The Blatant Dishonesty of Political Correctness
Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you may well have heard the outrage and indignation that erupted last week over New York Knick point-guard Jeremy Lin. Lin has been a sensation in New York, where he has reeled-off a string of impressive performances for the heretofore floundering Knicks after being inserted into the starting lineup about two weeks ago. The one glaring problem with Lin’s game is a propensity for committing lots of turnovers, and I do mean LOTS. This prompted a story published by ESPN last week about the weakness in Lin’s game, which in turn prompted a headline-writer to scribble-out the phrase “Chink in the Armor” as a header for the story. This is where the trouble started, not because the headline-writer necessarily did anything wrong, but because Jeremy Lin is Chinese.
Fast-forward to Monday night. Being a life-long fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, I was up late watching their game against Portland, and listening to the team of Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan, who always do a good job of calling a game. Late in the game, Miller and Harlan were discussing the play of the Laker’s forward formerly known as Ron Artest* and Miller was making the point that the drop in Artest’s offensive statistics was not of great concern for the Lakers, because he was such a good defender. At one point during his comments, Miller uttered the phrase, “..let’s call a spade a spade..” I was not sure I heard it correctly, so I hit rewind on my trusty DVR, and listened again. Sure enough, that’s exactly what Reggie said, and you could tell by the way he said it that even as it came out his mouth, Reggie was thinking “oops.” Artest being Black, one would expect at least SOME notice to be taken in the sports media the following day. Not a peep. I even did about 30 minutes of searching, and could find nothing.
Here’s the thing: ESPN fired the anonymous headline-writer, and also suspended an on-air personality who had the ill-grace to read the headline on the air. Miller, who used a word which is considered at least equally egregious, did not even merit notice. Why the double-standard? Why does Reggie Miller get a pass? If everything else about Reggie had been exactly the same, except for his skin color, I’d wager he’d be getting absolutely crucified right now. The answer of course is that it’s all about perception. Because Miller is Black, and the player formerly known as Ron Artest is Black, nobody imagines that Reggie meant anything by his remark, other than what he explicitly said, and therein lies the rub. The key is that one, little word: imagine.
Political correctness requires that we imagine racism or bigotry on the part of the speaker or writer. ESPN’s anonymous headline writer didn’t say anything worse than what Reggie Miller said, and like Miller, he was merely using a literary metaphor to make a point. There was nothing the least bit offensive about it, it was a perfectly legitimate, innocent remark. But because there is a broad section of the media who imagine that the writer might be a racist or a bigot, and further assume that Chinese or Asian people would be rightly offended by it, he lost his job. This is plainly absurd.
*For those who don’t follow basketball, Ron Artest is a veteran NBA player, who last September officially changed his name to:
wait for it…
Metta World Peace
Yes, Ron has always been a little “out-there.” You just can’t make this stuff up!