October 31, 2006

NBA Doesn't Monkey Around with Racial Heckler: An Orlando Magic season ticket holder has been banned from all NBA arenas for allegedly calling Dikembe Mutombo a "monkey" after Thursday's preseason game against the Houston Rockets. Hooman Hamzehloui, an Orlando real estate sales director, claims he didn't know that calling a black man a primate was racist. Hamzehloui, who hosted a Magic party the night before attended by several players, is still having trouble figuring this out. He told an Orlando Sentinel columnist, "If I said he looked like a chimpanzee or like a gorilla, none of this happens."

posted by rcade to basketball at 08:40 AM - 98 comments

Ah, yes the "I'm not a racist, I have a ton of [insert nationality here] friends" line. That always works. Can anyone explain the last line of the Sentinel Column? Are arena league fans known racists or something? If that's his attitude, he won't be missed. He would make a great Predators fan.

posted by SummersEve at 08:55 AM on October 31

Well, aside from the fact that his last statement is patently false, I can see a little bit of both sides. This guy is right to feel that he's been made an example of, because, well, he has been. Being barred from all arenas is pretty harsh. But if he shouts "monkey" at a player and doesn't get some kind of considerable punishment, then the tacit message is that racial epithets are okay, and soon courtside (and, through the ubiquitous and super-close microphones, the TV broadcasts) become a lot uglier. The Magic had to do something. Is it harsh? Yes. But ignorance is (of course) no excuse, and good on the Magic and the League for being proactive. No one else is going to go there now if they know what's good for them, are they. (I vaguely remember something similar happening at a NASCAR event a couple of years ago, with a couple of pit crew guys making racist jokes in a place where the public could hear them. They were fired on the spot, if I recall. If NASCAR can have that aggressively anti-racist an attitude, then this is only logical.)

posted by chicobangs at 09:00 AM on October 31

I just read this story on the Everybody Sucks Penis Network website. What the hell was this guy thinking? I SO love he apology his PR (attorney) person wrote for him. On the side, are there certain guidlines when it comes to heckling. Obviously you can't use racial or familial insults, but what else is taboo? Do the different sports leagues set guidlelines or is it up to the individual venue? Just wondering. BTW-nice headline, Rcade. On preview: I agree with Chico. He deserved punishment but it does seem a but harsh to ban him from EVERY NBA game.

posted by willthrill72 at 09:11 AM on October 31

"If I said he looked like a chimpanzee or like a gorilla, none of this happens." The Aristocrats!

posted by yerfatma at 09:27 AM on October 31

If people are so stupid they can't understand what heckling crosses appropriate lines, then they should be banned. Was he being made an example of? Probably. The league (and others, hopefully) have to start somewhere. If anyone commenting on this site thinks their own behavior when attending games approaches this sort of thing, I'd be surprised. I can't imagine yelling something like that at an athlete, loud enough so they can hear it (as could everyone else, I'm sure), and not expecting major consequences. If this ruling means more people will think before popping off at games, then I'm all for it. Seriously, it's gotten to the point where any adult even thinks of taking a younger adolescent to a pro sporting event almost feels ridiculous for contemplating it, because you're liable to hear or see anything under the sun from supposed "adults."

posted by dyams at 09:32 AM on October 31

I don't get the Predators crack either, especially when you consider that Orlando really likes its Arena Football team. The coach is Jon Gruden's brother, they're among the leaders in attendance (with 11,000 season ticket holders!) and have gone to the playoffs 15 consecutive years.

posted by rcade at 09:34 AM on October 31

That's a bit of an overreaction, no? Sure it's distasteful, offensive and not even slightly funny, but I don't think the guy should be banned from the sport. Well, I don't care so much, but it seems like the NBA got petrified. And Patrick Ewing looks like a gorrilla, not Mutumbo. I once stayed at the same hotel the Knicks were at, and down in the lobby I saw Sprewell and the gang checking in, but didn't see Ewing. I wondered outside for a smoke, and there he was - climbing up the building on the outside to get to his room, swatting planes and sweating heavily.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:41 AM on October 31

I think the Predators crack is a reference to their rowdiness.

posted by bperk at 09:47 AM on October 31

"Patrick Ewing looks like a gorrilla" My aunt always called him "Moon-face". Do you remember the McDonald's "Mac Tonight" commercials from the 80's, with the creepy crescent moon-headed guy singing to the tune of "Mac the Knife"? That's where it came from. She said Ewing's profile was exactly like the crescent moon head.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:04 AM on October 31

"Patrick Ewing looks like a gorrilla" My aunt always called him "Moon-face". Regardless of what you think someone may or may not look like, there are certain names that you don't use to refer to a black person (even on a message board). That includes all primates because those were used to dehumanize black people during slavery. Moon-face is perfectly acceptable.

posted by bperk at 10:18 AM on October 31

Can we at least agree the man sweat like he had a firehose in his shirt? He'd get fouled 15 seconds into the game and the kids with the sweat mop would be slipping and sliding at the line.

posted by yerfatma at 10:36 AM on October 31

Regardless of what you think someone may or may not look like, there are certain names that you don't use to refer to a black person (even on a message board). That includes all primates because those were used to dehumanize black people during slavery. You know who also looks fairly simian? Bruce Willis. He's apish, too. I'm not dehumanizing black people. I'm making fun of Patrick Ewing. He's an ugly dude. (Actually - that Patrick Ewing scaling a building joke is from Chris Tucker's appearance on Off The Record. Funny guy.) I just feel that we've advanced far enough as a society that we can separate the individual from the group identity politics enough for that to not be painted with the racist brush (actually, it;s less of a brush and more of a roller. In some areas, it's more like a bucket). I don't think that rule should be for ALL primates. I mean, if you called someone a lemur, that doesn't strike me as contextually racist.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:47 AM on October 31

Personally I'm rather pleased by the idea that we're prejudiced against those who espouse racial epithets. Obviously any sordid individual who lamentably offers these warped utterances lies outside our egalitarian new age celebration of cultural differences - Run to him and save him we must! To fail this man belies our failure to truly embody the tolerance we so aspire to. To punitively punish this perverse Persian is not patriotic, it is problematic! I suggest enrollement in a racial sensitivity course, with a public relations meeting/photo shoot with the Orlando Magic and Mutombo upon completion. Lets turn a ban into a better fan!

