Thursday, January 17, 2008

Climbing back on the soapbox... just for a minute

So I've already stated where I stand on Kelly Tilghman's comment about lynching Tiger Woods (not that anybody cares what I think, nor should they). No, she did not intend harm with her comment -- in fact, it was made in the context of complimenting Tiger on his dominance of modern golf. Nevertheless, her comment displayed an ignorance and insensitivity that simply does not belong on a national news forum (I know, I know, no one actually watches the Golf Network... I'm making a point here, sir). I think the consequences she faced were necessary and appropriate, and I think it's very important for media outlets (even stuffy, boring ones like the Golf Network) to adopt a no-tolerance policy towards offensive comments and behavior.

Apparently, Golfweek disagrees with me -- or, at the very least, they're missing the point. Here is the cover of the January 19th issue of Golfweek:

Ah yes. Let us fail to internalize the fundamental message behind the Tilghman affair, which is simply this: the language and symbolism of nooses and hanging are loaded with bitter memories and linked to decades of hatred, and thus should be treated with extreme caution. Moreover, let us refuse to let an issue be resolved and let a chastened reporter get on with her life and her career. Let us, instead, put an image of a noose on our front cover; let us continue to drag this story out; let us display a deliberate callousness towards those who have been hurt by this unfortunate incident (most directly, Kelly Tilghman and Tiger Woods).

(At least, that's how I imagine the editors of a magazine like Golfweek must sound.)

This, however, is what really caught my attention:

In the magazine's news story, noted sociologist Harry Edwards, said the public should accept Tilghman's apology.

"If we stopped the train every time somebody made a dumb remark that is potentially offensive," he is quoted as saying, "we'd never progress as a society."

Really? Because to be perfectly honest, I actually think that what keeps us from progressing as a society is that people continue to tolerate "borderline" remarks and attitudes that seem innocuous enough that people fail to realize that their existence is actually symptomatic of the much uglier truth that real racism and sexism exists in pure, unadulterated form in many regions of the country. Like the guy who tried to strike up a conversation with me while we were waiting for the T in East Boston the other day about how many "fucking Spanish people" there were around us. (I'm Latina, dude.)

So, while I certainly feel for Kelly Tilghman and agree with Edwards' assertion that she should be forgiven, I also think it's very important that the "train be stopped" in situations like this so that we can all take a moment to reassess our own values and acknowledge that the battle against prejudice is never truly won.


Comicbook Guy said...

1. I do listen to what you write.
2.Kelly is an idiot.
3. Golfweek? who the hell cares but they need a good kick in the ass for that cover

futuremrsrickankiel said...

Thanks... nice to know someone listens other than my parents.