May 19, 2017

Red Sox's Ban Of Racist Fan Was Excesssive

Two weeks after the Red Sox announced that a fan who allegedly used a racial slur when talking to another fan had been banned from Fenway Park for life - that incident coming just one day after Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones said he had been the target of racial slurs during a game - the team announced that ushers, security personnel, and others working with the public at Fenway would be wearing buttons reading "Respectful" and "Kind". (The Globe's Peter Abraham tweeted a picture of the buttons last Saturday.)


Red Sox president Sam Kennedy talked to WEEI about the team's zero tolerance policy regarding hateful language at Fenway Park:
It's the club's right. We plan on doing it. We have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure people who come to Fenway Park, regardless of your religion, your race, your sexual orientation, you feel comfortable at Fenway. That is our job. We need to be held accountable for that. That's something that's really important to John Henry, Tom Werner and to me and to the members of our front office. We want our fans to let us know if they feel uncomfortable. Nobody should feel intimidated by coming to a baseball game at Fenway Park. This is a place to come and relax and enjoy and feel comfortable.
While the Red Sox have the right to refuse entrance to Fenway Park to people who they feel cannot (or will not) abide by the rules they have in place, the lifetime ban was inappropriate, a punishment wildly out of proportion to the crime of which the unnamed fan was accused. Although at least one of the man's credit cards was flagged, his name and picture will not be posted at entry gates, making enforcement of what will probably be a decades-long ban next-to-impossible to enforce.

Having Fenway employees wear buttons with the team's logo and the words "Respectful" and "Kind" seems very silly to me. Is an angry fan really going to keep his mouth shut because he may have seen a "Kind" button on the lapel of the person checking his ticket two hours earlier? It's already fairly taboo to spew racial slurs in public, and now there is the precedent (or possibility) of receiving a lifetime ban if you do so within Fenway Park. I question whether a button will be a deterrent.

In reading the news stories of this incident and its aftermath, I found it interesting that what was said to Calvin Hennick was never mentioned (although Hennick himself posted about it on Facebook). Those posts are no longer available, but the information is in one of the comments under the Globe's story (which you should avoid; not only these comments, but comments posted below ANY online news story, anywhere). The racist fan told Hennick that the pre-game singer had "niggered up" the national anthem.

Hennick: "I thought that surely I'd misheard him. This was the day after Fenway fans had made national headlines for racism, and the man could plainly see me sitting with my black father-in-law and half-black son."

From the Globe:
Hennick asked if he had correctly understood the man and then repeated what he thought the man had just said.

"Yes, that's what I said, and I stand by it," the other fan told Hennick.

That's not OK, Hennick said to the man. You can't say that, he told the man.

"Why not?" the man replied.

At that point, Hennick stood up and found an usher, who immediately summoned Red Sox security. They ushered Hennick's family out of the grandstand and offered them better seats. Then, they asked Hennick to join them in the concourse to identify the man and repeat what was said.

"I was totally happy to do that because if he was going to deny it, I wanted him to deny it to my face like the coward he was," Hennick said.
And, sure enough, the man denied using the slur. The Red Sox opted to ban him for life.

Going back to the slurs yelled at Adam Jones, I doubt you will be surprised to learn that former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling described Jones's account as "bullshit", accusing the Orioles outfielder of lying:
I don't believe the story, given the world we live in. I don't believe it, for this reason: Everybody is starving and hungry to sit in front of a camera and talk and be social justice warriors. And if a fan yelled loud enough in center field for Adam Jones to hear the N-word, I guarantee you we would've heard and seen fans around on CNN, on MSNBC, they would've found multiple fans to talk about what a racist piece of junk Boston is ... I spent most of my adult life in baseball parks. I heard the N-word out of my black teammates' mouths about 100 million times. For somebody to talk loud enough for Adam Jones to hear the N-word in center field, other people would have heard it. If somebody did say it, we're going to see it and hear about it, and I would apologize to Adam Jones for doubting him, but until then, I think this is bullshit. I think this is somebody creating a situation.
(Schilling doesn't believe racial slurs were used "given the world we live in". ... Wow. I don't know what planet Schilling's mind is currently on, but it's a long ways away from Earth.)