posted by chmurray at 10:51 AM on October 31

I'm not dehumanizing black people. I'm making fun of Patrick Ewing. Yeah, but you're being a bit disingenuous too. bperk is right: there are terms you don't use to refer to people of African descent, simply because those terms have been used to denigrate and dehumanize them for centuries. Maybe things will be different in a century or two, but now...no, sorry, we haven't lived that one down yet, and no one has the power to unilaterally wave their hand and say, "That's all over now." (Oh, and about the lemur thing -- you're right about that, because the term "lemur" hasn't been used to describe people of African descent while "monkey", "chimpanzee", "ape", "gorilla", "baboon" etc. all have. Besides, most people don't know what a lemur is, and those who do probably don't think of it looking characteristically simian.)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:57 AM on October 31

You know who also looks fairly simian? Bruce Willis. He's apish, too. I vote for Johnny Damon as 'apish'. Here's a guy super popular with the females yet could play a geico caveman on the spot, sans makeup. Me no get.

posted by justgary at 11:00 AM on October 31

I don't think that rule should be for ALL primates You're so human. Outside of humans, I'm with bperk. There are historical reasons why such comments are unacceptable in any form.

posted by SummersEve at 11:00 AM on October 31

"If I said he looked like a chimpanzee or like a gorilla, none of this happens." The Aristocrats! You owe me a keyboard, yerfatma.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:12 AM on October 31

This is all bullshit.Why can we say anything we like about a white person but we have to be so PC about Afro-Americans? They will never achieve true equality until they become an equal opportunity insultee.

posted by sickleguy at 11:57 AM on October 31

Yeah, but you're being a bit disingenuous too. bperk is right: there are terms you don't use to refer to people of African descent, simply because those terms have been used to denigrate and dehumanize them for centuries. Not to disagree or be difficult, but I have to side with Weedy a bit on this one. I'd rather see honest discourse out in the open and have us all (people on Earth, not Spofites) take some bumps and bruises than try to compile a list of All Things That Offend Black People Because They All Think and React the Same Way. Any honest attempt to frame such a policy becomes fractured and collapses under its own weight. Are we ok to refer to hulking Irishmen as gorillas even though Thomas Nast and that fun bunch of Know-Nothings used such imagery to dehumanize the Irish? If that's ok, why? Who declared the statute of limitation expired? Where are these things handled? You owe me a keyboard, yerfatma. The movie's just 3 stars for me, but that expression has gained currency. I've seen it at deadspin.com and I had been using it daily when my wife came home from her (now thankfully former) job to tell me the latest bit of awfulness that had gone on. It's a useful short-hand, assuming all parties know it in advance. Otherwise you have to relate the joke.

posted by yerfatma at 12:01 PM on October 31

This is all bullshit.Why can we say anything we like about a white person but we have to be so PC about Afro-Americans? They will never achieve true equality until they become an equal opportunity insultee. Really? You think you can get away with saying "kike" to a Jewish person? Or "frog" to a French-Canadian? Or "sister-marrying inbred" to someone from the South?

posted by grum@work at 12:04 PM on October 31

Summers Eve - Don't be a douche ( just couldn't resist) Weedy - you're really pointing out that only black people can make fun of other black people. It hazardous groud for white people. Its perfectly ok to have the Black Entertainment Awards, or the Essence Awards or the NAACP but don't even think about having The White Entertainment Awards or the Ivory Awards or the NAAWP or watch out. Just another double standard. I once heard a comedian say he didn't make fun of black people because he was afraid he might get beat up after the show, and he didn't make fun of hispanics because he might get stabbed after the show, and he didn't make fun of women because he might not get laid after the show, but he did think he was ok to make fun of gays because he figured the worst thing they would do was either make fun of his clothing or give him a bad hair style. Remember the NBA has always been hyper sensitive about two issues, the overwhelming percentage of black atheletes in the league, and the number of convicted felons and I am not implying theat the two go hand in hand. I am just stating the NBA marketing dept. works very hard to paint a certain type of picture.

posted by Atheist at 12:10 PM on October 31

You think you can get away with saying "kike" to a Jewish person? NO Or "frog" to a French-Canadian? YES Or "sister-marrying inbred" to someone from the South? YES I agree that racism is still a problem, however part of the problem is the fact that everyone is just waiting for someone to say something even close to racist so that they can jump all over them. Does it make you feel better as a person to tell someone else that they are insensitive? Obviously they don't care or they wouldn't have said something racist in the first place. Also, I can agree that making fun of "white" people is generally seen as acceptable. While making fun of minorities is taboo. (unless you are one) This is just another example of reverse racism. (Affirmative Action) Its Ok to be proud to be a minority, but if you're proud to be WHITE then your a racist. No wonder you see so many white kids dressed up like wannabe thugs. Its because being white is no longer acceptable.

posted by yay-yo at 12:17 PM on October 31

You think you can get away with saying "kike" to a Jewish person? Or "frog" to a French-Canadian? Or "sister-marrying inbred" to someone from the South? Actually I would bet if you called a Jewish player a kike the NBA could care less. I mean if there was a Jewish player. It's funny the NBA banned this idiot from all NBA games for his poor or insulting choice of words. Of course they did not ban a group a players for climing into the stands and beating the shit out of some fans. Gotta love pro basketball, if nothing else it's fun. In a few years the fans will sit behind a protective fence.

posted by Atheist at 12:18 PM on October 31

The fan made a mistake and should be penalized, or follow through with his apology offer of a charitable donation of Muntumbo's choice. The NBA was a little too unforgiving. Now what suprises me is that 'Hooman Hamzehloui' has probably experienced his fair share of prejudice and off-color remarks which might make a person a little more aware of how people perceive comments about ethnicity and race. Appearantly not so.

posted by gradys_kitchen at 12:28 PM on October 31

In a few years the fans will sit behind a protective fence. Or just stay home and watch safely on the television.

posted by dyams at 12:31 PM on October 31

And Patrick Ewing looks like a gorrilla, not Mutumbo. I once stayed at the same hotel the Knicks were at, and down in the lobby I saw Sprewell and the gang checking in, but didn't see Ewing. I wondered outside for a smoke, and there he was - climbing up the building on the outside to get to his room, swatting planes and sweating heavily. I read Spofi in a very small window to keep my job so I didn't see it was Weedy right away and the comment bothered me until I scrolled down to the point where I could see Weedy's name. So I'm a little torn on this comment, I know Weedy's not racist from reading enough comments here so knowing that it's from him it doesn't bother me but if someone I don't know says that I'd be a little upset I think. Is that wrong of me, or is it the same as a black comedian making gorilla jokes?

posted by tron7 at 12:38 PM on October 31

Does it make you feel better as a person to tell someone else that they are insensitive? Obviously they don't care or they wouldn't have said something racist in the first place. I don't think that's true. Lots of people are unaware of the historical context of words and the reality of how they are used as insults to groups of people. Recently, we had a post about Tiger's use of the word "spaz". He didn't realize it was offensive, now he does, and he apologized for using it. As a result, a whole bunch of other people are now aware that it is an insult to many people to use the word. I'd rather see honest discourse out in the open and have us all (people on Earth, not Spofites) take some bumps and bruises than try to compile a list of All Things That Offend Black People Because They All Think and React the Same Way If we want an honest discourse, then we have to agree to the ground rules. I have never been a part of any honest discourse that included name-calling and the use of insults. Maybe not all black people are offended by the use of the word "monkey", but most are and with plenty of good reason. At that point, what is the point of using it? Broadcast insensitivity? How could that further any honest discourse? On preview: tron, that's exactly how I felt about Weedy's comment, too.

posted by bperk at 12:44 PM on October 31

Does anybody think the NBA's reaction is because black players are the majority of the league and they have to be seen as intollerant of racism directed toward blacks. If a black fan were to yell at a white player "you look like a ghost that can't jump", does anybody really think the NBA would care? Of course not.

posted by Atheist at 12:46 PM on October 31

Weedy - you're really pointing out that only black people can make fun of other black people. No, I'm not - but I bet most people are less offended to know that it came from a black person. For the record, I think, specifically, that calling Patrick Ewing a gorrilla and calling Bruce Willis a gorrilla should amount to the same thing, but I was just as interested in the reaction. And really, isn't it actually racist to suggest that all black people would be offended by that? It suggests an association that is just as broadly stroked - and that we don't associate with other identified groups. I prefer to individualize the context. Most of the 'black' people I know don't share a nationality. Really - who are these 'black' people? Because if you're referring to colour of skin, you're talking about a whole mess of people from all over that have as much in common as I to a Dane. Besides, I'm more pink than white. And Johnny Damon looks like evolution just skipped about 10,000 years. However, in the interests of brotherhood and touch-feely, I meant no offence to gorrillas for suggesting they are as ugly as a certain centre that recently retired.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:56 PM on October 31

If a black fan were to yell at a white player "you look like a ghost that can't jump", does anybody really think the NBA would care? So, what's the historical context for the word "ghost" being used as an insult for a disenfranchised, formerly enslaved minority of whites in a society that is dominated by a black power structure?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:28 PM on October 31

As a descendant of gorillas, Weedy, apology accepted. I think the NBA over-reacted. They don't punish players this severely for the same type of mistake. I call it a mistake because we all have lapses of judgement at one time or another. I think a month long ban would have been sufficient.

posted by irunfromclones at 01:33 PM on October 31

That's the real point, LBB, and if some of these individuals don't understand the difference, they either haven't been paying attention or need a history refresher.

posted by dyams at 01:34 PM on October 31

So, what's the historical context for the word "ghost" being used as an insult for a disenfranchised, formerly enslaved minority of whites in a society that is dominated by a black power structure? I understand the point llb, but even as an AmerIndian I can see that people are too over-sensitive sometimes, too quick to throw down the race card for an honest mistake. We can't always assume that a remark is racially motivated. Sometimes it's just stupid, and if you punish stupid you are going to be banning a lot of fans.

posted by irunfromclones at 01:38 PM on October 31

It was actually on a Hallowe'en day way back in my high school days when I dressed up as Cardinal Ximinez from the Spanish Inquisition, sparking a debate on historical sensitivity in one classroom. Everyone agreed that the costume was hilarious, at least until a wise teacher asked: "How long will it be before somebody puts together a comedy sketch with the punchline Nobody expects the Holocaust?" At some point in between now and then, the lessons learned from slavery and segregation will be realized inherently, and we won't have to deal with debates like this. I mean, we're making our way there. I didn't actually know that "monkey" was a racist epithet. Maybe that just shows my ignorance of American history and my separation from American culture—but maybe that also displays a distance between me and an obsolete abusive segregationist mindset whose golden days were over before I was born.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:48 PM on October 31

I find this shit astonishing. Seriously. If you leapt into this thread to whine about not having been given the right to race-bait people, well, what exactly are you expecting from the world around you? I'm sorry you-all were born 150 years too late for your sensibilities, but Mistah Kurtz and George Lincoln Rockwell are dead. Now grow the fuck up and stop whining about how hard the White Man gots it. You sound like uneducated morons.

posted by chicobangs at 01:51 PM on October 31

The columnist indicates that this was an insult to "African Americans." Some here kinda imply the same thing. Not that it matters in the whole scheme of things, but is Mutumbo an American citizen now. I thought he was from Zaire/Congo.

