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Vulgar Opinions: NHL Sets Not One, But Two Dangerous Precedents (NSFW)

01/05/12
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I don’t know if this will actually be NSFW, all I know is that we’re talking about slurs so it’s kind of NSFW in that anyways.  And yes, this is filler text leading up to the jump where I can tell you how I really feel.

Okay, there are two different directions here and I’m going to pick what I think to be the overriding of the two to talk about first before getting to the one that is more important to me personally.  How god damned stupid is the NHL trying to legislate what is said in private on the ice?  I say in private because between the Simmonds and Barch incidents, we have video-only in one and an official’s word in the other (with an eventual Barch confession).  Is that not the slipperiest slope ever if you’re the NHL?  Where do you draw the line?  Retard, pussy, faggot, dyke, moron, geek, shithead, asshole, goon, joke…all these are used a billion times a game and all of them are offensive to someone  on some  level.  Where do you draw the line if you’re the NHL?  Is it okay to call Gerbe a midget because he’s small, is it okay to call Cody McCormick a goon because he’ll end the season with more PIM than points?

This is a dumb topic and the NHL never should have started it.  If a player is caught on camera saying something (and in doing so embarassing the league), then punish the shit out of them.  If an official catches them, then let it go.  You know what PK Subban can do if he doesn’t like what Krys Barch says?  Kick his ass.  That’s the beauty of hockey.

But…and here is where it gets personal, the NHL did decide that they have a say in trash talk…kind of.   The Simmonds comment was worse because it was an actual slur.  It is specifically meant to demean gay men.  Barch’s comment (“did you slip on a banana peel” after Subban fell over) can be applied to any other player in the league that falls over regardless of their race.  (And a random aside, major props to Krys Barch for owning up to what he said, like a respectable human being.)

The message that the NHL is sending in all this is that there is tolerance for gay slurs, but not racial ones.  That is a really dangerous precedent for the NHL to set.  It suggests that they have no interest in protecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered players or even fans.  And if you want to say that the video isn’t enough proof, then fine.  They’re STILL not concerned enough about protecting LGBT individuals since their officials aren’t on the lookout for such language.  We’re in the exact same place any way you want to slice it.

You know what I think?  I think the NHL is a bunch of big fucking cowards that balked at punishing a player for something that is accepted by a large percentage of the population and by extension their fanbase.  I think they were looking for any excuse to not punish Simmonds and they found it by way of a lack of audio (and probably a little bit in the Simmonds-victimization in the earlier banana peel incident and that the victim in this case was Sean Avery).

The NHL seems like big fucking cowards all around in changing this “old time hockey” myth that it’s old guard seems to have by avoiding doing things that are good for their fans, their players, and hockey in general.  That’s the trouble in a sport with a lot of history, to many people, the past is always better than the present, whether that’s not letting a black guy play, not protecting the heads of your star players, or not protecting certain demographics of your fan base.

Because (and it may be hyperbole) the writing on the wall is that LGBT individuals are not safe in NHL arenas because the league is not concerned about their well being.  And the league can make all the generic, watered down statements about how bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated, but that’s all bullshit because they just tolerated it.  EVEN IF the league is stupid enough to not think Simmonds said what the video shows he said, they can do a whole hell of a lot better at taking a stand on the issue as an organization.

“All players, coaches and officials in the National Hockey League deserve the respect of their peers and have the absolute right to function in a work environment that is free from racially or sexually based innuendo or derision,” Colin Campbell, the league’s director of hockey operations, said in a statement.

“We have for many years emphasized to our clubs and players that commentary directed at the race or ethnicity of other participants in the game (or even nonparticipants), or that is otherwise socially or morally inappropriate or potentially hurtful — including as it may relate to sexual orientation — is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Campbell said (on the Simmonds-Avery incident.)

How fucking weak is that.  How fucking pathetic is it for the league to generically mention sexual orientation (along with other things) and then go on to highlight race in an incident that was NEVER ABOUT RACE TO BEGIN WITH.  It’s almost like he regretted that he had to mention sexual orientation at all and didn’t believe in a single word that was coming out of his own mouth.  What an embarrassment.  We should all be ashamed of this organization and of the people running it.

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