by Ryan Meehan
I’m standing about forty-five feet from Younkers, a local retail department store that sells everything from hair care products to mattresses. Usually their stuff is drastically overpriced, or at least most of the products are. About a month and a half ago, Paula Deen underwent severe public scrutiny for her use of the N-word to describe African Americans. Her cookware is now half off at Younkers – It’s still really good quality and nobody is buying it.
This week, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper became the new Paula Deen. A video leaked Wednesday of Cooper referring to a bouncer at the backstage area of a Kenny Chesney concert as an “N-word”. The video quickly went viral, and just like that America had someone else to hate. in that collective moment, they once again vaporized the thought that they themselves could be the source of something so “hateful”.
Race is always a touchy subject because anybody who immediately doesn’t throw the condemned to the wolves is considered to be a bigot. It’s a very confusing ethos of thinking, because it allows for almost nobody to have a real opinion on things that are very situation specific. It backs everyone who is willing to analyze the issue into a corner, and almost never results in the person giving their true opinion. Unless of course you’re Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but I’m getting to the point where I don’t even think they believe the bullshit that comes out of their mouths anymore.
Two short points I would like to make:
1. There is way too much illegally captured video footage that is leaked onto the internet in nowadays; and…
2. Sensitivity training is bullshit.
Point One: Since the first one is much less of a psychological discussion, let’s start there…As previously stated, this incident was captured on a cell phone video camera. The cell phone video camera is probably the most overused piece of technology available to the common man.
In most states, it’s illegal to videotape people (with audio) unless you have their permission. California is much different because there are so many people that make their living off of taking pictures and video of celebrities, that if they had to change the law it would ruin the whole system of how business is done out there. (For example, if TMZ was shut down due to such a change in legislation Harvey Levin would probably sue the state and he’d likely win even though he’d never be able to collect the money to pay them since they are so broke…but I digress…)
But, in areas that it isn’t illegal to do so…it’s what we commonly refer to in the industry as a “dick move”. Although not a technical term, it’s a perfect way to describe something that should just be common decency. And I practice what I preach, because you can ask anybody who know me and they will tell you that the second a phone goes up pointed in my direction and I see a red light flashing – shit gets real. I don’t fuck around at that moment, and your cell phone goes from being a personal possession to a violation of my personal rights and something that is going to need to be swept off the floor if you don’t put it back in your pocket.
Why do we feel the need to film so much shit? Are we really so relieved when something like this does turn up after several hours of footage we can’t use? Does that make it seem worthwhile? If so, that’s really sad… It’s a shame that nobody can enjoy life, as it is also a shame that we have resorted to now simply capturing events as opposed to enjoying them when they occur in real time.
The cell phone camera is a perfect example of how we believe that we own whatever exists in front of us. We don’t. Just because you happen to be somewhere and somebody says something stupid, giving them the benefit of the doubt always comes in second. Nobody for one fraction of a moment thinks that they could ever have such a thought, and the other party is immediately guilty.
Point Two: This one gets a bit more complicated, but I can clean that up so there is no confusion – Sensitivity training never works. EVER.
Now, reverse sensitivity training can work – Insensitivity training if you will. The Armed Forces are a perfect example of this. But the reverse – telling someone who will step on a box full of baby raccoons to get to his Godsmack CDs that we’re going to discuss his feelings at great lengths – isn’t going to happen. Now does Riley Cooper always have that attitude towards minorities? I don’t know … But I do know that this sensitivity training isn’t going to whip his ass into shape nearly as much as having to suffer through the remainder of training camp with his African American teammates. And that’s because sensitivity training is a fucking joke.
In Adam Carolla’s first book there is a section regarding the sensitivity training that a bunch of radio employees had to go through in the wake of the Don Imus “controversy”. He explained how the instructor of the seminar gave an example of features of a criminal who had committed the crime, and how the radio hosts should report the features of those wanted for a crime. The woman teaching the class gave an example where one of the characteristics of the hypothetical criminal was that he was of Hispanic descent, but said that you can’t say that he’s Hispanic because that’s insensitive. So to make a long story short, the people arranging and speaking at these sensitivity trainings should be in straight jackets.
But in a way…that’s what sensitivity training does – it distracts those from the real problems at hand (in this case, the crime being committed or Riley Cooper just being a douchebag) and puts semantics first. The real issue here is not whether or not Cooper is insensitive, it’s whether or not he is a shithead. And I think that most of us have already formed an opinion on that since this is the only thing we know of the guy.
The incident itself:
So he says an offensive slur, it leaks onto the internet, and he has to face his teammates and apologize. Then Friday he’s sent to sensitivity training. The key portion there is what we mentioned in point two, that the training and/or counseling he’s being sent to is going to do very little to nothing when it comes to how he feels about people that are different from him. And returning to point one, keep in mind none of this would even be an issue if he hadn’t been caught on a cell phone camera. If this was heresay, he would have immediately denied it and it wouldn’t be news.
This is what I want to know – Why can’t we know how much money he was fined? Why is that information being hidden? I would think if the team wanted any sort of distraction from the story itself, they would say how much the fine was so at least the media would have a figure to headline the story with. A big part of how sports news is reported is whether or not we can quantify something – be it money fined, games suspended, or hookers found dead. This would have been an excellent diversion technique and it shocks me the Eagles organization wasn’t smart enough to figure that out. (Although, it is the Eagles…)
As far as the rest of the NFL, Roger Goddell may have actually made a decent decision for once by deciding to not suspend Cooper. While several blowhards and politicians/pastors are calling for the Eagles to cut him and not stop until his family is homeless, we might actually see the panic cool off of this matter before the football season starts. Goddell shouldn’t even have an opinion on something this miniscule, because unless you just had a stroke everybody assumed exactly what he feels he has to say.
The Real Victim
You know who I feel really sorry for here? Kenny Chesney. Now everybody in America thinks that every Kenny Chesney concert is a hotbed for rednecism. And although that’s probably true, it’s sort of something that is just assumed goes on in country venues all across this confused nation of ours and is usually unspoken. This guy had nothing to do with the incident itself and now his summer concernt season (where he makes his most money) has been stained by this whole Riley Cooper thing. If he didn’t make such awful music, I might actually feel sorry for the guy.
Racism is a hot button issue because when it comes to discussing the root of all of the problems, we continue to fail miserably. I wrote a piece about this on EEP a week ago where I pointed out how easily the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case disappeared the second that another picture of Anthony Weiner’s dick resurfaced. Same thing here: Now we’re talking about a guy who uttered a racial slur when he was likely hammered out of his mind, instead of tackling the issues which affect the games themselves, like why the Eagles can’t block anybody to save their lives and how they are going to recover from a season in which they had an eight game losing streak in the shortest season in all of professional sports with a new coach.
In two years no one will have any idea who Riley Cooper is. This is a garbage story. Dubs pretty much covered everything else so if you haven’t read it yet, this is my one time I get to tell you how to live your life – Go read that article.