We live in an age in which a fundamental right of individuals to never be offended has apparently been ratified. It remains unclear to me by whom and on the basis of what authority this right has been granted, but there’s little doubt that it now exists.
Personally, I don’t subscribe to the use of this dubious privilege and wish that my point of view was more widely held, but I’m wise enough to recognize that the genie is completely out of the bottle on this one.
That said, I find it troubling that it seems that this newly identified right may only be exercised in certain situations, rather than applied universally.
Last Thursday night, I was watching the NCAA basketball tournament “March Madness” pre-game show on CBS when expert analyst, Doug Gottlieb, well and truly stuck his foot, not just in his mouth, but all the way down his throat.
Describing his inaugural appearance on the pre-game show, Gottlieb intoned, “Cream rising to the crop. I don’t know why you guys asked me, I’m just here to bring diversity to the set here. Give the kind of white man’s perspective on things from the point guard position.”
Understandably, double-takes and uncomfortable shifting in chairs was evident from all four of his colleagues on the broadcast, all of whom happened to be black. Obviously, it was an incredibly stupid thing to say, not to mention an assault on grammar and the English language. At best, it was an extremely lame attempt to make a joke which fell harder and faster than the proverbial lead balloon.
I sat in front of my television dumb-founded and somewhat slack jawed at what I had just witnessed, knowing full well that this segment would soon become grist for every sports columnist and main stream media talking head desperately searching for the next controversial nugget to feed to the voracious 24-hour news cycle.
I was not disappointed. Articles, commentaries, and news stories roundly criticizing Gottlieb have been appearing unabated since Thursday. At least one sport’s commentator called for his immediate firing from CBS. To his credit, Gottlieb admitted his mistake and issued an apology. “It was not a smart thing to say and I apologize.”
Let’s go back for a moment to our culture’s “Thou shalt never be offended” precept. I’ve always believed that if a rule, or even a guideline, is to be effective – it must be universally and consistently applied. Hold that thought for a moment, if you will.
On Thursday morning, the same day on which Gottlieb verbalized the faux pas heard round the world, the sport’s website SBNation, published an article on the ending of the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak which was entitled, “White people celebrate Heat loss in exceedingly white fashion”
The article included a photograph of white male fans celebrating the Chicago Bulls’ victory over the Heat which was captioned, “White people in their natural habitat.”
The article was rife with derogatory references to these fans. Here’s a few quotes from the article:
“This guy is pretty white, I guess.”
“…white dudes had courtside seats (because white people looooooove courtside seats) ”
“Just two white guys, enjoying each others’ company, wearing their finest Cherokee-brand shirts.”
“Never change, white people. You are a GOLD MINE.”
I’m still waiting for someone in the media to express righteous indignation at these characterizations of white basketball fans or to demand that the author of this article be dismissed.
At the moment, those voices appear to have been drowned out by the sound of crickets chirping.
Enjoy the rest of “March Madness” and have a blessed Easter.
Photos from rawstory.com and newsbusters.org