Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear Straight People: Please Stop Caressing Your Tender Balls

(...that's our job.)

Okay, so this is another sports post, BUT, it's also about gay double entendres , innuendo, and politics. It's got it all! So over the weekend, during some podunk college football game I didn't watch, ESPN announcer Brian Kinchen (who? I don't know, but check out the perfect squareness of his head!) went on some bizarre tangent about keeping a grip on the football, dropping words like "tender hands" and "caress." Then the tiny gay devil on his shoulder poked him with a stick, apparently, because he quickly ceded that his whole spiel sounded "kinda gay." Then? The awkward pause heard 'round Des Moines.

Today, ESPN has removed Kinchen from active duty, and we don't know whether he's going to be officially shitcanned or what. Now, I am not one to tolerate homophobic slurs, and fratty types who trade in such currency are pretty much the lowest on my list (see my thoughts on The Departed in a day or two). However, this guy should not be losing his job over that comment. I'm sorry. This wasn't even using "gay" as a pejorative, it was just standard issue gay panic by a jock who had metaphorically slapped his teammate on the ass and left his hand there for too long. Annoying? Totally. Is Kinchen something of a pitiable douchebag? Doubtless. But...ESPN employs a lot of pitiable douchebags, for many different reasons. I don't see them getting fired. You don't think Joe Theisman has offended me deeply on every football broadcast he's even taken part in? ESPN doesn't fire him.

Trust me, I realize it's a fine line. If Kinchen had said "faggot," I'd be calling for his head. But...he was talking about tenderly caressing balls with his soft hands. If he didn't say it sounded kinda gay, I bloody well would have. The fact that he's a square-headed That Guy and not, say, Jon Stewart means certain hackles immediately go up. And rightly so, I think. There's a certain degree of earning your cred when it comes to making a joke about gays or Jews or, you know, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (see sidebar -- it sounds a lot better coming outta Dennis Hayesbert, is what I'm saying). Times like these, my opinion tends to be that there is a degree to which we have to put up with people being dumbasses. Barring actual harassment, barring hate speech, people just don't get fired for being a douchebag. Trust me, I've worked with enough in my life to know.

The only thing firing someone like Kinchen does is give ammunition to the anti-PC crowd. And I do so hate the anti-PC crowd, but that's for another post on another day. For now I'll just leave it at: People sometimes get to be lameasses. Mock them, but don't fire them.

Lord knows why politicians don't take that slogan and run with it.

p.s. If you want to check out some gay panic that really IS off-putting and creepy, check out the Deadspin commenters today. Or better yet don't, because it's kind of gross.

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