Vick Kills Dogs, DL Sticks it to Sisters
Is this the new face of Free Speech?
A number of people have been asking me to use the blog to respond to a myriad of current events. Usually, I can sidestep these requests with skill and ease. However, there are two pop issues that I probably should address.
1) I don't really like dogs. I once owned a mixed breed (I grew up using the term "mutt" but, apparently, dogs deserve as much respect, with regard to how they're labeled, as humans) named Tank, who, somewhat ironically, was run over by a Ford Fairmont station wagon. Ever since, it's been difficult for me to bond emotionally with canines. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate them. I merely believe that they occupy far too much real estate in the American consciousness. It's as if Americans, weaned on the legend of Old Yeller and television reruns of Lassie, assume that there is a direct correlation between their patriotism and the number of times they've allowed Max to climb up on their beds and kiss them in the mouths. And when dog owners invariably compare their living property with children....don't even get me started on that.
Having made my bias crystal clear, I have to admit that I don't exactly hate Michael Vick. Am I an apologist for him? Absolutely not. The crimes for which he'll be entering a plea are both morally repulsive and prosecution-worthy. But I, like many others, have certainly noticed the, let's say complexion of the disdain for Vick and it makes me uncomfortable. It also raises another issue. I don't think many white Americans, particularly sports enthusiasts, have ever felt loose and easy with Number 7. Michael Vick's style of play - decidedly athletic and freewheeling and, let's face it, BLACK - has engendered a reaction from some whites that ranges from curiosity to outright contempt. This isn't a non-issue. I believe that if a traditional quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady had committed these atrocities, the public call for blood would be noticeably more muted. For Joe Sixpack, Vick's more significant crime might be not learning to stay his ass in the pocket. As always though, I could be wrong.
2) I think that the outrage borne out of DL Hughley's comments is deserved and righteous. After having read a combative and pointedly unremorseful interview with him, I'm even more disappointed. Let's keep in mind that Hughley chose to dog these women on the most popular late night television in the country, and did so in front of a predominately white audience. This ain't the Chitlin' Circuit to which he's accustomed. Furthermore, Hughley's "truth" - that these women are "some of the ugliest women I've ever seen" - is completely subjective and undoubtedly colored by white, racist standards of beauty. Also, his statements were fresh on the heels of the Imus debacle. Haven't these women had to endure enough public ridicule? AND, despite his poorly thought out intentions, the shit that he said wasn't even funny.
Before you Free Speech absolutists start foaming at the mouth, I'd argue that this isn't a free speech issue. No sensible person makes a Free Speech Mountain out of a Faux Pas molehill. Did DL Hughley have the right to say what he said? Damn tootin'. Should his social responsibility as a black man living in a historically and presently racist country outweigh his desire to sneak one in at the expense of black women in general and the Rutger's Women's Basketball team in particular? Hell yes.