Shut Up, Already! I Don't Care That You Are Offended!
Too many people in this country have lost their minds. We now live in a nation where too many people for some reason believe that they have the right to never be offended. We don’t. I’ve checked.
The straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back for me was the recent uproar over the self-exposed revelation of Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson that, in 2012, he’d sent an email to other members of the Hawks’ ownership group in which, pondering on the sluggish ticket sales, he theorized that more white people aren’t coming to the games because “70 percent [of fans are] black…the cheerleaders are black… [and the] music is hip hop.” This theory culminated with Levenson’s conclusion that “the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”
Oy vey! Where to start? First of all, there is an element of truth to what Levenson said, at least from my perspective (full disclosure: I am a conservative white male, and therefore, of course, I must be racist). Yes, the Hawks, as an organization, have long cultivated a hip-hop culture for the team, as has the NBA in general. If that is their target market, fine. I don’t really care. But don’t pretend to be shocked at a dearth of suburbanite families who probably have no desire drive all the way down to Atlanta to have the likes of Jay-Z, Li'l Wayne, Usher, Eminem, and the Pussycat Dolls blasted from the loudspeakers as the cheerleaders gyrate and “drop it like it’s hot.” I don’t allow that music in my home, I don’t listen to it at work, and I don’t want my kids listening to it. It is all too often loaded with profanity and hyper-sexuality, and my kids are exposed to it enough without paying good money to immerse them in it even more.
But this isn’t racism. Racism is the belief that one race is inherently superior to another. Hip hop is not owned by, or exclusive to, black people. Sure, it started in inner city in New York, which is predominantly black, but it is a subculture that quickly expanded into the mainstream, adopted by middle and upper-middle class white kids whose lives are apparently so devoid of challenges that they have to pretend to be “gangsta.” And you know what? I…DON’T…CARE! They’ll grow up and be hit by reality soon enough, but until then, let them feel cool and edgy, like me and my black friend Cedric did when we were in 5th grade and created our own, ultra-exclusive club called “The Wildcats” (and by “ultra-exclusive”, I mean we were so nerdy that we couldn’t pay people to join our club if we’d had the money).
We have become too quick to cry “racism” (or sexism, or homophobia, etc.) in this country and it is doing us no favors. It divides rather than unites us. It pits “us” against “them.” The fact that I am not stoked about spending several hours packed into an arena listening to rap and hip hop doesn’t make me racist, it makes me anti-hip hop. I’d be perfectly content to be the only white fan there if I was surrounded by people like Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, Thomas Sowell, and Ben Carson, while listening to Sara Evans, Train, or the Violent Femmes (although, if the Hawks were cranking out The Violent Femmes, I am guessing there would be even fewer fans than they get playing lots of rap). It’s not the skin color I am uncomfortable with, it’s the culture. And that makes me no more racist than Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs would be if he didn’t want to hang out at a Miranda Lambert concert.
You know, I can’t even say that I am anti-rap or anti-hip hop. I’d be perfectly fine if the Hawks were blasting out some old school Run DMC, Fat Boys, or maybe a little LLCool J or some De La Soul. You could even pluck Rob Base or Tone Loc out of obscurity and I’d be happy. I just don’t care for the hyper-sexualized, thuggish crop of current rappers. Others love them, and that’s fine. And if that is the demographic you are shooting for, that is also fine. Just don’t climb up on your cross and pour out a hand-wringing, self-flagellating mea culpa for pointing out the obvious.
Even with all that, you know the main reason I don’t attend Hawks’ games? They suck. They are the epitome of mediocrity. They consistently make the play-offs with a record barely above, and often below, .500, and then they get killed in the first round (occasionally being dispatched after putting up a little bit of a fight). I don’t go to the Hawks’ games because for the better part of a decade they would bypass the much needed point guards and centers in the draft, and would draft tall, athletic wing-men as if they were a rare commodity. That’s how you end up with a team full of players like Josh Smith, Josh Childress, and Marvin Williams, who will have several spectacular dunks during a game, but will never win consistently. But hey, who needs All-Star point guards like Chris Paul and Deron Williams running your team when you can have Marvin Williams warming the bench, and Josh Smith channeling the spirit of Larry Bird and heaving up 3-point bricks instead of setting up in the low post and getting solid scores in the lane? The Hawks, in my opinion, have gone downhill since they traded Steve Smith, a fantastic player and an all-around good guy, for J.R. Smith, a decent scorer with a piss-poor attitude who was plagued by problems off the court.
But back to the “scandal.” Writing about the Levenson revelations, Slate Magazine writer Robert Weintraub laments “It’s no accident that strained race relations have now come to define the Atlanta sports scene…off the field, the one thing all these teams have in common is their inability, and often unwillingness, to grapple with race in a humane, meaningful way.”
Hey Einstein, sports fans don’t go to games to “grapple with race in a humane, meaningful way.” They go to cheer on their favorite team and have fun. This ain’t Martin Luther King, Jr. marching on Washington, or Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus. This is a few thousand people in a city going to a game to have fun with family and friends, get away from work and tune out from the litany of bad news scrolling across our TV screens. I am sick to death of moralizing by sports commentators. I don’t need to be lectured to about the “evils” of guns by Bob Costas while trying to watch Monday Night Football. You don’t like guns, Bobby? Well, by golly don’t own one. But until you step down out of that ivory tower of a lily-white gated community you live in, show you are willing to move to the inner city to face down gangs and drug pushers with nothing more than moralizing lectures, I don’t really care what you think.
Likewise, I don’t need to hear an endless “discussion” about why men shouldn’t beat up women, when I have never hit a woman in my life and would never do so unless she was trying to kill me. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punches out his girlfriend and now I’ve got to listen to self-important, self-appointed moral compasses of society every time I turn on the radio. Ray Rice is a thug, and he punched out his girlfriend, but she still married him. Skip the lecture, throw his sorry butt in jail, and get that girl some dignity and some counseling. But I don’t need to hear about how all men are evil, because the fact is that the overwhelming majority of men are decent and would not hit a woman.
Good heavens, I am so over it. Cashing in on “victimization” has become a growth industry, where everyone who is offended gets some TV air time before extorting concessions out of the “offender”. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have grown rich by stoking racial grievances, yet you never see them leading marches in Chicago, where hundreds of young black men are killed each year by other young black men. Is killing a black man only offensive if a white man does it?
I am 42 years old. I am white, I am male. I am a Christian. I don’t like most hip hop or rap because it glorifies violence, drug use, and misogyny. I don’t like Lady Gaga, Nikki Minaj, or Brittany Spears because they act trashy. There are lots of things I encounter every day that I don’t like, but never once have I felt, much less claimed, that because I am “offended” I get to control someone or destroy them in the court of public opinion if they don’t comply with my wishes. Living in a free country means we tolerate people with opposing viewpoints and lifestyles so long as they don’t infringe on our God-given, constitutionally protected rights.
We’ve got an $18 trillion national debt, a president who is clueless in the face of people that seek to destroy us, high unemployment, a cratering health care system, and people struggling to make ends meet. Claiming cultural differences are evidence of racism does no good for anyone except the grievance pimps who are growing rich from stoking these fires. We’ve got bigger problems to deal with than some idiot getting their panties in a wad because someone hurt their feelings.
And to the ownership of the Atlanta Hawks, a little free advice if you want to expand your demographic reach…dial back the Jay-Z and Young Jeezy, and maybe add a little more music that I don’t feel the need to take a shower after listening to.
And for heaven’s sake, PLEASE get a true center and a couple of shooting guards that can hit more than 40% of their jump-shots!