posted by graymatters at 01:52 PM on October 31

Two words: Cosell. Garrett.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 01:56 PM on October 31

yerfatma: Not to disagree or be difficult, but I have to side with Weedy a bit on this one. I'd rather see honest discourse out in the open and have us all (people on Earth, not Spofites) take some bumps and bruises than try to compile a list of All Things That Offend Black People Because They All Think and React the Same Way. Any honest attempt to frame such a policy becomes fractured and collapses under its own weight. Are we ok to refer to hulking Irishmen as gorillas even though Thomas Nast and that fun bunch of Know-Nothings used such imagery to dehumanize the Irish? If that's ok, why? Who declared the statute of limitation expired? Where are these things handled? I guess that's a fair response to a statement of, "you just don't say these things". On the other hand, people didn't used to think of politeness as a policy matter, or scream bloody murder about political correctness when someone suggested that a little politeness was in order. Miss Manners has pointed out that etiquette is based on kindness and wanting people to get along and feel comfortable, to which I would add that there's a difference between consensus and a committee decision. Consensus is difficult to achieve in a diverse society, but we're not altogether without it, and an absence of a written policy doesn't mean that no consensus exists. (Note: I'm talking here more generally, not about the NBA, which obviously has formal policies...just to be clear.) I'm also strongly in favor of honest discourse, but "honest discourse" != "free for all" or "rules for you but not for me". Seems to me that honest discourse would include being able to discuss the context in which an epithet like "monkey" became about something more than an individual's looks or behavior when applied to a black person. Instead, it would appear for some that the need for honesty goes out the window as soon as the conversation turns uncomfortable for them. I agree with taking our lumps and bumps; it's a bumpy old world. But if black people have to put up with the lumps and bumps of being called "monkey" by the occasional idiot, seems like white people should also have to put up with the discomfort of the discussion of why that usage is problematic, rather than bawl, "Aw whudda lotta PC crap!" Those who shout down a discussion don't deserve a hearing themselves. As for the statute of limitations, well, we're in a funny place with that, as this discussion shows (DrJohn's comments are a particularly good example). There are white people today who are honestly unaware of any racist connotations of simian terms being used to describe black people. Sometimes this is a good sign, because it means that these people have simply never heard a racist application of these terms, and we can hope that that means that their corner of the world really was a better place. But not everyone is so fortunate, innocent, sheltered, or unaware of history, and not every usage of these terms is so innocent, either. Until that day comes, it seems the statute of limitations hasn't quite expired yet.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:00 PM on October 31

If a black fan were to yell at a white player "you look like a ghost that can't jump", does anybody really think the NBA would care? So, what's the historical context for the word "ghost" being used as an insult for a disenfranchised, formerly enslaved minority of whites in a society that is dominated by a black power structure? So - some people are allowed to play the tangentally-racial insult game and some aren't, lbb? Is that why we (the universal 'we') shouldn't be offended by a 'black' fan calling a white player a non-jumping ghost? (For the record, I don't find this offensive at all. I'm not programmed to.) Well, that just might be racist. More rules on speech based on racial lines. This line of thinking just encourages divisions. There is no progress here. That's right, folks. Until we can properly determine and accept the difference between saying Patrick Ewing looks like a gorrilla; Patrick Ewing is a gorrilla; and all black people look and/or are gorrillas - then white NBA players will continue to be called non-jumping ghosts by black fans without reprisal. (This is indeed a disturbing universe.) My advice - start with the admission that there is no such thing/group as black people. Much like the admission that there is no such group as white people. It's the first mistake most people make. It comes from the time of racism and it's factually inaccurate. Black is not an ethnicity, but the term is used as such. Then you can basically take it from there. That's the big problem with racism. It's just so stupid and none of the rules make any sense.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:08 PM on October 31

Its perfectly ok to have the Black Entertainment Awards, or the Essence Awards or the NAACP but don't even think about having The White Entertainment Awards or the Ivory Awards or the NAAWP or watch out. Just another double standard. Next thing you're going to tell us is that men should be able to play in the LPGA. Minorities of any kind have a stronger need to band together than the majority, whether we're talking about race, religion, or some other differentiator. But it's not like there aren't seventy bajillion organizations for ethnicities that are predominantly white or private social clubs that give preferential (or even exclusive) admission to whites.

posted by rcade at 02:25 PM on October 31

That's the big problem with racism. It's just so stupid and none of the rules make any sense. Exactly.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:29 PM on October 31

It comes from the time of racism and it's factually inaccurate. Which time was that and when did it end?

posted by bperk at 02:30 PM on October 31

Thing is, Weedy, the way I understand it, "black people" isn't a natural ethnicity, but it's an artificial one created by the ebb and flow of slavery and segregation. Natural ethnicity is about a person's historical geography and culture. This type of man-made ethnicity is about a person's historical experience—which, given its overwhelming presence in the U.S., doesn't make it any less valid than a natural ethnicity. I agree that things would be a lot easier if we could all deal with our ethnicities as a "where our ancestors came from" rather than "what happened to my ancestors in comparison with what happened to yours", but we're just not there yet.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:32 PM on October 31

So - some people are allowed to play the tangentally-racial insult game and some aren't, lbb? Yes. And you're not allowed to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, because part of belonging to a society involves understanding the potential impact of the words that you use. That's the big problem with racism. It's just so stupid and none of the rules make any sense. The big problem with racism is racism, not people who wish to innocently adopt the language of racists with no malicious intent. I fail to see how you're losing anything of value by being unable to express the opinion that Pat Ewing looks like a gorilla without it looking racist. That's like crying for Clarence Thomas because he can no longer tell his coworkers when it appears that pubic hairs have landed on their cans of Coke.

posted by rcade at 02:34 PM on October 31

In a few years the fans will sit behind a protective fence. How would that be new for cagers?

posted by yerfatma at 02:41 PM on October 31

There are white people today who are honestly unaware of any racist connotations of simian terms being used to describe black people. and then there are people like a co-worker of mine, who told me a horribly racist "joke" last week that centered around comparing a black person to a monkey. after i ripped him a new one, he was shocked that i was offended. his justification for retelling the joke was that it was told to him by a mexican.

posted by goddam at 02:45 PM on October 31

Be careful not to mix what is offensive to people based on race, religion and ethnicity with those comments that are situationaly inappropriate, such as Clarence Thomas' comments. Using dehumanizing comments, such as the one in question, behind closed doors is much different than telling an off-color sexual joke with your buddies. The difference in discretion is identifying which comment is inappropriate always and which fits only in certain company ie. Monkeys is always racist regardless of who hears it, pubes maybe funny in the proper company. I don't think Thomas was in proper company. Also, if you really needed to separate race out of it, comparing a human to an animal has mostly been insulting throughout history. There are exclusions such as if I called one of you a cheetah you may think that means you are fast, if I called you a Tapir you may get confused, but if I called you a pig, you damn well know I'm insulting you. Apply this formula to all interactions with people regardless of race and you have a formula for success. And Weedy, just call Ewing ugly next time since that was indeed your intention. Of course you've still insulted the man and done in person, I'm pretty confident he could deliver a sufficent beat-down.

