Thursday, August 1, 2013

All Riled Up

I am going to tread lightly with this post, because as a suburban white kid I'm sure there is an angle to this story that I don't understand.  However, I wanted to provide my own take on this Riley Cooper whirlwind of racism because it is a Philadelphia story.  I don't have a main argument with this post, but just a few free flowing thoughts.  Here they are:

1. There is no justifying what Riley Cooper said.  As he admitted, there is no way under any circumstance that dropping an N-bomb is excusable.  However, having seen several different videos of Riley Cooper from that concert, he was completely wasted.  He said in his press conference that he "had been drinking" but that is an understatement.  He was dressed like a total jackass and several videos of him have surfaced basically trying to fight anything that moved at that concert.  That doesn't happen without a great deal of alcohol.  That in no way excuses his actions, but might help us understand his state of mind that night, and why he can't remember all the details of the night (he said he was alone, but video shows a teammate standing next to him.)

2. Anyone arguing for a suspension has a point, but I disagree with them for a few reasons.  First and perhaps most obvious, wouldn't it be worse for Cooper to have to take the field each game?  Dumbass Marcus Vick is already laying a bounty on his head, and I guarantee you a lot of players on other teams didn't take too kindly to that video.  He will pay his penance in concussions and broken bones most likely, and that is worse than any suspension in my opinion.  Street justice.  You really want to punish him?  Put him on punt return.  Secondly, and this is much more of a philosophical point, the N-word is one of the biggest double standards that exist on this earth.  As far as I'm concerned, if a word is considered offensive NOBODY should be using it.  Obviously, Riley Cooper should never be allowed to say it as a white, but the fact that black players throw around a watered down version of the word and it is ok makes no sense to me.  You don't see other races or creeds throwing around slightly altered versions of racial slurs for their people, because it is stupid.  That is where I think a lot of these incidents stem from; total grey area.  How many times do you think Riley has heard that word (or a derivation of it) used in the locker room?  There needs to be a zero tolerance policy for the N-word, or any derivation of it.  Get rid of it altogether.  It's an offensive word no matter how you say it.  Otherwise, if you suspend Riley Cooper for using it, how do you not suspend a black guy for using it in the locker room?  If all those HR trainings have taught me anything, it is that intent is not important.  If you intend it to be offensive, or if you intend it to be a bonding word, it is all the same. 

3. A lot of people have been very quick to unleash on Riley Cooper.  To them I quote the good book: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."  It's kind of funny too because Riley Cooper looks like a girl.  Anyway, how many of us have said something stupid or ignorant or racist?  Probably everybody I would think.  What's the difference?  Yes, it probably wasn't in public, but we also don't have cameras on ourselves at all times.  Does this make Riley Cooper a worse person than us?  Probably not.  He just lives a more scrutinized life than we do.  He should know better, but we all should know better.  But to those ready to crucify the dude, imagine if your worst moment ever was caught on camera.  Does that define you?  Should we judge you solely for that moment alone?  Probably not.

4. The reaction by Riley's teammates to his apology seems to show that he is not a terrible guy after all.  Michael Vick is no model citizen, but he has also probably been subject to quite a bit of racial vitriol in his career.  He forgave Cooper, and knows what kind of person he truly is.  Riley fucked up, admitted it, apologized and was forgiven by many.   Suffice it to say, Riley Cooper is not a great guy, but he is probably not a monster either.  Just an unfortunate incident.  Suspension or not, I think he has learned quite a few lessons this week.  And that's all I have to say about that.