Wrenching at My Head

If you don’t want somebody driving, then don’t give him the keys. If you gave somebody the keys, don’t complain about why and where they are driving.

So Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers was fined 75K for his use of a “homophobic” slur. What are we to make of this? The issue is not whether Hibbert has bad manners, or whether he has a potty mouth, or whether our mothers ought to let us play with him anymore.

If your reaction was something like “how could he have said something so thoughtless and offensive?” then you can stick a fork in your worldview conscience — it’s almost done. That is not the question at all. I have no wonderment at all over why professional athletes say and do offensive things. My question is this — who is in charge of what language counts as offensive? Who is in charge of this, and more to the point, why are they in charge?

We should understand by now the inescapability of all societal discipline — all together now, not whether but which. The issue is not whether we will have speech codes, but rather which speech codes we will have. But if we will have societal speech codes, how does one get appointed to the inviso-board that determines that the word homo can cost you upwards of 75K? And that’s with the groveling apology. I mean, that’s almost 19K a letter.

To answer the question, a true thumbsucker, we have to dig a little deeper. There is another related inescapable concept in addition to the one about speech codes, and it is the one that answers the question just posed.

Justification is another inescapable concept. Every society has a group within it that is justified — righteousness is imputed to it. And every society has a group that is unjustified — a group that can be dumped on with impunity. Righteousness and unrighteousness are categories we cannot do without — we must have bad guys and good guys. Which will it be? Those who do homo, or those who say homo?
Conservatives who made the mistake of accepting the myth of secular neutrality are the most befuddled by this. Night after night, they complain to the studio cameras down at Fox News. They are constantly pointing out the double standard in how liberals and conservatives are treated, and it would almost be cute if it were not so sad. Having typed that last phrase, I have changed my mind. It would almost be sad if it were not so cute.

They point out the double standard with the endearing expectation that the person they are talking to will suddenly see it, look startled for a moment, and then say, “Oh, dear. I see what you mean. Nobody would ever get fined anything for calling Jeremy Lin a Jesus freak.”

In our secular society, this expectation of fair play between a member of the justified group and one from an unjustified group is like going to Calcutta in the 19th century, and trying to take an untouchable garbage collector into the swankiest Brahman Bistro you could find.

A double standard on such matters does not mean the system has broken down — it means the system is working as designed. Whether the system is good or evil is defined (by God) on the basis of who we have placed in the justified group. We will have a justified group, and they will define for us what is socially offensive and what is not. That definition will either line up with what God thinks (and with the way the world is), or it will not. If it does not line up, as in our day it most certainly does not, then there is very little to do other than to grab a fistful of your hair with each hand, and spend every moment of the evening news wrenching at your head.

If the king chases all lawless men away from his court, the people rejoice. If the king has a bunch of homos there — and the present writer looks warily overhead for the sight of any approaching drones — then the prevailing speech codes will reflect it. One of these days I may have to take up a PayPay collection so that you all can help me pay my 75K fine . . . I mean my Free Speech Blog License Subsidy Fee. Fee speech, not free speech.

What should our response to all of this be? First, we need to cultivate enough sense to notice that we are being policed. It begins negatively, with things you may not do or say. This is a slur, that is discriminatory business, and this sermon over here was a hate crime. From that point it moves on to an insistence on positive affirmation — an oath of allegiance is required. This has already happened at the Justice Department — sodomy must be affirmed, and not just not attacked. The third level involves the various shock therapies that have proven so effective in dealing with those hate nodes in the brain.

Whenever you are being policed, and the code you are being policed by is ungodly, and you become aware of what is happening, you need to make a point of putting your foot through the side of the whole thing. Don’t tell yourself that it “is not a big deal.” If it really were not a big deal, they wouldn’t be policing it, would they? They are policing it for a reason, and your job is to give them something to police. If they want to write tickets so much, then start parking by the hydrant.

The principle is easy enough to see. Who cares about Christmas trees at the county courthouse? The devil, apparently.

Now lest some tenderhearted Christians get the wrong idea here, I can imagine circumstances when slurs directed against homosexuals would be entirely uncharitable to use. Of course. But the Bible should be our guide in all that, and not the queens of drama. Whether or not homo is okay to use should not be determined by word mechanics who have allowed themselves to become . . . what’s the word I am looking for? . . . homogenized, that’s it. So while we are here, this entirely workable word homo should never be counted as a slur — it’s an abbreviation, for pity’s sake, an exercise in verbal economy. It shows admirable restraint. Just like me.

