I’m not an in-your-face type of person, but the generation coming up now seems to revel in the fact that courtesy of the boom in technology they can spout their basest thoughts without repercussions.
Twitter. Facebook. And other social media platforms.
I once had an acquaintance respond to a statement I made regarding social media – Twitter in particular – in my Facebook newsfeed (yes, ironic) that Twitter allows people to show how brilliant they are in 140 characters or fewer.
But the opposite is true as well. Twitter allows you to show your stupidity, ignorance and, yes, your bigotry in the same space. Witness what happened Sunday night after NBC, making the proper call, pre-empted Sunday Night Football so that its news department could broadcast Pres. Barack Obama’s remarks at an interfaith memorial for the victims of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Some high minded individuals erupted with vitriol, screaming the n-word so it could be heard throughout the Twitterverse.
Make no mistake. NBC made the right call in temporarily moving the game between the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots to the NBC Sports Network and CNBC.
Shady Hook became the second deadliest mass shooting in the history of this country with 27 deaths. But what tragic difference made this one stand above all others. Twenty of the victims were children. Young children. Children around the age of my 8-year-old son.
A person would have to be inhuman to not let that affect them in some way. And Pres. Obama was visibly shaken by the events that unfolded. As a parent, I understand that. I also understand that as the leader of this country, he serves a de facto role of spokesman-in-chief for such tragedies. Generally speaking, he deserves to be heard.
His words are more important to those needing comfort than Tom Brady’s passing statistics on Sunday night and how the Patriots ended up trailing by so many points at halftime.
A lot of Twitter followers didn’t think so as reported by Deadspin. A sampling:
Take that nigger off the tv, we wanna watch football! @Hester52 @Ty_CoolerThanU Bradley Patterson @2A_HogOfTheYear
Obama you stupid sand nigger get off my tv. Your just making the families hurt and miss their kids more and I want to watch football - Jarred Faul @Jard212
really? can't even watch sunday night football cuz our nigger prez has to talk, really? Brandon Ortiz @Brandon_Ortiz13
Two of those three still have Twitter accounts – free speech, even unpopular speech, works both ways. Deadspin lists and entire string of such enlightened thinking and thankfully far more people blasted these mental midgets for their overt bigotry and for being generally stupid in a world where there is no such thing as privacy any longer.
But their bigotry points to another problem – the complete lack of perspective in life.
Sports has been elevated to such a lofty place in American culture that some choose to begrudge the president a few moments on television during a nationally televised game. The comments, dripping with hate and racism, are just another ugly facet of American culture being exposed. It will get worse if he decides to take on the gun lobby.
“We want our football and we want it now,” some of the ignoramuses bellowed. Never mind that it could be had on two different channels on cable systems.
Americans like to scream barbarians when media here report incidents of soccer hooliganism on our airwaves. Sorry, but there is little doubt that this falls in the same category. At least for me it does.
This lack of perspective is one reason I adhere to a steadfast rule in my private life – I don’t talk sports. Not with my sons. Not at the local watering hole I frequent and not with friends. I gave up fantasy football. There are more important things in life.
There are many great things about the job I get to do. Stupidity, ignorance and bigotry are not among them.