“I hate gay people. I let it be known.... I don't like homosexuality. It shouldn't be in the world, or in the United States.”
-Former NBA player Tim Hardaway
I was troubled by the way the public, the media, the NBA and the homosexual community all pounced on Tim Hardaway after he made that statement on a Miami radio station a few weeks ago. He was responding to a question about Don Amaechi, the former NBA player who recently wrote a coming-out book about being gay in the NBA.
OK, sure, what Tim Hardaway said was as Neanderthalian as a protruding occipital bone, but I must admit to being a little impressed by the old baller. To say what he said, at a time when it is highly dangerous to criticize minority groups publicly, well that took nads. There is just far too much political correctness running around right now, and I can't help but feel a little glee every time somebody tells the Political Correctness Police to go jump in the lake.
Political correctness is nothing more than your run-of-the-mill lie. When you're being politically correct, you are telling a lie, and you are telling it for the same reason that most lies are told: to protect yourself. And the reason people have to protect themselves by lying in public is because of this attack-dog mode the masses go into when somebody says something society deems taboo.
Now, I don't give a flying box of petrified camel turds about Tim Hardaway's feelings, but when we ravage a man's entrails for making unpopular statements, I wonder what message that sends to all those people out there who also have fringe ideas-all those necessary, unpopular ideas that we aren't hearing because it's too dangerous to utter them.
I mean, this is the problem, isn't it? It's why so few people speak frankly anymore. It's why there's so much blah-blah-blah out there, all this blah-blah-blahing pouring out of our radios and televisions and newspapers-one giant glob of blasénnaise smeared across the country like a soggy ham sandwich.
Besides, what if tomorrow we discover that Hardaway and all his stone-age sympathizers were right about gays. What if tomorrow we learn that a malevolent order of homosexual warlocks have been implanting computer chips into people's skulls and reprogramming their sexuality to recruit them into their army of gay zombies? I know it's a stretch, but so was the notion of a round planet.
And when Nicolaus Copernicus started shooting his mouth about the sun not revolving around the Earth, it sounded as preposterous then as my homosexual warlock story sounds now. The point is, we've dismissed so many clearly accurate ideas throughout history that we really can't be trusted to judge for ourselves which ones are or aren't credible, so it's in our best interest to just hear them all.
Incidentally, Hardaway's prejudices are the dregs of an ancient defense mechanism passed on to us by our Paleolithic ancestors to be fearful and loathing of unknown others, largely because those unknown others often raided their camps, raped their women and leeched off their cable. Hardaway, bless his cold, gray soul, is just a little more connected to our ancestors than most. John Amaechi, not so much. Amaechi is a modern man. An articulate man. About Hardaway's remarks, Amaechi said this in an ESPN interview: “His words create an atmosphere that allows young gays and lesbians to be harassed in school, creates an atmosphere where in 33 states you can lose your job [for being gay].... We should be creating an atmosphere where the natural diversity of things [is] embraced.”
So true, so true, my valiant warrior queer. But then, isn't Hardaway's worldview part of that diversity also, prehistoric though it may be? And speaking of being fired for oppressive reasons-Hardaway was fired, too. At the time of his remarks, Hardaway was working for the NBA, which subsequently canned and banished him from the all-star weekend. Canned and banished!? Simply for exercising his right to speak his mind? Talk about oppression.
What I'm trying to say, my dear gay brothers and sisters, is that there is a big difference between oppression and discrimination: Oppression is when you are denied marital or adoptive rights or are fired from your job for being gay, black or whatever. Discrimination is a preference. We all have the right to choose our acquaintances, to discriminate who we associate with. But we do not have the right to oppress those we choose not to associate with.
What I'm trying to say, my homo Homo sapien friends, is this: Don't stoop to Tim Hardaway's level. Don't punish him for being who he is just as you don't want to be punished for being who you are.
I'm saying, don't ostracize others who say things you disagree with-no matter how distasteful.
I'm saying, there are social consequences for squelching voices and, at the least, you should be aware of what those consequences are before doing so.
I'm saying, come on, gays-must everybody like you? Can't it be OK for somebody to hate you? That's how it is. For every group there is somebody who hates it, and yours is no different.
I'm saying, look, I know what y'all went through, and what you are still going through, right here, right now-the continuing oppression of homosexuals in America. And you certainly have good reason to be sensitive when some suprainiac-fossa*-sporting, knuckle-dragging proto-Neanderthaloid gets on the radio and starts grunting, “Homo bad!” for all the world to hear. But it is exactly that heightened sensitivity that makes you ill-suited to be objective about being victimized. You are gun-shy. You see oppression, often times, where there is not. So trust me when I tell you-Political Correctness Police be damned-that you were not oppressed by Tim Hardaway. He was not wrong for saying what he said, and it's just so terribly awful, rotten and un-sapien of you, and anyone else, to oppress him in return. Peace.
* The suprainiac fossa is a groove in the occipital bone of the Neanderthal skull, now obsolete. E-mail ed@SDcitybeat.com and editor@SDcitybeat.com.