It is also a prohibited term in the official Vichy Vocabulary Form Book, a fact that I shall make a point of remembering.

  • http://www.russellandduenes.wordpress.com Michael Duenes

    Yep, that’s why Harry Reid could speak publicly about President Obama’s “negro dialect” and remain the Senate Majority Leader. He’s one of the “justified” ones. Dubya, on the other hand, not so much. He’d have been impeached.

  • Robert

    At the moment he retires from sports, he should file a Federal Civil Rights Claim. I have been praying for an thlate to have the guts to do this. Let the PR was begin

  • jared leonard

    Does it make a difference that NBA players sign a contract which possibly includes rules of conduct wherein such use of language in an official capacity (such as post-game interviews) is prohibited? I mean, there is precedent in the NBA for this kind of fine; Kobe Bryant was fined 100k for his homo-hiccup a few seasons ago. In that case it isn’t necessarily (or simply) a matter of the secret shenanigans of some “hidden” social institute that supposedly regulates these sort of things, is it?

  • Melody

    Had he used the term “homophobe” he would have gotten a 75K raise.

  • David Douglas

    Very instructive.

    And more Pavlovian bells (a blog whistle?) to cue, predictably, more and higher dudgeon from your local blogroll of critics.

    This post has something for everyone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Robert

    You can’t sign away your Federally protected rights. What would happen if a Christian NBA player publiclly endorsed a Christian politician and spoke at rallies?

  • Rob Steele

    “Blog whistle.” Heh.

  • Gianni

    “Conservatives . . . are constantly pointing out the double standard in how liberals and conservatives are treated. . . . A double standard on such matters does not mean the system has broken down — it means the system is working as designed.”

    This is so eye-opening. Thanks. The double standard is the whole point. Conservatives often talk as if the fighting is over fairness and equality of treatment, but the battle is to be fought elsewhere. Who is he that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? That’s where the action is.

    Here you reveal both the evil idolatry of secular liberalism and the cute idolatry of secular conservatism. Cute because powerless, and powerless because it misses the point. And it misses the point because it sees faithfulness to the Triune God as a “good point” at best, rather than absolutely foundational to the cause.

    “If you don’t want somebody driving, then don’t give him the keys. If you gave somebody the keys, don’t complain about why and where they are driving.”

    The problem exactly.

  • Gianni

    “The principle is easy enough to see. Who cares about Christmas trees at the county courthouse? The devil, apparently.”

    Hilarious, and spot on.

  • Nate Douglas

    The thing is it’s not even “homophobic”. It’s just a fad going on right now, especially in the community, that’s worked in after a person uttered a sentence that could be taken in a homosexual way. Just because one says “No homo” doesn’t mean they’re “anti-homo”. It’s like combining Seinfeld’s “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” and The Office’s “That’s what she said”.

  • http://www.tkylebryant.com Kyle B

    This was great, as always. And thanks for pointing out that the system was designed to work that way. Makes it a whole lot easier to understand why.

  • Jonathan

    “You can’t sign away your Federally protected rights.”

    Not sure how this is a Federally protected right. Can a Christian pastor say whatever they want without fear of being penalized by their church employer?

  • Jonathan

    (I should clarify that I think the fine was incredibly stupid, I just don’t think it was unconstitutional.)

  • Jon Swerens

    Even more hilarious is that the phrase originated in hip hop culture, another protected species in the current zeitgeist. So, now what?

  • http://churchandworld.wordpress.com Isaac


    I don’t see anywhere that the author says there is a secret society. In fact, he says quite the opposite. He says that all of this is done out in the open. There is a vast difference between a conspiracy and indoctrination. A conspiracy entails a secret agenda by a few people or groups of people. Indoctrination is done out in the open. It is something that takes hold of every part of a persons life. SInce youth a person has a certain worldview fed to them through education, media, entertainment etc. This views is then enforced by their own peers who themselves have been indoctrinated. It is further enforced by rewards and penalties such as this 75k fine, or other types of social shunning.

    Religions have done this forever, but the problem is that this new age society we live in acts like it isn’t a religion even though it functions just like one. It would be one thing if the social forces admitted that they were enforcing their worldview upon us. Then we could at least have vigorous debate. But is a whole other thing when they claim that their worldview is neutral and natural, and is a result of finally undoing the religious forces that bound humanity for so long.

