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On Saturday night, after his teammate Dwayne Wade was asked a somewhat inane question, LeBron James muttered, “that’s retarded” under his breath.
Not that I’m a LeBron fan, but it was disappointing.
What was even worse for me was his defense of his actions Monday morning:
“I didn’t understand the question,” James said. “…it’s the same as me saying, ‘I don’t think that’s a great question’ or, ‘I think it’s a stupid question.’ …I don’t know why someone would even ask him that question.”
As Charlie Zegers at About.com points out, then according to LeBron, “retarded” and “stupid” are synonyms.
Good job, LeBron!
It really got me down.
But I didn’t stay down too long. By the end of the day, I actually felt kind of good. It wasn’t LeBron’s comment or his defense that I felt good about. No, it was the across-the-board condemnation of both on sports radio here in Boston – from the morning shows into the evening hours, every sports radio talk show I tuned into, both on AM and FM, universally ridiculed LeBron for his use of the word.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the radio show hosts, but suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised that both left and right leaning personalities were on the same page on this topic.
Now, I’m not particularly PC. I do lean left on most politically social issues, but I also feel that the far left (along with the far right) has hijacked both the political discussion and process that is supposed to serve you and me. That being said, I feel there are some words that should be rarely, if ever, uttered – retarded is one of them.
It is hurtful; it is mean; it is lazy.
Kevin Arnovitz at the ESPN Heat Index Blog wrote this:
I also don’t think it’s hypersensitive to ask people to be more precise with their language — not as a political imperative, but because it’s so easy to do. This is life’s ultimate value play: We refrain from stigmatizing groups of people with our speech at very little cost, and we reap the benefit of collective dignity and knowing we didn’t hurt anyone. How does this play out in the practical world?
If a reporter asks a silly or inappropriate question, call it silly or inappropriate.
There was a time when the public reaction would have been to laugh at or ignore LeBron’s comment. I have come to realize that those that stand by and “let” hurtful things happen to others while they passively observe are just as guilty as those that perpetrate the hurt. Needless to say, it still happens, but it was nice to see that some progress has been made.
I hope that LeBron figures it out. Like it or not, he is a role model.