Here's an eyewitness report that Schilling can dismiss for one reason or another: Niko Poulakidas, a high school senior, was in the center field bleachers, maybe 15-20 rows behind the guy who was ejected:
Early on, people were laughing that he was throwing peanuts at Jones. But towards the end, I realized most people were just giving dirty looks. The N-word was the turning point for sure. Once that was said, everything turned serious. ... The guy seemed drunk and angry, which is probably why no one said anything to him at first. No one wants to start a fight. There probably wasn't a way to reason with a meathead of his magnitude. Some fans finally started yelling 'shut up' ...
After Jones told the press what had happened, several other players told similar stories, including CC Sabathia and Jason Heyward. In the past, David Price and Carl Crawford have talked about the slurs they heard at Fenway. Last year, Jones reported hearing racial slurs in Toronto. ... Red Sox management has said that Red Sox players have acknowledged hearing racial slurs at Fenway.

Still, Schilling continues to bury his head in the sand or, as Deadspin put it: "Curt Schilling Says No One Denies Racism Exists, Denies Racism Exists". Schilling recently took time out from admiring his large collection of Nazi memorabilia to send a text to WEEI, in which he insisted that Adam Jones is a liar with "an agenda" who created a "fake hate crime":
If he wants to maintain the lie he made here, that's fine. No one denies racism exists, but when people like him lie about an incident and others just take him at his word, it perpetuates a mythical level of racism. And for some reason, it appears blacks believe only blacks can talk about racism and only whites can be racists. I promise you if some scumbag yelled the N-word at Adam Jones in Fenway, it would have been on Twitter, Facebook and every other social media site asap, like every other "incident." Not to mention the liberal Boston media would have broken its neck to identify the racist. But just taking him at his word means there are a bunch of white cowards and racists living here, because no one stood up to the guy. Adam has an agenda and one needs to only look at his past commentary on race and racism to see it. But see, when you question fake hate crimes in this day and age it somehow makes you a racist. If you use this use every word or none at all.
Jones took the high road:
Schilling is over there with his rants. He just wants an outlet. Somebody will take his call, take his rants. He can keep them for himself. Because he's never experienced anything like I have. I'll stick with what [Mark] McLemore said about it: Schilling, hell of a career. But he's never been black, and he's never played the outfield in Boston.
That quote is from a long conversation Jones had with Yahoo's Jeff Passan last weekend.
Yahoo: How many times have you been called a racial slur in Boston?

Jones: To me, a few. To others? Now, you can't just single out Boston. That would be a cop-out. You go around the whole nation, and you hear fans get nasty. I don't know if it has something to do how with how their day went. I understand people's frustrations after they have a tough day. Could've had a tough day at work. Could've been fired. Wife could've chewed 'em out. Kids could've gotten sick. ... When I'm in center field, I hear the good, the bad, the ugly from the fans. I hear it. I hear the chatter of the fans. But that catches you off-guard. I've heard it all. "Go eff yourself." "I'm effing your mom this weekend." When people start to use strong profanity and hate words, you sit there and think, "What is really the issue?" The issue isn't me. The issue is not me being in center field. There's a bigger issue. ...

5 comments:

allan said...

Two fans talk about hearing Jones being the object of racial slurs in 2013. ... More evidence idiots like Schilling can say doesn't exist.

allan said...

This post is a bit haphazard, but I wanted to post it before the topic got too old. I realize that very little of the post concerns the title, but there is not much else to say besides my opinion about the severity of the ban. The other stuff is other stuff.

laura k said...

It's actually a very good post.

Having Fenway employees wear buttons with the team's logo and the words "Respectful" and "Kind" seems very silly to me. Is an angry fan really going to keep his mouth shut because he may have seen a "Kind" button on the lapel of the person checking his ticket two hours earlier? It's already fairly taboo to spew racial slurs in public, and now there is the precedent (or possibility) of receiving a lifetime ban if you do so within Fenway Park. I question whether a button will be a deterrent.

I don't think the buttons are meant to be a deterrent, and I don't think they're silly. They're a statement from the FO. Others may take it to heart and follow suit. You know how the mob thing goes? It goes in the opposite direction, too. One person does the right thing and others follow. In any case, the buttons certainly don't hurt.

I agree that the lifetime ban is excessive. But in my view better too much reaction than none.

laura k said...

Everybody is starving and hungry to sit in front of a camera and talk

Curt, projection much?

laura k said...

Several co-workers asked me about this. Pillar did well to apologize and agree with the local media on this one.