posted by gradys_kitchen at 02:51 PM on October 31

I think is interesting to note that most of the stereotypes and generalizations people make about each other, especially the most hurtfull ones, contain some element of truth. They are usually perpetuated by the fact that some stereotypes are actually embraced by the people they are made against. While I don't believe any Jew wants to be referred to as cheap, they would not mind being known for acute business skills or being linked to being doctors or lawyers. The same would hold true for blacks in as much as many blacks embrace stereotypes such as superior athleticism, faster, sexually superior, or whatever, and reject sterotypes that they deem negative. It's not suprising people might not find a movie titled White Men Can't Jump offensive but would find a movie titled Black Men Can't Swim unacceptable. I think that unless the positive sterotypes get rejected by those that they benefit, the negative ones will never dissapear. Also many groups do a lot to perpetuate the stereotypes aimed at them. A good example is the recent cartoons of Mohammed with a bomb under his turban. The violent reaction from the muslim community didn't do much to refute the perception of their voilence it only reinforced it. I can't help but notice the hypocricy of the politically correct society we live in. It seems to me those who have been on the receiving end of prejudice and should understand its evils, also seem to be quick to be prejudiced toward others. At times like this I think is good to remember, god hates us all, equally.

posted by Atheist at 02:52 PM on October 31

I've hesitated to join this discussion because I have so many opinions about this racial divide and lack of discourse. I agree with Weedy about black and white being used to describe a race. Stopping that classification would go a long ways toward intelligent discussion. By the same token, I do not want to be a part of a "color-blind" society because I do not want our cultural differences ignored because everyone has to be the same. Rather, I would love to see them celebrated. However, I do not see that happening as long as people fail to (or refuse to) realize that the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is not and has never been true. Words hurt and no one should have to hear something that offends them because the speaker choses to be obtuse. And simply because the racist and or hurtful comment comes from a member of that same ethnic group does not make it right nor does it excuse a member of another ethnic group. "They do it too" is also generalizing and a cop-out. BTW: I also think that the punishment was a bit harsh. How is Hamzehloui going to exhibit that he has learned his lesson if he never gets the opportunity to attand another NBA game?

posted by yzelda4045 at 02:55 PM on October 31

He doesn't have to exhibit his having learned the lesson. He just has to learn it. Also, this isn't a lifetime ban. He'll be back next year if he still wants to buy in.

posted by chicobangs at 03:00 PM on October 31

At times like this I think is good to remember, god hates us all, equally. posted by Atheist at 2:52 PM CST on October 31 Are you sure that you're not agnostic?

posted by tselson at 03:00 PM on October 31

Which time was that and when did it end? Well, it's been factually inaccurate for, like, evarrrr. As for the time thingy, lets go with, as soon as possible. "black people" isn't a natural ethnicity, but it's an artificial one created by the ebb and flow of slavery and segregation. Exactly - artificial. And this one just doesn't hold a lot of water. It invites separation where it shouldn't exist. The American black experience doesn't exist without the white one, and vice versa. The intertwine is real - look at art, music, fashion - all the cultural touchstones. It's the same experience with different perspectives (and, yes, consequences). But I think our biggest problem is championing the differences, rather than the sameness. The big problem with racism is racism, not people who wish to innocently adopt the language of racists with no malicious intent. No, I think the biggest problem is being able to recognize things for what they actually are. Racism is real. There are bigots and racists on every corner of every street - and in every colour - but not being able to distinguish the difference and erring on the side of 'everything even tangentally related' - language, idioms, ideas - is racist is just shutting a door that can be quite beneficial to remain open. I fail to see how you're losing anything of value by being unable to express the opinion that Pat Ewing looks like a gorilla without it looking racist. Because saying Patrick Ewing looks like a gorilla isn't inherently racist. The value lost is truth (not that PE looking like a gorilla is truth, but rather that it is not racist to suggest it). It's an example, not a hard fast rule where I want to be able to compare famous black athletes to primates. It is no more racist than suggesting that Bruce Willis looks like a gorilla, or that Johnny Damon looks like a chimp. It. Just. Isn't. I know you don't think either of these two examples are racist, and you're right - but they are, within the context, exactly the same as suggesting Patrick Ewing does. Because we need to be able to make sense of individuals vs. group identity. It's easy for most to be able to do that amongst their own group (I say Bruce Willis looks like a monkey - you don't immediately think that I am referring to how all white people look like monkeys). And I think that if you (the pejorative - not you, rcade) can't see that, that's an admission of your own racism.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:02 PM on October 31

Because saying Patrick Ewing looks like a gorilla isn't inherently racist. Neither is calling him a nigger. It is racism now because of the historical context in which it has been used. Basically, a non-racist, non-black person should be able to call a black person a nigger and we should be able to tell whether they meant it as a racial slur or meant it more like nigga as a rapper would mean it. Right? And somehow this will take us all a little closer to a non-racist society.

posted by bperk at 03:24 PM on October 31

Am I the only one that can see not knowing that "monkey" is a racial epitath? I'm pretty sure that I was not aware of this until I went away to a college filled with people from lilly-white towns. I did not grow up surrounded by people who used racial epitaths. If Hamzehloui didn't know that monkey was a racial epitath (which I believe is possible), how is it fair to ban him forever? If he yelled out that Mutombo was ugly, he wouldn't be banned. Hamzehloui thought that's what he did. I understand racism not being tolerated, but I think the punishment is far too harsh. I think that a code of acceptable fan behavior should be made explicit. Punishing fans without real guidelines seems unfair to me. Is it ok to make fun of Mormon players? Jewish (no)? French (yes)? Southern (yes)? Chinese? Is it ok to heckle based on a personal tragedy? Death of a parent or child? Cheating spouse? Criminal accusations? Rape accusations? Can you insult intelligence? Illiteracy? Ugliness? Greediness? Drug addiction? Steroid use? Alcoholism?

