Friday, June 23, 2006

The Needle and the Damage Done

Somewhere, Jeff Spicoli is sitting through a 3-day sensitivity training seminar, stoned to his toes and wondering how he got there. Some time in the next few months, Ozzie Guillen will find himself in the same place, though probably without the same buzz.

Here at MLC, we’re taking a stand against the hypersensitivity of the masses – and in this case, the masses are generally represented by the media. Ozzie Guillen called Jay Mariotti a fag. Sorry if I’m not sent hurtling into paroxysms of white-hot guilt-laden anger. My reaction – big fucking deal. It’s a word, and it’s a word that in 2006 has so very little connection to real bigotry, worn down as it has been by decades of casual use in locker rooms, school buses, playgrounds, and even offices across the nation. ‘Fag’ is the new ‘jerk’.

Why, then is the media making such a fuss over one loudmouth’s choice of insult? Far be it for me to play armchair socio-psychologist, but I don’t think you have to stretch too far to find an intrinsic sense of collective guilt over our society’s long-time mistreatment of minority communities at the root of this hue and cry. We’re at the point societally where supposedly offended groups evince less actual offense than their reflexive defenders in the mainstream. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention (that’d be something new), but I don’t hear gay activists rushing to condemn Ozzie Guillen – probably because they’ve got bigger, and far more real, issues to tackle, like our bizarre national obsession with the partnership choices made by consenting adults. (Don’t worry, we’re not going any further down that road – this is, after all, a baseball blog.)

The media’s hypocrisy in Ozziegate is, once again, almost charming in its clumsiness. The assembled ink-stained wretches celebrate Guillen’s candor and spirit on one hand, then castigate him when those same qualities produce a mildly off-color result. This is the beast you created by dedicating those column-miles to the wacky skipper – can’t gasp in collective Pollyannaism when it turns on you. Sow, reap, repeat.

As in so many life situations, the advice of the immortal Sgt. Hulka is entirely relevant here: Lighten up, Francis. And by Francis, we mean you, America.

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