Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Kobe Bryant Fined $100K For Anti-Gay Slur: A Special Comment

Los Angeles, California – Kobe Bryant, controversial star of the Los Angeles Lakers, has been fined $100,000 for an anti-gay slur he mouthed on live television at a referee.  As E! Online reports, the National Basketball Association (NBA) fined Bryant after investigating the incident.  Bryant, angry at being given a technical foul by Referee Bennie Adams, called the ref a “fucking faggot” in such a way that it was captured live by the camera at last night’s Lakers game with the San Antonio Spurs. NBA Commissioner David Stern swiftly disciplined the five-time national champion guard, saying to Free Republic”Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable. While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. … Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.” The action of the NBA drew praise from LGBTQ rights advocacy groups who had protested the use of the slur.  In a statement Bryant issued through the L.A. Lakers organization, Bryant had tried to defuse the anger of gay rights groups by saying that he didn’t mean anything by it. “What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period,” Bryant averred. ”The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.” Who does he think he’s fooling? The Human Rights Campaign said to TMZ Sports“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching.” The HRC has a point.  Language has consequences. Words can ignite lethal acts. Especially for groups who face threats of physical, social, and spiritual violence daily, as LGBTQ people do. The people who say to queer folk, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” simply do not live in the same psycho-social universe that the rest of us do. The linkage between anti-gay slurs and epithets, and acts of bias-driven violence has been well-establshed by law enforcement. One of the unmistakable markers looked for by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help determine if an assault should be investigated as a hate crime is the use of derogatory, anti-LGBTQ language during the committal of the crime. And the link between verbal attacks on queer folk and hate speech is clearly an organic one. Bryant’s disdain for gays and lesbians was openly on display for the world to see and hear, reinforcing cultural and religious bias against gender variant and same sex loving people.  HRC went on to say, “Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] people around the world, but also perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate.” Youth worship NBA stars like Bryant.  They model themselves after their heroes in fashion, prowess, and, pertinent for this inquiry, in opinion. The sports shoe industry has know that for a very long time. At the very least, Bryant’s verbal foul supports a culture of discrimination and intimidation that has kept gay and lesbian athletes deeply closeted for decades, making the sports closet arguably the most pernicious in American life today.  One has only to reflect on the rarest of all queer celebrities: out professional sports figures. So, the Unfinished Lives Project Team stands with HRC President, Joe Solmonese when he said today, “We applaud Commissioner Stern and the NBA for not only fining Bryant but for recognizing that slurs and derogatory comments have no place on the basketball court or in society at large. We hope such swift and decisive action will send a strong and universal message that this kind of hateful outburst is simply inexcusable no matter what the context.” It is past time to require professional sports teams and coaching organizations to do sensitivity and diversity training inclusive of LGBTQ concerns. Kobe Bryant apparently doesn’t know better until he gets caught.  The Lakers went on to win the game.  Kobe lost, big time. We at Unfinished Lives believe in order for things to get better in the locker room and on the court, athletes must be taught what is at stake when they “foul” the air.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Kobe Bryant, Lesbian women, National Basketball Association (NBA), Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Queer, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Kobe Bryant Fined $100K For Anti-Gay Slur: A Special Comment

   

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: