In last night’s Flyers preseason game, Wayne Simmonds was caught on camera calling the Rangers’ Sean Avery a gay slur. It sparked quite a firestorm, both with people complaining about a hate term being dropped and then others getting angry about the “PC police” and saying the word wasn’t used as a slur.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued a statement today regarding the situation:
New York, NY, September 27, 2011 – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today issued the following statement after Philadelphia Flyers’ player Wayne Simmonds appeared on camera shouting “fa**ot” during a preseason game last night, directed at marriage equality advocate Sean Avery of the New York Rangers:
“Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink,” said GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson. “The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”
GLAAD is in dialogue the Philadelphia Flyers as well as the National Hockey League (NHL) about specific next steps. Updates will be posted on www.glaad.org/blog as they become available.
Recently, GLAAD has worked with sports leagues including the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) to address issues of homophobia in sports.
It’s pretty pathetic all around. Simmonds is coming off an ugly situation himself where a banana was thrown at him on the ice, a clearly racially motivated taunt. It was unacceptable and the guy who did it deserves a puck to the mouth.
But for Simmonds to now drop a hate slur on another person is just as wrong. It’s just not OK to sling those terms around, despite the crying of the anti-PC crowd. Their strawman argument, which is basically supporting acceptable bigotry, is that it’s the “heat of the moment” or it’s “the way it is in sports” or it’s “just part of the on-ice vernacular during a game” or “it’s part of the machismo” or “it’s part of the bravado”.
It’s not OK. There is no excuse for the use of hate slurs in any situation. The particular word Simmonds used has unfortunately been co-opted and seemingly readily accepted by many as a synonym for “douchebag”, “bad”, “stupid”, “lame”, and “scum”, amongst other highly negative connotations. And it all comes from the implication that being gay also means those things. It’s simple bigotry at the basest, most scummy level.
It would be like Avery calling Simmonds a racial slur and saying it was OK since he only meant that Simmonds was a “dick” or “stupid” or he was just using “common hip hop slang” and that it wasn’t racism at all.
But it would still be wrong. These may just be words but the emotions they trigger are very real.
Think about it. If Avery or anyone dropped the n-bomb on someone the outrage and outcry would be enormous, and rightfully so. Not only would general society condemn the person who said it, the attention whores like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be demanding the NHL suspend Avery until eternity. It would be fodder for yet more debate about race and sports, the big networks would be self righteously comdemning it all, and maybe even some moron would photoshop a pic and ask “What if Sean Avery was black?” or something equally ludicrous.
It’s all ridiculous. Spewing hate towards others is lame and represents the lowest common denominator society has to offer.
But because this is a gay slur it’s “no big deal”. Or it’s not really a hate slur since these people aren’t gay. What? It doesn’t work that way. What if Avery were to drop a racial slur against blacks towards another white guy? Would it be OK then? Neither are black, so no harm right? Wrong. And anyone saying otherwise is either shallow, a bigot, or too stupid to process the concept.
We have a long way to go to eliminate bigotry and racism in our society. Those defending the use of hate slurs like this are only encouraging more intolerance. It’s sad and damning at the same time.
Sometimes the PC crowd goes way overboard, but it’s always right to stand up against casual bigotry. It’s not a liberal thing. It’s not that people have their panties twisted too tight. Everyone — gay, straight, black, white, or whatever — is entitled to simple human dignity.
What’s wrong with just calling an asshole an asshole?
UPDATE: Simmonds now denies saying it. That’s an interesting stance since it was caught on camera.