I’d love to eliminate all racism. I don’t know a thing about Duane “Dog” Chapman and on the face of it, things may seem to work when a racist takes a fall, but something about it makes me worry in an Orwellian sense.
While acting on your racism is a crime. Being racist isn’t necessarily and I don’t think that it necessarily should. People could argue that it’s impossible to hold power and be a racist and never act on it, and perhaps, actually, that’s true.
The recent people that have been taken down by their use of the N word, have all had sponsors or fans to deal with, and one could easily smile and say that in this case the competitive market place works. The people spoke and said we won’t have this.
The outing of racists on the internet scares me though. Just the idea of people recording you during the worst thirty seconds of your life and then using it to end your career, it seems sort of Nazi like. Something about it just scares me. The whole thing bespeaks of a merited McCarthyism, but somehow I really think that those tactics are always wrong no matter the current cause. My guess is that it spills into a more dangerous era with dreadful implications.
It scares me that an otherwise decent person can ruin his life’s reputation in 30 seconds. It bespeaks to me of mind and thought control. Chapman only lost his job, but perhaps in the future things could get uglier.
The first big case like this that I can remember is Al Campanis, who blew his life up on Nightline. Campanis was asked why there were no blacks in baseball’s upper management and Campanis’ answer that “blacks may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager” was unfortunate. Here was a guy who as a high ranking member of the Los Angeles Dodgers did have the power over hiring people to those very jobs and he said something that seemed insanely racist.
But to look at it another way, Campanis was a 70 year old guy whose life had been completely in baseball. No one really ever credibly argued that he was a severe racist. In fact, he’d been asked to be on the show because of his friendship with Jackie Robinson, who was being honored that night. Campanis was likely a guy who was one of the least racist men around in the 1950s. Unfortunately, he never really changed with the times. I’m glad that he was no longer able to effect hiring decisions for the Dodgers, but it concerns me that his entire life and name be tarnished so vehemently forever.
Life passes some people by, and we keep evolving our ideas, hopefully in a forward direction. It’s my guess that if you took the least racist 10% of society from say 1900 and looked at them today that they would appear extremely racist now, but while it’s important to understand the limits to their consciousness as people, isn’t it really more of a societal problem than something to slur a person’s entire historical reputation on?
The Campanis flap actually spurred a lot of positive changes in sports hiring. It gave the issue traction, but still a small part of me wishes that someone had seen that the times had passed Al by and eased him into retirement before he blew up on TV.
I find myself unable to express this very well. Part of me thinks that these firings are good and show the system is working, but the other half of me is scared to death. I wouldn’t want to live under a Joe McCarthy or Adolf Hitler even if their causes seemed to be right and noble, and I sort of pray that the whole thing stays where it is now going after high profile televised morons with nothing else of value to say.