Really straight. really really really almost obsessively.. okay, you get the picture.. but I couldn’t give a rodents’s posterior if anyone, anyone I know, admire, deal with or will never in any way touch with my mind, eyes or voice, was/is gay. It matters not one fig. I just don’t get why it is a big deal to anyone..

  10. Actually, not that it makes too much difference, but the player who said those things (Tim Hardaway) is actually already retired. He was also banned from participating in the NBA’s All-Star weekend these last few days, despite originally being involved in it. So it wasn’t as if his actions had no repercussions.

    However, were he an active player, at most he would have been suspended for a few games. Most likely, however, he would have been forced to pay a fine and attend some kind of diversity training course. As bug_girl said, athletes have been subjected to that sort of treatment for racist remarks in the past, so I’m sure anti-homosexual remarks would fit the same bill. Not a very large price to pay for opening one’s mouth and sounding like a jackass.

    Now, I personally don’t think he SHOULD be dragged to court. I’m 100% for free speech and don’t think that someone should be disallowed from saying awful things. Especially when most of the reaction has been very heavily AGAINST what he’s said. I think it’s a wonderful thing when someone says something so wrong and is then shunned for it, without involving courts and the law and what have you.

    The only time I’d be against that is if he were guilty of slander or libel. However, as he just stated his stupid, stone-age opinion of homosexual people in general, he violated neither law. At worst we’re talking defamation, for which he probably COULD be prosecuted, but it’s less likely as he was not referring to any one person directly.

    I guess my opinion is a very American one, so I can understand if it seems too permissive to the Europeans reading (or even some of the Americans!) I’d just prefer living in a society where, sure, I can say whatever I want in the eyes of the law, but where the court of public opinion determines the punishment for my idiocy, not the government.

  11. exarch, I hope you don't honestly believe that!!!

    I may not be living in my less-than-stellar home country at the moment, but when I left it in September people were still allowed to go on TV or in the newspapers and say that they hate the president. I'd have no fear of doing so, at least. As awful and Orwellian as this regime has been, they haven't quite sunk to THAT level yet.

    Which is, of course, not to say that they WOULDN'T, given the chance :-P

  12. re:
    “…It’s interesting that you seem to think your sexuality should matter to us while that of a gay person doesn’t matter to you. I’m not trying to criticize you; just making an observation…”

    Meh…. Buck, look, I didn’t come here to argue. Common sense says you should’t say things that offend people or are offensive to people whether or NOT you know their sexuality.. If knowing someone is gay keeps you from saying things then it implies you would say them if you knew they were straight..

    I merely (in what I thought was a funny way) painted myself for anyone reading my comment so I didn’t come off as the standard gay rights activist who is just being preachy.

  13. Common sense says you should’t say things that offend people or are offensive to people whether or NOT you know their sexuality.

    Ah, good old common sense. ;-)

    I don’t agree. Sometimes guys say things to each other, based on their common experience of having relationships with women, for example, that are offensive to gay guys. I don’t know whether you realize it or not, but one thing gay people get really tired of is people assuming that they’re straight. Now, I could just avoid ever making those kinds of comments to anyone, but I choose not to. I’d rather know who I’m dealing with than to have to walk around on eggshells all the time. In most cases you can tell what category someone is in. You can tell if someone is black, hispanic, female, left handed and just about everything else, but you can’t always tell if someone is gay, so I appreciate it when they come out to me. It also shows a certain level of trust and respect when they do so.

  14. Good to hear, exarch. I didn't THINK you were being truthful, but in my travels on 'teh intrawebs' I've encountered quite a few people who DO believe that it's already that bad in the States. I'm all for calling a spade a spade in terms of this administrations absurdity, but don't see the need to make their already incredible abuse of power any more extensive. :)

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