Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why are we even surprised anymore?

I’m smack dab in the middle of a moral conundrum. I believe very strongly in the First Amendment, in the Freedom of Speech it provides to every American citizen, regardless of the vitriolic, hatemongering things they may have to say to us.

I do not agree with what Tim Hardaway had to say. But I would fight to the death to protect his right to say it. There's a reason that this country is still considered to be at the forefront of the personal rights debate, and why a Democracy is thought (by most) to be the most advanced form of government the human race has ever conjured up. There's a reason that the creationists in the great state of Kansas are the laughingstock of the scientific community, and there's a reason that they just don't care. So excuse me if I take a few minutes and use one idiot’s personal image suicide to climb up on my soap box and preach.

Personally, I am unbelievably sick of the moral arbiters in this country telling me what I am and am not allowed to say. If I decide that I am against a certain topic, be it White People, Black People, Asian People, Native Americans, the Inuits, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Muslims, Homosexuals, Heterosexuals, Kids, Middle Aged People, the Elderly, or all of the above, I have the right to say so. You might not like it, and if so, then stop listening. Very simple. What I actually believe, though unimportant to this argument, is that everyone lives their lives the way they feel is right. Period. I may not like it, it may not be the way I live my life, but I have no problem with what you do. I’ll go my way, you go yours, and we’ll all live happily ever after.

That’s the problem we have run into with this particular example – Hardaway made a very public statement, and rather than report it and then ignore it as just complete ignorance, the mainstream media (and bloggers like me) have picked up the story and run with it. Within hours of the “news” breaking, there were fifty different opinions on the web, on the radio, on the TV, and on their way into newsprint for the early editions.

Why can’t we just let this die? Just let Hardaway ride off into the career ending sunset alongside John Rocker, Nick the Greek, and Fuzzy Zoeller. Everyone under the sun has already heard the rant, formed an opinion, and come down on the side of “He’s right” or “He’s wrong”. No one stopped to think about the other side: “Who the hell cares?”

Most people in America tend to lean towards the median on political arguments. On all but a few issues, the majority of us tend to take a “wait and see” approach – in fact, maybe the better term is “lean towards apathy”. I know that if a particular issue does not affect me directly, I tend to lose interest rather quickly.

So again, I ask – Who really cares what Tim Hardaway thinks about gay people and the state of gay rights in America? Is Tim Hardaway running for a political office? Is he about to have a hand in the shaping of the laws that govern our country? Is there any chance in hell that somewhere, some Congressman or Congresswoman is listening to the Dan LeBetard show, thinking to themselves “Ya know, this Hardaway guy is right. I’ve had it backwards all along! I should do everything possible to limit the ‘gay influence’ on the country. I’m going right back to DC and voting against every gay rights bill that comes across my desk.”

Perhaps the most important question here is this: Why are we surprised? Why are we all standing here, mouths agape, wondering how a – gasp! – professional athlete could possibly put his foot so far down his own throat? I mean, we all look up to pro athletes – they’re supposed to be so much better than us in every possible way – how could one ever harbor such politically incorrect views?

At this point, we should just expect pro athletes to open mouth, insert foot at least once in their short time in the limelight. These people are coached (poor choice of words, sorry) from infancy until adulthood, and then beyond, to believe that they are the apex of humanity. That they are the best at what they do, they are infallible. That nothing they could say or do could ever be wrong – everyone they interact with has always agreed with them in everything they have done, why would the public be any different?

Then one of them opens their mouth on air, and suddenly the entire American population is subjected to a few weeks of “sensitivity training”.

I give up. Everyone just say what comes to mind. Say what you feel. Just remember – you have complete Freedom of Speech in America

…As long as nothing you have to say offends anyone else, anywhere, anytime.


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At 10:10 AM, Blogger Brian in Oxford said...

Don't forget the classic testament to sensitivity,

"Nuke the unborn baby gay whales"

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Dan Mega said...

Just out of curiousity, why are people constantly bringing up creationists and religious types when discussing the stupid things Hardaway said? I don't recall him saying he hated gays because of the Bible. To just assume they automatically relate is uninformed.

In any case I was wondering when you'd update your blog again D. Get a new shirt!

At 6:16 AM, Blogger mark said...

Nice take on it. I kind of agree. Me, I just want this topic to be over so I can stop being The Gay Guy, and go back to merely being the gay guy.

But an answer for this:

Just out of curiousity, why are people constantly bringing up creationists and religious types when discussing the stupid things Hardaway said? I don't recall him saying he hated gays because of the Bible. To just assume they automatically relate is uninformed.

It's funny you mention it: I was just talking about this with some people elsewhere. The topic of religion is almost invariably brought up by the homophobes first. I think the conclusion here was that there are certain people on the farthest right who only ever hear about homosexuality in religious terms, and therefore they can only think or talk about it that way.

Not everyone who thinks like this is merely misguided: for some, it's a deliberate rhetorical move to instantly make the debate ridiculous. Start with the wild non-sequitur, "Isn't it awful that it's not okay to be anti-gay but it is okay to be anti-Christian." The response, "But no one even brought up Christianity!" or even "What about all those gay Christians?" doesn't seem to do any good, because by then a certain chunk of the audience is already nodding, "those terrible anti-Christian gay-attack-force secret-agenda anti-American Fascist bastards!" And as a result, before I've even opened my mouth they assume I spend my evenings laughing diabolically and burning crucifixes.


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