Friday, November 27, 2009

PC gone wild

We’ve gotten to a point in our culture where we have to watch every single thing we say; jokes aren’t funny, and people take everything too literally.

There is one type of humor that is especially off-limits – racial or ethnic humor. We are so worried about political correctness that we can’t even mention any race or ethnicity without someone being offended.

A few weeks ago, college football announcer Bob Griese was suspended for making a comment about Columbian NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya. During a promotional spot, a graphic was shown listing the top five drivers in NASCAR’s points race. Fellow analyst Chris Spielman asked where was driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who is Colombian. Griese replied: "Out having a taco."

Insensitive? Yes. Deserving of a suspension despite repeated apologies? I don't believe so.
I guess what announcers and people in general need to realize is that any ethnic or racial jokes are completely forbidden.

I can kind of see why Griese was suspended, not that I agree with it, and I can certainly see why people like Don Imus - who made completely racist and unacceptable comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team a few years ago - are suspended or fired. If something offends an entire group of people, then it shouldn’t be said, and if it is said, then the offended should be punished.

However, this past week our overreaction to political correctness boiled over. After a NBA game between the L.A. Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies, two basketball announcers were suspended for an exchange regarding the first Iranian player in the NBA.

Los Angeles Clippers TV announcers Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith were suspended for one game because after they spoke of Hamed Haddidi, a Clippers fan who watched the telecast complained about the verbal exchange and said he was owed an apology today from Fox Sports.

One viewer made a complaint, and because of that, the announcers were forced to apologize for what I see as a simple error. The comment that the viewer complained about was the pronunciation of "Iranian." Apparently Smith pronounced it "Eye-Ranian," which the viewer found offensive.

An announcer should not have to publically apologize or be reprimanded for pronunciation, unless it is meant in an offensive manner. In this case, it was not anything except someone with a slight regional accent saying the word "Iranian" in a different pronunciation than is normally viewed as correct.

The official apology released was: "We regret the remarks made by Clippers announcers Michael Smith and Ralph Lawler during Wednesday's telecast. While we believe that Michael and Ralph did not intend their exchange to be offensive, the comments were inappropriate."

So in other words, they said something, meant nothing by it, but have to apologize because it could have been taken the wrong way. Give me a break!

People need to realize that sports announcers are in the business of entertainment, and their exchange was banter trying to be humorous.

Maybe the complaint was taken so seriously because of the tumultuous relationship we currently have with Iran, or maybe we’ve gotten to the point where we quite literally can’t even refer to a person’s race, ethnicity or country of origin when discussing them. It’s PC run wild.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not PC enough.

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