Thursday, February 15, 2007

On the other hand

John Amaechi is just being dumb when he tells ESPN (publishers of his book) that Tim Hardaway's remarks threaten people.
One man has made hundreds of thousands of people now feel uncomfortable, unsafe, feel they should hide and run. What he has done has made life more difficult, perhaps more dangerous, for people in society, not just in sports. His views embolden those who hold the same views. When he depersonalizes it, it's not just a foolish comment. It's a foolish comment that echoes around the country. People will feel under pressure, like they are under attack. They will feel anxious. They will know there's a face and a voice for all those people out there who hate them.
Please. That a retired basketball player has that much power, to make "hundreds of thousands of people now feel uncomfortable, unsafe, feel they should hide and run" -- isn't even worthy of a response. And who, exactly, is "feel[ing] anxious"? I would say "this is only the reaction of Nervous Nellies," but there may be homophobia in that metaphor.

I'll tell you what, I'm gonna drive out to Dupont Circle tonight and see if I can find some of these hundreds of thousands running away from the threat of Tim Hardaway. Or maybe I can drive out to rural Virginia or some other suitably "Deliverance-ready" place and look for these secret homophobes, now feeling emboldened by the fact an ex-basketball player has given them a voice by saying he hates homos too (and is being punished by the league for it, rightly or wrongly).

Look ... as I said below, of course, the Hardaway remarks are stupid and vile. Sins. But have some perspective about actual consequences. If the gay groups and Amaechis of the world would just denounce Hardaway and move on, it would be easier to see that this is a pebble in the ocean. A vile pebble. But a pebble. Gene Wojciechowski said it best on the ESPN site:
This is all playing out so predictably. Former NBA center declares he's gay. Past and present NBA players declare indifference. One former NBA player, in this case, Hardaway, declares his outrage and hatred. Hey, just like real life. ... Hardaway's comments will be reviled and praised. Gay rights advocates will issue angry, impassioned statements condemning the remarks. Gay bashers will rejoice. And then all the noise will dissolve and we'll watch the NBA All-Star Game this Sunday. This isn't meant to dismiss what Hardaway said. It was a vile, reprehensible display of ignorance, but it isn't anything new. Hardaway simply gave his prejudice a name and a face for a news cycle or two. His bigotry, as well as his apology, will be forgotten, as it should be.
And, to my surprise, given what I've seen on ESPN itself (more on that below), there was another good comment on the sports network's Web site, from Chris Broussard:
Since Amaechi came out, I've read lots of columns [with] ... the implication -- or outright assertion -- is that anyone who believes homosexuality is wrong is not progressive or enlightened.
That's where this thing becomes problematic, because those who hold to that view are saying I must change my entire belief system/religion because of your belief system.
Where's the diversity in that?
Those folks don't want diversity. They want everyone to agree with their "enlightened" opinion.
Exactly. We're now at the point where you cannot express any reservation whatsoever about homosexuality or any expression of it, without being denounced as stupid, ignorant and worse. Everyone must step in line with the gay agenda and like everything about homosexuality. Even liking the chance of getting your ass grabbed. Not like that? Well, you're ignorant. Think I'm exaggerating? Before the Hardaway comment happened, but after the Amaechi book was being reported on, I saw Michael Wilbon on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption denounce 76ers player Shavlik Randolph in the harshest terms (and the bug-eyed look on his face and contempt dripping off his voice were positively frightening) for saying:
As long as you don't bring your gayness on me, I'm fine.
His teammate Steven Hunter said something similar:
As long as he don't make any advances toward me, I'm fine with it. As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself as a good person, I'd be fine with it.
Wilbon continued his frothing about these quotes as insufficiently pro-gay in the Washington Post. Even expressing doubts about cross-sexuality seduction and being exposed to unwanted sexual advances is, according to Wilbon, "dumb, stupid and homophobic." So far into gay totalitarianism was Wilbon fallen that he denounced the LeBron James comment I cited below that he'd more distrust someone in the closet than out (the exact quote is in this footnote¹) as "not particularly enlightened." Yes, you read that right. Someone who wants and demands a gay teammate to come out to him is "not particularly enlightened." It's a sad day (and a sad comment on the culture of newspaper sportswriters and the gap between them and their fans) when I find more to like in a column by LZ Granderson, an openly gay writer for ESPN Magazine, than in the Washington Post.
Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" had to go into rehab to keep his job after directing an anti-gay slur at a co-worker. Twenty years ago, it would have been the co-worker worried about his job. This isn't "Gaytopia," but the movie studios aren't forcing you to marry a woman like they did in the old days.
I stood up and cheered when I read that column, based on Broussard's recommendation. Yes, Granderson is saying (not me, though I agree), being openly gay will earn you some raspberries, but have some perspective. Living an openly-gay life is not Hell-on-Earth (though it'll lead to Hell-elsewhere). I know this sounds hypocritical coming from me, who is closeted. But amen, amen, I say unto you: if it were purely about the bigoted reactions of religious and social conservatives, I'd have no reason to stay in the closet. But I know that, as long as I continue to hold to the Catholic faith and try to live under God's grace in as chaste a life as I can, I and those like me will be hated and hounded to the ends of the Earth by active gays.
¹ James said: "With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy. So that's like the number one thing as teammates . . . we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays there. It's a trust factor."


Terry said...

Do you think Amaechi was hoping for at least one reaction like this? It calls more attention to him and his book.

Terry said...

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced the above is an example of the sin of rash judgment.

Dad29 said...

I think Hunter's remark is exceptionally reasonable--largely because it is identical to my thoughts.

CourageMan said...


"The above" = your previous comment? Or Hardaway's words? Or (potentially) Amaechi's book? If the former, please e-mail me and tell me whether you'd like me to delete it. I generally believe in mulligans when it comes to blog comments that one regrets. (I would be sending you this privately, but I didn't see an email address on your profile or at your site.)

Terry said...

I was referring to my initial response. I'm really bad about presumption of others' motives as well as being cynical.
You can leave it.