SOME PEOPLE SAY

Posted in Rants on July 10th, 2012 by Ed

Don't skip this because you think it's about baseball. It is, but only for a moment. Then it gets interesting.

When I peruse the internet I bookmark pages that I intend to write about, and over the weekend I grabbed an ESPN story about a baseball player who went on a misogynist rant in an effort to belittle one of his opponents. Briefly, Boston Red Sox pitcher Vicente Padilla has been accused by a Yankee, Mark Teixeira, of intentionally hitting opponents with his pitches. Padilla responded as follows (condensed; emphasis mine):

"In this sport, as competitive ball players, we get pretty fired up," Padilla said, according to NESN.com. "So I think, maybe, (Teixeira) picked the wrong profession. I think he'd be better off playing a women's sport."

Padilla then implied that Teixeira had issues with Padilla and former teammate Frank Francisco because they were Latin. (snipped)

In his interview with Deportes, Padilla didn't back off his comments.

"We are all men here playing baseball," Padilla said. "We don't need no women playing baseball."

Padilla added, "He is always crying and complaining. If he has a base hit, he cries, if he doesn't, he cries. I just meant that not even women complain as much as him."

The reason I bookmarked this on Sunday had disappeared by the time I sat down to write about it on Monday evening. The third-to-last paragraph originally read, "In his interview with Deportes, Padilla didn’t back off his comments, which are demeaning to women athletes."

To prove that I am not imagining things, here are two screencaps of the original text, which no longer appears on the ESPN story. The first screencap is from Google, and the second is from a New York sports website that quoted the original ESPN text (click to embiggen):

This was worth writing about, in my opinion, because we are so used to the media playing its game of pretending that all arguments are equally valid that I was shocked to see a phrase as straightforward as, "which are demeaning to women athletes." I found it sad that a goddamn sports website could state that directly, whereas if this story was about politics we'd have CNN and the like telling us that "some people have claimed" that the comments were offensive or perhaps an attribution to an interest group ("according to Mary Smith of the National Organization of Women…") so that readers could more easily discount it. The news is so strongly geared toward not offending its target demographic – old people, white people, males, and old white males – that a reporter flat-out telling the reader the obvious truth ("Hey, this guy said some really sexist shit!") is unusual to us. For obvious reasons, that's pretty sad.

But then ESPN's story changed. Apparently someone got offended, or the editors panicked that the (overwhelmingly male) ESPN audience might get offended, at the relatively straightforward description of Padilla's comments. I mean, you don't have to be a Jezebel editor to see this as offensive. His argument is not complex: Teixeira is not tough. He whines, cries, and is a great big pussy. You know, like a woman!

American media outlets are so hypersensitive to accusations of "bias" that editorial policy now dictates, apparently, that even the most obvious judgment calls are too risky. Yes, the reader can detect the demeaning nature of Padilla's comments without being instructed to do so by the writer. My problem here is the motive and thought process behind editing the original text. Why did the editors feel it inappropriate to characterize sexist comments as sexist? Exactly whom did the editors fear offending by pointing out that calling a male athlete a woman to imply that he is a wimp is demeaning to women?

Both questions unfortunately have very obvious answers.

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