posted by Aardhart at 03:35 PM on October 31

Am I the only one that can see not knowing that "monkey" is a racial epitath? If you'd been reading carefully, you'd know that you weren't. Where we may differ is in whether this makes its continued use acceptable once you've been enlightened. BTW, the word you want is "epithet". An epitaph is something completely different.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:40 PM on October 31

I would like to know the demographics of this group discussion. I find in interesting that all of you (white) people know, how and what makes a black person feel disrespected or hurt. Some black people I know would kick your ass if you even mention the "N" word. Others, don't seem to be bothered by it in the least because it refers to the uneducated slave of yesteryear. For you all to jump on somebody's case because you THINK a black person MIGHT be offended is straight up RIDICULOUS. How many black people living today were at one time a slave? (NOT MANY) They should be the only people offended by the "N" word. Do white people still use the "N" word in a derogatory manner? YES. However the only reason they use it is because they KNOW that it pisses off SOME black people. Now, let's say some Redneck in Alabama runs into one black person a day. The first day he calls the black person a "N". The black person simply ignores him and passes him by. The next day, the same thing happens. And so on and so on. How long do you think it will take for the Redneck to stop using the "N" word because it obviously does not have the effect that he is looking for? The only reason these words and phrases have so much weight in society is because we allow them to. A wise man once said "Turn the other cheek!"

posted by yay-yo at 03:42 PM on October 31

whether this makes its continued use acceptable once you've been enlightened Did Hamzehloui continue using it once he was enlightened? An epitaph is something completely different. And not the word Aardhart used.

posted by qbert72 at 03:46 PM on October 31

Yay-yo, are you saying that one has to be black in order to know what makes a black person feel disrespected or hurt? I would think that it is basically the same thing that makes any person feel disrespected or hurt. You know, making a derogatory comment about one's parentage, looks, weight, attributing certain taits to an ENTIRE group of people, you know, the usual. Or as my high school government teacher taught us, "Your rights end where another person's rights begins". Thinking that only a black person would know what makes a black person feel disrespected or hurt is the same attitiude that believes that certain black political, social, faith leaders speak for ALL black people. Some of the same things make people feel disrespected and/or hurt and those things are not necessarily defined by racial makeup.

posted by yzelda4045 at 04:03 PM on October 31

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:08 PM on October 31

LOL, Frazer, LOL and LOL again.

posted by cjets at 04:31 PM on October 31

Does anyone in this room have SELF-CONFIDENCE? You all sound like a bunch of kids who were bullied. Does it really hurt your feelings if someone you don't know, talks some smack to you? Racism is one thing, but come on. Get some nuts. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you ugly? Are you fat? Do you look like a gorilla? If you answered NO to these questions then you shouldn't care if someone Calls you an unattractive, obese, primate.

posted by yay-yo at 04:45 PM on October 31

I know i'm waaaaaaaaaaaaay off topic here, but, HEY WFRAZ!, what if, just what if, all these people putting their TWO CENTS worth in on this topic, threw $2 in for the Fahmarr McElrathbey trust fund, wouldn't that just about put us over the top for the $500 we are trying to raise? I'm just asking.

posted by tommytrump at 04:46 PM on October 31

qbert: And not the word Aardhart used. What he/she used wasn't a word at all ("epitath"), but it was a lot closer to "epitaph" than "epithet", don't you think? jebus, now people are playing non-word games. was there ever a clearer indication that a thread was dead?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:06 PM on October 31

wfrazerjr, thanks for that....LMAO :o)

posted by Steeler_Fan at 05:09 PM on October 31

I haven't seen the film, YFM, I just know the joke. We now return you to your regularly scheduled horse beating.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 05:14 PM on October 31

Next Question.

posted by yachts360 at 05:19 PM on October 31

Next Question.

posted by yachts360 at 05:19 PM on October 31

Sports related, from the article: the NBA banned him from all league arenas this season. That is a precedent setting-move meant to send a message that pro sports leagues are getting fed up with boorish behavior from their fans. About time. Buying a ticket does not allow you to act like an ass, acting irregardless of others, nor should it. If players are expected to adhere to certain standards, so should fans. True as well. Boo, hiss, but don't cross the lines of good taste.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:21 PM on October 31

Stick to the issue guys... (YEP, I'm a newbie) Fact of the matter is he (Hamzehloui)should have been punished for what he said. And black, white, yellow or brown feel there are certain words that can not be said to them from another race or nationality. (some feel strongly about this even within their own race). It sucks when you have a good joke and can't say it because it may hurt someone but it's fun too. Right! That's right we all have experienced the dark side but WAKE UP! And we should be sensitive (as in responsible for our own actions) when we say and do things that are stupid. And most importantly since most of you use the English language thoroughly, eloquently and explicitly know that words, whether spoken or written, are powerful tools. If misused communication breakdowns. If used correctly... well you get it... Another thing... And put Re in front of these words... Teach, learn, educate the next level of understanding to yourelf, your family and then your community. In that order... And don't be ashamed to stand up for what right. Truth is a personal perspective. Did Hamzehloui think he was doing the right thing? Or did he just simply not care? Who knows but I know and your gut feeling knows he was wrong. There is no grey area...

posted by fengzi at 05:22 PM on October 31

Does anyone in this room have SELF-CONFIDENCE? We're in a room? Is this the "internets" I have heard so much about? I like The Google. I picked a PRIMO day to take the afternoon off, I tell ya. I might be psychic. Or a slacker. Maybe a psychic slacker. Or a super slacker.

posted by jerseygirl at 05:33 PM on October 31

That is a precedent setting-move It will be interesting to see how well they follow that precedent. And under what circumstances they choose to ignore it. I anticipate that, when they enforce it, we will see stories. But when they do not, we will hear nothing.

posted by graymatters at 05:35 PM on October 31

I find in interesting that all of you (white) people know, how and what makes a black person feel disrespected or hurt. Some black people I know Stop now.

