Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Political Correctness Is Alive and Well and Living on Sports Talk Radio

Recently, San Francisco Bay Area sports talk radio station KNBR fired their evening talk show host, Larry Krueger. Krueger's sin? In a rant about the San Francisco Giants baseball team's poor play, he complained about "brain-dead Caribbean" players swinging at too many bad pitches. When the firestorm hit the next day, Krueger apologized and asked to meet with Giants' manager Felipe Alou. Mr. Alou not only refused the apology & refused to meet with Krueger, he described Krueger as a "messenger of Satan." Startled by this reaction, KNBR, which had originally suspended Krueger, fired him. While they were at it, they also fired Tony Rhein, a morning show producer who had mocked Alou's overreaction, and Manager Bob Agnew, for unspecified crimes. Now, to my knowledge, no one has seriously contended that Krueger is actually a racist or did anything more than make an unfortunate and insensitive remark. But that remark was enough to lose him his job. To fully understand the horror of this, one should know two things. First, it is so well-known and commonly acknowledged that Caribbean players are free-swingers that there is a well known phrase to describe it -- "You don't walk off the island." The saying means simply that you are more likely to get noticed by a major league scout and make it to the big leagues, hence "off the island," by hitting away than by taking a walk. Second, the Bay Area has another team, the Oakland A's. Early this season, when the A's were losing, there was a spirited debate in the media here about whether the team had too many white players who were taking too many pitches! I know of no one who was accused of racism or who lost their job over that controversy (which, by the way, didn't last long; folks tended to shut up when the A's started winning and went from last place to first). Now, I know the comment was insensitive, perhaps even racist. And I know KNBR has an absolute right to kick off their air any one for any reason. This really isn't a free speech issue. But it is sad that we have reached the point that a single, heat-of-the-moment apologized-for comment that did no worse than feed into existing stereotypes can cost a man his job. I wrote to KNBR in protest and never received so much as an automatically generated reply. I know there are now limits on what anyone can say in public, but I can't imagine such limits are healthy for our society. Felipe Alou is 70 years old and knows what real racism is like -- he lived through the real thing. He ought to be able to tell the difference between the real thing and Krueger's comment. Which leads to a whole other blog entry on hyper-sensitivity and how the definition of racism has changed over the years. But that's another entry for another time.