    I would encourage you to study the period of the Enlightenment and the philosophy and social engineering that has been going on since then. Our society is merely a product of generations of intentional thought by academic, political, and social elitists whose ideas have finally trickled down into the mainstream and are now the operating forces in this society we share. There is no conspiracy or secret societies. There is intentional indoctrination done publicly and openly by various elements in society, and this indoctrination has created a certain society which is called a progressive society. Societies have always functioned this way, and this society is no different. The only difference is that they don’t admit it. They do it under the guise of freedom and progress and tolerance, and yet they are very intolerant, progressing only in one direction, and very shunning of any true freedom which would actually give for the possibility of a rejection of this society they have created.

  • John R.

    Jared: I think the point would be that *someone* still decided that the word “homo” was going to be punishable in the NBA. That didn’t just come out of nowhere. The only reason it’s in their contracts is because the NBA is answering to someone on this nomenclature–and it certainly isn’t the average NBA fan.

  • John R.

    P.S. And when I say the NBA is “answering to someone on this nomenclature,” I don’t mean that they’re answering to someone behind closed doors by the candle light at the lodge with wild boars being sacrificed. When speech codes are rigorously enforced, everyone gets in line very quickly so as to stay out of trouble–including easily-intimidated sports leagues. The response by many, who want to show how eager they are to obey, is to themselves become junior enforcers of the code.

  • jared leonard


    My verbiage was in response to Doug saying “But if we will have societal speech codes, how does one get appointed to the inviso-board that determines that the word homo can cost you upwards of 75K?” and presuming that “inviso-board” = “secret shenanigans”. The idea is that we don’t see the machinations of the “inviso-board”, only the results (such as Doug’s example). Having received a philosophy degree at a liberal arts college (a Christian one, no less) I am very well aware of what has shaped our current culture. I don’t disagree with Doug’s overall point, just (perhaps) the example he is using as a springboard.

    John R.,

    I don’t disagree with the point, in general. Obviously American culture at large has shaped how the NBA executes judgment with regards to any conduct policies written into the player contracts. But the fact remains that players have signed those contracts and, thus, are liable to whatever fines are levied against them. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that an NBA player is fined for breaking the rules, that’s what happens when rules are broken. This state of affairs makes Doug’s initial questions seem silly on their face. Who is in charge of what language counts as offensive? Well, the people who run the NBAPA are in charge of it for NBA players who find themselves in certain public situations (e.g. during a game, team training, pre and post game, etc.). They are in charge because the players have willingly submitted themselves to their respective contracts. What’s so egregious about this? The NBA fining its players is hardly representative of “all societal discipline” because (currently) people in general aren’t (and can’t be) fined for saying what Mr. Hibbert said. I think Doug’s point is still valid, and certainly relevant, but I don’t think this particular example serves as a good target for his principled plinking.

  • http://getbibleverses.com Mike

    “So while we are here, this entirely workable word homo should never be counted as a slur”

    So are you now in charge of which words are offensive and which ones are not? :)

  • Aaron

    fully agree with this post. . here here!!

    However, some (and perhaps Doug) might be unaware that the NBA is a dictatorship of which David Stern is the dictator. It’s been this way with courtside dress (which some rightly declared racists. . no matter, Stern gets what he wants), postgame comments about officials, any negative comments towards the league, etc. . . . .

    To put it frankly, the NBA (and other pro sports leagues) aren’t America, they are protected by anti-trust legislation and can do what they want with no competition.

    A bigger question might be: what in American society makes David Stern think he has to behave this way towards “offensive” comments? Obviously Stern is trying to sell his league to the most people as possible. . where did the pressure come from to outlaw this language? Why did it happen so fast? Why doesn’t any player try a 1st amendment lawsuit against the league?

  • jared leonard


    You don’t have a case when you sign an agreement that says you won’t do/say those sorts of things. Or, perhaps more accurately, when you sign an agreement that says you’ll abide by what the NBAPA says when evaluating those sorts of things.

  • Sarah

    My dear aunt was born in 1965 with the name Gay to faithful Bible-believing parents. I have been using “homo” rather than “gay” for her sake, and because it is just quicker to spit out than “homosexual.” So, if anyone is at all worried about being uncharitable, just remember how my aunt must feel about them stealing her name.

  • Aaron


    True, I’m aware of that. I guess I just wonder if we’re so lost down the trail of political correctness that someone wouldn’t bring a 1st Amendment suit against the collective bargaining agreement that mandates such softened speech? Let’s move beyond the current controversy for a moment. . what about the legitimate criticism of officials? I know all the players signed a document from the NBAPA, but why should we just accept that document as legal? If a large group of people want to forfeit their 1st amendment rights, I think there should be some required constitutional disclaimers in such a document.