Defending Ozzie Guillen (sorta)

So Ozzie Guillen opens his mouth and something offensive comes out of. Suprising? No. People like Ozzie Guillen are rare in the sports world, as it’s easier to just throw-out cliched answers. Reporters dream of an intereviewee like Guillen, but the media also are the willing to eat their young, if it gives them a story.

Using the word fag in describing someone in a negative fashion is pretty common, especially on the East Coast. Just like retard, the word fag has been coopted to have a wider meaning than the original slur it embodied. This doesn’t mean it’s not hurtful and offensive to other many people’s ears, but there should be some context explored before complete condemnation is served.

As a standup comic, I’m in the frontlines of fighting extreme political correctness. Many comics use words like fag or retard for great effect and I support their right to do it. Having said that, I don’t use words like these, as they don’t feel right coming out of my mouth. I don’t like comedy that makes targets of people with mental and physical handicaps, as I feel these people didn’t have a choice in the matter. My favorite thing to do in my standup act is to expose the rich and famous as frauds, as I feel these are the kinds of people who need to be knocked down a notch.

It’s not like I don’t offend some audience members in my show, though, as I purposely use shock tactics to elicit a response. One part of my set I discuss how homophobia is ridiculous. In this part of the act, the main target are people who are close-minded about other’s lifestyle choices. At the same time, I have a couple of lines which poke fun at gays. I do this also in regards to race and gender, as I feel that if you are an adult, you should be able to take some ribbing.

Ozzie has used as his defense that being from Venezeula, he has a different thought process on using the word. While I do think there is some truth to this point, I think a better defense for him would be that he has spent most of his adult life (since the age of 16) living in baseball clubhouses. In this super-macho, extremely jocular atmosphere, a word like fag is at home as the snap of a towel. This doesn’t make it right, but I doubt many in the game were offended at all by his use of the word.

I don”t believe Ozzie Guillen is homophobic. He has mentioned that he has friends in the gay community and while he wasn’t the most articulate in expressing his support for them, I do believe it was sincere. Ozzie has played with gay teammates during his time in baseball and I’m guessing that these players would support him as being a good guy. Of course, the world of team sports seems to still be years away from a player coming out of the closet. From my point of view, this is a more important issue than if a manager calls a pompous sportswriter an offensive name.

Let me repeat, Ozzie Guillen shouldn’t use the word fag. He’s in an influential position, as manager of the defending world champs, so his words do have some power. Let’s keep in mind, though, that a person’s actions should be considered before they are thrown to the wolves. I mean, if Ozzie Guillen was a complete homophobe, do you think he would shave his mustache the way he does? (Come on people, lighten up.)

15 thoughts on “Defending Ozzie Guillen (sorta)

  1. 1.  Scott – Great piece, I definitely agree with everything you’ve said. We are a society that is so reactionary that we don’t ever take time out to think about why someone would use a poor choice of words to express themselves or why they might do something that might be shocking. For some people that is simply the way they are. I am not a fan of the White Sox or Ozzie; I just have a lot of respect for people’s ability to express their raw emotions. I hate that in society we always say we want people to be honest and be frank, and then the minute that they are honest we jump down their throat. I don’t think Ozzie needs sensitivity training, I just think people need to understand that this man is not a Harvard Rhode Scholar or someone who has a good understanding of what is offensive. His perspective is different than a lot of college educated professionals, unfortunately he is in a job that puts him in the limelight and he feels that he doesn’t have to curb has language because he has no frame of reference to distinguish between what is correct speech in front of the media and what is correct for a locker room full of male baseball players. I approve Ozzie usage of the word ‘fag’ or any other word he’d like to use.

  2. 2.  Scott – Great piece, I definitely agree with everything you’ve said. We are a society that is so reactionary that we don’t ever take time out to think about why someone would use a poor choice of words to express themselves or why they might do something that might be shocking. For some people that is simply the way they are. I am not a fan of the White Sox or Ozzie; I just have a lot of respect for people’s ability to express their raw emotions. I hate that in society we always say we want people to be honest and be frank, and then the minute that they are honest we jump down their throat. I don’t think Ozzie needs sensitivity training, I just think people need to understand that this man is not a Harvard Rhode Scholar or someone who has a good understanding of what is offensive. His perspective is different than a lot of college educated professionals, unfortunately he is in a job that puts him in the limelight and he feels that he doesn’t have to curb has language because he has no frame of reference to distinguish between what is correct speech in front of the media and what is correct for a locker room full of male baseball players. I approve Ozzie usage of the word ‘fag’ or any other word he’d like to use.

  3. 3.  “I don’t believe Ozzie Guillen is homophobic. He has mentioned that he has friends in the gay community and while he wasn’t the most articulate in expressing his support for them, I do believe it was sincere. Ozzie has played with gay teammates during his time in baseball and I’m guessing that these players would support him as being a good guy”

    Scott – I have to say that although I believe in lightening up and all that, it’s this portion of what you wrote that I just don’t buy. For what reason would you actually believe that some of his best friends are black? Er, I mean gay?

    What would make you guess that ANYONE who has played with Ozzie would have admitted to him that they were gay, and that in addition to that they would think he was a good guy? I appreciate the argument, but it seems to be based on – well, nothing.

    Using the word “fag” in a derogatory manner doesn’t make him a homophobe. It makes him common, like a lot of people both you and I know. And you’re right, no one in the game was offended by his use of the word. That’s just the way a lot of people are in regards to homosexuality – default behavior.

    But if you want your kids or anyone else you think is turning into a good person thinking it’s all right to call their peers fag, queer or anything else to make them feel small that’s what happening here. That is what is inspired by this behavior.

    The response to all this is moronic, of course – and I can see that is what has inspired this post, which I understand. And I’ll gladly attack the response as such. People mistake behaving respectfully as “politcal correctness” and everyone starts yammering. I’m with you that the response is dumb, perhaps if not for the same reason.

    However the defense you are trying to get at just isn’t there. He knew what he was saying and he meant it. And right now, some fan of Ozzie’s is calling some effeminate boy the same thing somewhere in Chicago. Should they be defended, sorta?

  4. 4.  3 I’ve heard kids say much worse and a whole lot of them think it’s A-OK to use some of the words they learn from their peers. I don’t like using the kids as a reason anyone shouldn’t do something. I wish for once people would give kids credit for knowing a lot more than we give them credit for.

  5. 5.  Is Mariotti gay? If so, I think it’s much more offensive. If he’s loosely using the term, it’s one thing. But if he is trying to directly harm a person specifically, there’s no excuse. I think Guillen is the opposite of macho and “brave”. He hides behind ignorance and his nationality. Notice Marrito was not there when he lambasted him. I don’t think he would have the guts to do it personally. Just like his rave against Phil Garner – he thinks he can chip shot a guy and not get called for it. