Friday, October 26, 2012

Negro Please.

Loudmouth gasbag Stephen A. Smith, the human equivalent of a root canal, set off a minor Twitter controversy this morning when he let an "n word" slip on  air during a "debate" on televised train wreck First Take. This is not a big deal. At all. However, some self-righteous media analysts such as Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead and fat piece of crap Jason Whitlock are trying to turn this into an example of ESPN protecting one of their most popular (albeit inexplicably popular) employees. McIntyre (and others) have compared this to ESPN's handling of the Jeremy Lin "chink in the armor" controversy during the last NBA season. The stark difference between that instance and what Stephen A. said is the possibility of racism. There's no way in a million years that you could suggest Smith saying "nigga please" to another black man while talking about Kobe Bryant could be construed as racist. If Skip Bayless had said to this same guy "nigga please" or "I'm sorry, nigger, you don't know what you're talking about", this would be both unsurprising and grounds for firing. I have no doubt that Bayless refers to LeBron as "that N word" as soon as the cameras are off. Stephen A. is not Skip Bayless. He's a black man who often speaks in colloquial terms on the radio and television. That a "nigga please" might slip while he's on television is neither surprising nor offensive. If the word "nigga" (note the lack of an "er") is that offensive to you, you have definitely not spent any time around actual black or hispanic people. As much as White people and conservative critics like to complain about this being a double standard, I'm sorry but that's just one thing you will have to deal with. The "Chink in the armor" headline, while easily explained away as an innocuous turn of phrase that has been used hundreds of times in ESPN headlines, can also without a doubt be construed as racist. Especially when taking into account the fact that nearly every ESPN headline deals in double entendre or pun. Those headlines aren't just taken out of thin air. An ESPN intern doesn't go into the "headline" folder in the database and choose the most appropriate one. Someone sat there, thought about the different aspects of that Knicks Hornets game in February at the height (or I guess peak) of Linsanity and decided to use the most popular racial slur for Chinese people. Let's take a look at today's front page headlines (and unlike some other times, I did not make these up):

Cardinals ink David Frees to a new contract: FREESE FRAME
A look back at David Stern's tenure as NBA commisioner: STERN REVIEW
Patriots Tight Ends Hernandez and Patrick Chung will miss Sunday's game: IN A TIGHT SPOT

See what I mean? Like most newspapers,  blogs and websites, puns and double meaning are common in headlines. Maybe the poor sap who got canned because of his poor choice of words really didn't mean anything by it (he was really sorry, and eventually went to lunch with Lin who forgave him), but the point is there's a chance that those words could've been construed as hateful. There is no chance at all that Stephen A. was trying to be hateful. If you think what he said is in itself offensive, that's fine, but it's equivalent to an anchor letting "fuck" slip on the air. Words are only as hurtful as their interpretations and intentions. If Jason Whitlock is that offended by this word, I wonder how he somehow got through the 5 times that he watched the Wire in it's enitrety without sobbing. (The man's Twitter avatar has been Omar for a while). This is the same guy who once blamed Soulja Boy in a roundabout way for an NFL player's murder. In a quest to seem unbiased against his own race (an anti Al Sharpton) he instead uses every chance he gets to criticize black people and their way of speaking. I'm the last person to ever defend Stephen A. Smith, ESPN or especially First Take, but people need to get off their high horses this time. If you want to talk about racism, let's not try to find some where there isn't any. Jason Whitlock? There's never been a more appropriate time to say "nigga, please".

No comments:

Post a Comment