posted by yerfatma at 05:37 PM on October 31

About time. Buying a ticket does not allow you to act like an ass, acting irregardless of others, nor should it. mjkredliner is right. I thought about it, and I can't think of a single situation in which I would sincerely insult a grown man out of nowhere like that, regardless of the word I used for it. Sports venues shouldn't be any different.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 05:40 PM on October 31

I know i'm waaaaaaaaaaaaay off topic here, but, HEY WFRAZ!, what if, just what if, all these people putting their TWO CENTS worth in on this topic, threw $2 in for the Fahmarr McElrathbey trust fund, wouldn't that just about put us over the top for the $500 we are trying to raise? I'm just asking. Why, yes, TT, it would! Feel free to check out the link on the front page to the top left (or just click this lick, which we guarantee is not related to any dead horses) and help SpoFi support the FahMarr McElrathbey Fund! We stand at 64%, and I will close the donations on Nov. 15, just because I'm arbitrarily picking dates. Enjoy the show!

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:49 PM on October 31

Actually I would bet if you called a Jewish player a kike the NBA could care less. I mean if there was a Jewish player. I'm sure that Jordan Farmar would be pretty pissed off if you stepped up and called him a kike. Of course, Larry Brown was a star in the NBA, and he's Jewish. Never mind the commissioners/coaches/owners like David Stern, Red Auerbach or Mark Cuban. Of course they did not ban a group a players for climing into the stands and beating the shit out of some fans. Say what? I'm pretty sure a bunch of players were suspended for some games. Which, of course, means they weren't paid any money during that time. In turn, I'm going to say that it's a much bigger punishment to take your earnings away than it is to refund your money for tickets and not let you attend a game in person. You think you can get away with saying "kike" to a Jewish person? NO Or "frog" to a French-Canadian? YES Or "sister-marrying inbred" to someone from the South? YES Really? You think you can walk up to some stranger in the South, one that you've never met before, and say (in front of a group of people) that he's f*cking his sister? You think that he'll just stand there and take the insult? What colour is the sky in your world?

posted by grum@work at 06:41 PM on October 31

Incestuous pink.

posted by yerfatma at 07:30 PM on October 31

Stop arguing about racism!! That took a lot of inner strength. I have come a long way. Either that or I'm coming down with something.

posted by Bishop at 07:33 PM on October 31

Neither is calling him a nigger. The difference is that I'm saying he looks like a gorilla. Not that he is a gorilla. I think that's important. Your example is an accusation. I think the meaning is much different. Anyway, I guess my original point is that we try hard so hard with the anti-racism attitude to the point where we actually contribute to perpetuating thinking racially (both good and bad) at large. And perhaps, in a small way, Patrick Ewing's extraordinary visage can help us understand a little bit more about each other, and ourselves. All together now... Smile on me brother....

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:36 PM on October 31

it was a lot closer to "epitaph" than "epithet", don't you think? You didn't have any problem understanding that was meant was "epithet". Aardhart was discussing the story. You weren't. I'm out.

posted by qbert72 at 08:27 PM on October 31

I know the NBA is sending a message that it will not tolerate intolerance, but the punishment seems severe. Go to just about any NCAA men's basketball game (excluding, ahem, the ones in Utah), sit near the student section, and tell me you don't hear insults a million times worse than "monkey." Personally, I hate the student sections, (as well as callous insults) but following the rationale that's been used in this particular thread, it would be appropriate and best for them to be banned for the season. Is that correct?

posted by forrestv at 08:27 PM on October 31

Aardhart was discussing the story. You weren't. Well, I suppose if all you read was that one sentence, you could be forgiven for thinking so, qbert.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:32 PM on October 31

forrestv, I have three reasons why you're not correct. One, those students are not professionals. Like it or not, amateur events are held to a different standard than professional ones. You start paying people, the level of decorum expected by the employees on the floor and their clients in the stands goes up. There's also more money (and need) for security in NBA arenas. Enforcement is much easier. Two, the NBA is a global league, and wishes to sell its product to every culture on the planet. Tonight's openers will be shown across the globe, to an audience of something on the order of half a billion people. US College basketball, on the other hand, is a regional product, sold partially on a national level and (to a much greater degree) on a regional level. It's a question of scale. And three, there is no one nearly as strong as David Stern at the head of the NCAA. If there was, there would be a lot less ambiguity in a hundred different situations, racism in the stands being on that list, though probably not near the top of it.

posted by chicobangs at 09:11 PM on October 31

Chico, I didn't say it was feasible or realistic to ban students or student sections. It's not. But I don't think it behooves us to draw lines between professional and amateur events when it comes to racism or the hurling of racial slurs. If it's wrong in one venue, it should be wrong in all others. That's pretty black and white (pardon the pun), but with something so serious, it needs to be uniform.

posted by forrestv at 09:25 PM on October 31

Absolutely. I didn't argue with that point. The difference is one of enforcement and focus. And in many schools, the movement to quiet down the yahoos is pretty weak (either because of lack of funds, lack of organization or lack of interest), whereas in the NBA, it's way higher on the priority list league-wide, for the reasons I outlined above. As evidenced by the reaction to this incident. I didn't say it was right, but you wanted to know why things were the way they were, and that was my guess.

posted by chicobangs at 09:30 PM on October 31

Nah, I got you Chico. It's cool. I was just curious if anyone was willing to go as far to outlaw the slur stuff at the collegiate level. I mean, if SpoFites are willing to get worked up about it in Mutumbo's case, then they should get worked about it at the collegiate level (which, I've heard, are our most formative years, i.e., if it's OK in college, why shouldn't graduates think it's OK at pro games too?)

posted by forrestv at 09:51 PM on October 31

I apologize to everyone for mis-using a non-word. Thank y'all for learning me something new. Since no one claims that "Hamzehloui continue[d] using it once he was enlightened," I stand by what I wrote.

posted by Aardhart at 09:54 PM on October 31

forrestv, I attend college basketball games very infrequently, and then only those at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and I must say, racial slurs are either covered up by the rest of the bedlam, or I do not notice them, especially to the point where I would deem it a major problem. To which campus(es) do you refer? I woiuld think that any sports fan hurling racial slurs at a game would be doing the hometeam athletes as much disfavor as it is the opposing team...

