White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen referred to Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti as a "fag" on Tuesday and in doing so stirred up a hornet's nest. It is unfortunate he chose to use that word, because Mariotti, noted douchebag, deserves whatever insults he receives. Examples of his imbecility are legion: he threatens violence for petty disagreements; he insults players without confronting them personally; he is a shameless bandwagon-jumper; he refuses to gather knowledge on the subjects on which he pontificates (links via Deadspin).
But Guillen used a word he shouldn't have, and now, instead of enjoying a hack being called out, we must endure a kabuki dance of public shaming on behalf of political correctness. There will be complaints and denunciations and eventually some compromise that forces Guillen to publicly humiliate himself before the hyper-politicized; I don't believe that a mere apology or even a suspension will end this.
Homosexuals are extraordinarily upset at what he said, and have dredged up one additional instance of a similar insult. Guillen, for his part, defends himself by saying that he didn't intend to hurt a group of people but only intended to express rage at a single individual. I don't think this will placate many homosexuals, but it is probably close to the truth: he used a word that he thought would hurt Mariotti, but failed to consider who else he might hurt.
Mariotti has not yet commented -- likely because doing so before July 1 would exceed his quota for pompous -- but Tribune columnist Greg Couch has. Couch ripped into Guillen: "What matters is the man who most stands for this organization is throwing around such nasty and hurtful homophobic terms. The issue here is not Mariotti." Couch also does not buy Guillen's excuse that Venezuelans don't use that term in the same way as Americans: Guillen has been criticized for using the word at issue in the past, and can't really make that claim anymore.
Also in Crouch's column is this sentence, one that is utterly unsatirizable: "[Guillen] also said that he has gay friends, goes to WNBA games, went to the Madonna concert and plans to attend the Gay Games in Chicago."
Meanwhile, despite this turmoil, the White Sox are demolishing the Cardinals for the second night in a row: it is the top of the 6th at U.S. Cellular and the Sox lead the Cardinals 13-3.
UPDATE: Mariotti has responded to Guillen, and that response is utterly in keeping with his reputation. From Teddy Greenstein of the Tribune:
Surprising, though, was that Mariotti accused his own newspaper of having a pro-Sox bias that resulted in one of his columns being pulled during the 2005 World Series.
Outrageous, unsubstantiated allegations from Mariotti? I don't believe it!
"I wouldn't be forthright and honest if I didn't tell you I have my own doubts about my paper and its relationship with the White Sox," Mariotti replied. "We've had discussions about it, so I'm not speaking out of school.
Technically, if you had discussions about it, and those discussions were not public, that is speaking out of school.
In 2004, Mariotti accused WMVP-AM 1000 of trying to curry favor with Reinsdorf in an attempt to retain its Sox radio rights. The station parted ways with Mariotti after 11 months, with officials saying he was impossible to work with.
Not a shock.
After criticizing the Sox for not protecting him in the wake of "physical threats," Mariotti acknowledged the threats "really don't involve anyone there now."
"[But] until they come up with some sort of professional standard for how they deal with me in that clubhouse," he said, "I'm going to play by my own rules."
He makes it sound like he's in a Steven Segal movie.
"This is a direct slur. Personally, people call me worse when I'm ordering coffee in the morning at Starbucks. I get worse at home."
He gets worse at home? Now I feel sorry for him.
"When you're a critic, you have to accept criticism and I accept it. But this goes over the line. It shows a certain hatred."
Yes, a certain hatred of you! And it's cute how he tries to make it sound like Guillen committed a hate crime -- a nice, passive-agressive way to get other people to fight his battles.
UPDATE 2: Mariotti has now posted a column on this controversy. He only wants to save Guillen from himself. How noble.
UPDATE 3: Ozzie Guillen has been fined and ordered to attend sensitivity training as punishment for his verbal attack on Jay Mariotti. Jay Mariotti has yet to be penalized for being a dufus.
I've seen only one comment that suggests this punishment and Guillen's earlier apology to the gay community is insufficient, and it comes from 365Gay.com: "LGBT activists and other sports commentators called the apology too little too late, noting it was not his first anti-gay outburst." Since I doubt that remark indicates an upswell of anger amongst homosexuals, I conclude I was wrong that this would be a drawn out process of demands and apologies. Normally, betting that a group of hyper-politicized activists would swarm over a controversy like this would pay off -- whether their beliefs are right, left, or center, they are not usually civil and reasonable. But in this case it looks like those who represent the group that Guillen insulted will be satisfied.
That said, I always cringe a little when someone is asked to undergo "sensitivity training". It has a Stalinist air that I find offensive. In this case, given that Guillen has recently apologized, it seems the punishment is training enough. Really, an apology is all anyone can expect after an insult like this. It's arrogant to claim the right to redirect someone's vlaues.