Calling Foul on Athlete’s Gay Slur

By now you might have heard about Chicgo Bulls center Joakim Noah who was caught on video tape dropping both the F-Bomb and an anti-gay slur after getting a second foul. He will probably end up paying a fine similar to the $1000 fine paid by Kobe Bryant for use of the same anti-gay slur.


This is sad and frustrating considering the recent pro-gay sentiments aired by many in the sports world, at least recently. However, what Noah’s words do is remind us that though we have made progress towards acceptance, we still have far to go. What I, personally, found very telling was how Noah explained himself:

“It’s very disappointing. I apologize if I offended anyone, I was just caught in the moment. A fan said something that was disrespectful toward me, and I responded. I have to take the consequences like a man. It was just a bad decision on my part.’’

First off Mr. Noah, “if” you offended anyone?


Don’t you think it is rather obvious that you offended someone? Was’t that the point? You used offensive language. How did you think that might not offend anyone? This fan disrespected you… and you lashed out in anger by cursing and calling them a name. Your intent was to offend, to punish, to put this fan in his place. So you called him a faggot.

Secondly, his “being caught in the moment” is indicative of a larger more pronounced problem. It seems like he is saying his anger and his word choice was almost instinctual. Let me pause here and say that we all say things instinctually that we don’t mean. I say “Oh my God!” all th

e time but as a happy Skeptical Agnostic sort of person, I fully admit that I am not praying to, asking guidance of, or calling on an actual deity… I am just using a phrase, a phrase that has become pretty commonplace for believers and nonbelievers alike. Yes, I know some believers take offense of my use of this phrase, and yet I still find myself saying it. I use it because it is culturally accepted.

Was that the case for Noah? I don’t know. Part of me wants to say no, he chose that word because he knew that it had power, big mighty mean power. But I do know that the word “faggot” like the phrase “oh my God” are in many ways still generally socially accepted.

At least they have been.

Obviously we are working on changing that. We are pointing out how words can and do hurt. We are punishing those who use them.

Yes, Mr. Noah appears willing to take his punishment “like a man”* and I am glad that he acknowledges that it was a “bad decision.” (Not a mistake, a bad decision… again that seems to mean that he picked that word intentionally for the amount of power and insult it could deliver.)

Yes, instances like this can be used as teaching moments where we as a community can come together and cry foul.

Yes we have come a long way… the fact that he will be getting punished and the loud public disaproval is testament to that.

And, yes…. Yes we still have far to go.

Story Source: Here

Update The fine will be $50,000. Not sure if the quick apology is what makes it less than Kobe’s. I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion regarding that down the road. 

*I hate this phrase but let’s save that particular rant for another day shall we?


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