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.