Friday, June 10, 2011

PLEASE ALLOW BRYCE HARPER TO KICK THAT SOAPBOX OUT FROM UNDER YOU



A few days ago, I used Twitter to voice my displeasure with Bryce Harper's actions. I was just going to leave it at that, but between the recent termination of the Donnie Murphy Twitter account and the Marlins taking the month off, I suddenly find myself with enough time and motivation to thoroughly take this young asshole to task, as well as the soapbox mafia who inexplicably let him off the hook.

I'll start by telling you what I'm not. I'm not a baseball purist. I'm not someone who believes in the unwritten rules of the game. I routinely discuss no-hitters as they're happening. I'm not someone who was terribly upset with A-Rod walking across the pitchers mound last year or batters admiring their own towering blasts, so believe me when I tell you that I don't actually care that Bryce Harper taunted the pitcher after he hit that home run. That's apparently what set everyone off, but I could really give a shit. In fact, I'd like more of that in my baseball. What I can live without, though – and, ultimately, the reason I mentioned Donnie Murphy in the opening paragraph – is the seemingly harmless gesture he made.

You may not have read too much into it – and judging by the fact that nobody on the entire internet has brought this up yet, you obviously haven't – but by blowing kisses at another man, Bryce Harper might as well have just yelled out, "FAGGOT!"

I know what you're thinking already, because I've had this conversation before with a number of people. Your initial reaction is to think that I'm reading too far into things, that I'm making a bigger deal out of this than it actually is. But I'm not. And it is a bigger deal. The point of Harper blowing a kiss at the pitcher was to anger him by making him uncomfortable, attempting to trigger feelings of homophobia, suggesting that a man kissing another man is something the receiver of the pantomimed kiss should be appalled by. I'm not saying that Bryce Harper is an evil, homophobic redneck – though, holy shit, does he ever look like one – but, if we're ever going to expect a gay athlete to feel comfortable coming out, then we're going to have to greet things like this with something other than a shoulder shrug.

Last month, the NBA fined Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah ridiculous amounts of money for using homophobic slurs during the course of a game. Step in the right direction for the a caveman-infested sports world, right? Sure, I guess. But, you're telling me that the only time this happens is when it's caught on camera during a nationally televised playoff game? Of course not. David Stern wants you to believe that the NBA cares about the LGBT community and vanquishing intolerance, but the only thing he really cares about is how public perception will ultimately affect his bank account. The league can issue as many public service announcements as it wants, but show me the player who's been fined when the incident wasn't caught on camera, when the NBA wasn't forced into taking action. Show me the incident that materializes quietly, from within the league, and not because of any public outcry. Then, maybe, I'll believe that David Stern gives a rat's ass about what his players think of homosexuality.

Notice the number of bloggers who jumped up on their soapbox to blast Bryant and Noah, too. The same one's noticeably absent from this discussion. Such a comical farce. Any time the story is big enough and obvious enough and will attract enough eyeballs, the blogging community is there. We only pretend to care about taking stances, because clicks and page views are our ticket sales and concessions. We do just enough to say we care, but not enough to show it. We're the vegetarian who eats fish. We're the guy who keeps a kosher home, but eats at McDonald's. We're David Stern.

Which brings me back to Bryce Harper...

Blowing a kiss isn't as egregious as calling someone a "fucking faggot," obviously, but it still sends the same message. I'd imagine Harper didn't even give it a second thought, the way you didn't, the way Kobe wouldn't have if he weren't fined, but isn't that what we're trying to draw attention to? That little things like this have become so ingrained in our culture that they don't seem wrong at all? That we really need to pay more attention to our words and actions? I'm not saying that Bryce Harper should be fined or suspended, but if we're going to keep pretending that we stand for something, then this is a pretty good place to continue the conversation.

Unfortunately, the fact that this blog, a blog based solely on immoralities and dick jokes, is the only one who saw the deeper meaning in Harper's actions, probably tells you all you need to know about how much we truly give a shit.

So, you know, sorry, gay people. I promise we'll care more about your feelings as soon as you attach them to our next traffic spike.

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