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Vulgar Opinions: Krys Barch Resurrects A Touchy Subject (NSFW)

01/02/12
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I’m jumping the gun on this a little bit because I want to get my thoughts out there.  More information may come to light within the next few days that will alter the tone of this post drastically.

As it stands right now we have Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers having been ejected from a game against the Montreal Canadiens for supposedly using a racial slur directed towards P.K. Subban.  Incidents like this, unfortunately, have been all too common this year.  We’ve already had a fan throw a banana peel at Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, and a few days later Simmonds himself call Rangers forward Sean Avery a homophobic slur.

I wrote earlier that I don’t really care too much about trash talk.  I’m sure these incidents that have come to light are probably among the tamer things that have been said out on the ice.  It’s gamesmanship and a lot of these guys can call each other vile things one night during a game and then share a beer together a couple days later.  I don’t necessarily think it’s racist or homophobic when one player calls another a ni**er, a fa**ot, or anything in between.  I think it’s just an attempt to get a rise out of the other person in the easiest and most efficient manner possible.

What is homophobic is the NHL’s and society’s vastly disproportionate treatments of these events.  When a fan threw a banana peel on the ice at Wayne Simmonds, he was reportedly arrested and charged (with engaging in a prohibited activity on a premise under the provincial Trespass to Property Act), and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement condemning the act as did the Mayor of London, Ontario (where the game took place).  When that very same Wayne Simmonds was caught on camera (with no audio) calling Sean Avery a fa**ot, Simmonds was not punished, Gary Bettman had nothing to say, and the task of releasing a statement fell to NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan where he lumped sexual orientation in with several other attributes that are often victims of bigotry.  Simmonds went unpunished because there was no audio to go with the blatantly obvious video of the incident.

Now that Krys Barch has apparently used his own slur, this time one of race against black defenseman P.K. Subban, we’re here again.  I have to assume that there is no audio of this incident either, otherwise it would already have come to light.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barch will be getting a phone call from the NHL on Tuesday.  What will the NHL do?  If the NHL chooses to punish Barch for an incident that seems to have as little verification as the Simmonds-Avery incident it is sending a loud, clear, and very homophobic message.

The NHL will essentially be saying that instances of homophobia will be let go while other instances of bigotry-motivated hate will be punished.  Should that be the case, the NHL will have shown that it is not interested in protecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered individuals either on the ice or in its arenas.  That’s not just sad, it’s deeply disturbing.  There is no excuse for allowing a portion of your fanbase to be denigrated, bullied, and abused with no recourse.  For shame.

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