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Speaking Up Isn’t Always Comfortable, But It Is Necessary

“If someone uses an anti-Semitic slur, you don’t have to be Jewish to say it’s repulsive. If someone uses the N-word, you don’t have to be Black to tell them it’s despicable. It’s what needs to be done.”

Brian Noe

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Have you ever watched a movie with the commentary on? I find it fascinating. Actors and directors share stories that add depth to a film. The movie Training Day is one of my favorites. The director of that film, Antoine Fuqua, said something that always stuck with me. Fuqua described the concept of the movie while paraphrasing a quote from Albert Einstein. “The world is a dangerous place to live,” Fuqua referenced. “Not just because of the evil people in it, but because of the people who do nothing about it. That’s what the heart of the movie is all about, that you gotta do something about it.”

Training Day (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

Something had to be done about Matt Rowan, a high school basketball announcer in Oklahoma who was caught on an open mic using a racial slur. When a girls basketball team from Norman High School chose to kneel during the national anthem last Thursday, Rowan called them all the N-word. He also added, “F— them, I hope they lose.” The next day Rowan apologized (if you can call it that) while mentioning that he suffers from Type 1 Diabetes and was dealing with spiking sugar levels during the game.

First off, wow. Spiking sugar levels?

Move over “the dog ate my homework,” we have a new leader for all-time worst excuse. Anybody with sense knows that Rowan is a top-shelf jackass for his choice of words and has no business being on the airwaves. My question is what would you do in a similar situation if the mic wasn’t live and racist comments were made off the air? If you heard a broadcaster say something that the public didn’t hear, how would you handle it?

The short answer is that it’s essential to do something. The long answer is more detailed. I believe that it matters what is said exactly. Is this a Class A felony like the N-word, or is it more like a misdemeanor? If the comment is like an old school, five-yard facemask penalty in football for incidental contact, I’m at the very least telling that person, “Bro, you can’t say that.” If the person understands, is sorry, and corrects the mistake, that’s as far as I would take it.

Some might disagree with me. There are people who believe in alerting management immediately when an inappropriate comment is made. That isn’t how life works though. If a friend, family member, or stranger in public says something off-color, you can’t report them to HR. You have to confront them and make sure they understand that their comments are wrong. New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman did a masterful job of this last week. Edelman, who is Jewish, was responding to an anti-Semitic slur used by Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard while livestreaming a video game. Edelman penned an open letter to Leonard that was brilliantly worded.

“I get the sense that you didn’t use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance,” Edelman wrote. “Most likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That’s what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread. I’m down in Miami fairly often. Let’s do a Shabbat dinner with some friends. I’ll show you a fun time.”

Edelman’s approach is much more likely to lead to growth. He didn’t condemn or cancel Leonard for his repulsive word choice; instead Edelman coached him up and offered support. The funny thing about cancel culture is that although a person may no longer exist in your world, that person still exists in the world. They don’t turn into fairy dust the second they are canceled. It makes more sense to offer insight and assistance to inspire change. Shunning a person for the rest of time is unlikely to do the trick.

Look, not every situation is the same. Obviously not every person is the same. Some people are lost causes while others who falter are capable of changing their ways. I’m just saying don’t confuse the two. It doesn’t make sense to cancel someone that can see the error of their ways and make improvements. By the same token, it doesn’t make sense to be lenient with someone who is a lost cause. Just understand the difference.

Something else that keeps swirling in my head is that I can’t imagine it was the very first time Leonard and Rowan used slurs. I highly doubt it was Leonard’s maiden voyage using an anti-Semitic slur while Rowan was an N-word virgin until last week rolled around. Anybody that heard Leonard and Rowan use those words in the past, and said nothing about it, is partially responsible for the awful behavior continuing. Whether it was a friend, family member, fellow video gamer, or whoever, allowing slurs to be said without objecting to them makes you an accessory to the crime. You may not be holding the bloody knife, but you drove the getaway car.

O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco car chase was 25 years ago; helicopter cameraman  Jeff Mailes recalls chase, Nicole Brown Simpson murder case - CBS News

If we’re being honest here, the easy way out can be tempting. It doesn’t take much to imagine many scenarios where saying nothing could be appealing. Maybe you just landed your first gig in sports radio. You run the board during games when a local broadcaster says something crazy off the air. You have dreams of making it big one day. Maybe you start to think, “What should I do? Could saying something jeopardize my career? I don’t want to make things awkward. And there aren’t any flattering sayings about snitches. I’ve never heard ‘snitches get promotions.’ Maybe I should just let it go.”

It might be possible to trick your mind into believing what you desire. But the truth is; that isn’t good enough. Allowing racism and discrimination to continue, when you know it’s wrong, is a horrendous mistake. That’s what keeps hatred alive. Plus, it matters most when speaking up is uncomfortable. It’s one thing to write BLM on your online bio — hey, that’s great — but the true test is when you have something to lose. Pointing out inappropriate words might strain friendships. A family member might be greatly angered if you call them out. A coworker might turn against you. So be it. If someone uses an anti-Semitic slur, you don’t have to be Jewish to say it’s repulsive. If someone uses the N-word, you don’t have to be Black to tell them it’s despicable. It’s what needs to be done.

Fuqua made another comment about one of the final scenes in Training Day that applies to this column. “This is an important moment here on the bus because this guy makes a decision to go after Alonzo,” Fuqua said. “Jake [played by Ethan Hawke] could go home to his baby and to his wife, but if he does that, and he doesn’t do anything about Alonzo [a dirty detective played by Denzel Washington], his little girl is gonna have to grow up in this world. She’s going to run into Alonzo and other people like him. So he has to get on the bus and he has to go down into the belly of the beast here. He’s got to face the dragon; he’s got to face Alonzo.”

Training Day: Could Ethan Hawke Reprise Jake Hoyt Role In TV Series? |  Irish Cinephile

There are Alonzo’s all around us. What are you going to do when you encounter one? Will you simply go home, or will you do something about it?

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

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