posted by mjkredliner at 10:13 PM on October 31

Since no one claims that "Hamzehloui continue[d] using it once he was enlightened," I stand by what I wrote. ...that he was quite possibly using the term while unaware of its racist connotations, yes -- as I already pointed out, others had previously written the same, including me. It's entirely possible. But it's impossible to prove what someone didn't know, and ignorance, even if genuine, doesn't erase consequences. You can't regulate intent, but you can regulate behavior -- and if you are going to regulate behavior such as the use of racist epithets, you cut the legs out from under your regulation if people can simply say, "I didn't know that was racist/I don't think of that as racist," and then skate. You had also written: I think that a code of acceptable fan behavior should be made explicit. Seems reasonable. Now let's see what the NBA website has to say on the matter of acceptable fan behavior: Any spectator who verbally abuses players and/or coaches in a manner which, in the opinion of the game officials, interferes with the ability of a coach to communicate with his players during the game and/or huddles, will, at the direction of the crew chief, be given one warning by a building security officer. If the same spectator continues to behave in a like manner, the crew chief shall direct a building security officer to eject the spectator from the arena. ...and that is all I could find (see here under "Verbal Fan Interference"). So whaddya think: NBA heading out on some thin ice on this one?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:19 PM on October 31

Mjk, all student sections aren't bad, no. But when I was a photojournalist I covered WAC tournaments and a couple of NCAA tournaments and it was almost always students who said the most brutal things. Hilarious sometimes. But brutal as well. If you're at court level (and they are right in your ear), you can't help but hear them.

posted by forrestv at 10:38 PM on October 31

So whaddya think: NBA heading out on some thin ice on this one? Do I think there will be any backlash or other negative effects against the NBA? No, absolutely not. Everyone will applaud their reaction. Do I think it is fair? Not at all. The government would not be able to punish someone without a regulation. (I believe private parties can revoke tickets for any or no reason.) I aagree with prohibiting all fan comments, cheers, chants, and heckles involving race, nationality (except French, French-Canadian, and Antiguan), ethnicity, and religion (except Scientology). I don't think a monkey comment necessarily qualifies as racial (as demonstrated by the Weedy/Ewing/Willis/Damon comments) and I don't think that this incident justifies a banning for life, especially if there was no formal prior policy. I'd say, at most, revoke his season tickets, ban him for the season (or not, but revoke his tickets), and let him get on the waiting list for season tickets. I think there should be a formal policy read out loud before each game. This thread demonstates disparity in understanding of what's acceptable, and views that diverge from my own: Obviously you can't use ... familial insults .... -willthrill72. MTV has a show called Yo Momma! I thought familial insults were all part of going to a game, or playing in the World Cup. Boo, hiss, but don't cross the lines of good taste. -mjkredliner. Many fans try to get into the head of the visiting team. They do this by doing way more than booing and hissing. Wit seems to be valued. I think a code that answers all my questions would be good, and I think it should be read before games.

posted by Aardhart at 12:48 AM on November 01

I find in interesting that all of you (white) people know, how and what makes a black person feel disrespected or hurt. Some black people I know Stop now. =Good advice. NBA Doesn't Monkey Around with Racial Heckler : An Orlando Magic season ticket holder has been banned from all NBA arenas for allegedly calling Dikembe Mutombo a Stop now. =Better advice.

posted by Bishop at 03:05 AM on November 01

Many fans try to get into the head of the opposing team. They do this by doing way more than booing and hissing. Wit seems to be valued. Yeah, I should have said, boo, hiss, whatever, just don't.... I'm not so staid that I don't think a good heckle is funny, but I also don't appreciate a steady stream of expletives or patently racist invective coming from a fan seated near me. And if you think about it, those athletes who have endured the worst vituperation ( I am thinking Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron etc.) were not psyched out, but instead were only moved to greater deeds by those cretins who could not either A. actually appreciate the feats of the man performing them because they were filled with hate because of the man's color, or B. enjoy the efforts of the man or team in question because they were so blinded by team allegiance (fanaticism?) that all sense of sportsmanship went out the window. Being a ticket-holder does not entitle you to ruin the experience of young children or elderly fans, and it should not cause you to lose whatever sense of good taste or sportsmanship you may (or, may not) have. I can't think of a single situation in which I would sincerely insult a grown man out of nowhere like that, regardless of the word I used for it. Sports venues shouldn't be any different. That sums it up pretty well, DrJohnEvans.

posted by mjkredliner at 07:15 AM on November 01

Aardhart: I don't think that this incident justifies a banning for life, especially if there was no formal prior policy. I'd say, at most, revoke his season tickets, ban him for the season (or not, but revoke his tickets), and let him get on the waiting list for season tickets. Point of clarification: the offender wasn't banned for life. His season tickets were revoked (with a refund) and he received a one-year ban from NBA arenas, and will be eligible to purchase season tickets in the future. I don't think they indicated whether he'd even have to get on the waiting list to get them. I think there should be a formal policy read out loud before each game. I agree, but it's kind of a CYA thing. I don't think problem individuals would listen or care. btw, when did you run afoul of an Antiguan Scientologist?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:11 AM on November 01

I need to reinstall Clippy. He makes a lot of sense.

posted by rcade at 08:18 AM on November 01

Then again, there were some who took heckling to an art form. Not that you were really serious rcade, but steps to bring Clippy back from the dead can be found here.

posted by irunfromclones at 12:54 PM on November 01

Point of clarification: I swear that I can normally read. I don't know where I got this idea from. Antiguans were meant for humor. Scientology and French point out that politally correctness doesn't protect all ethnicities and religions.

posted by Aardhart at 01:10 PM on November 01

I gotcha the first time, Aardhart. It made for an amusing mental image.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:37 PM on November 01

Seems odd to me that players and fans throw the F word around like candy, but the first ever ban goes out for "monkey". For the record. I called my 4 year old a monkey just last night. Actually, I called her a "Monkey Butt"... is that worse or better?

posted by LostInDaJungle at 05:04 PM on November 03

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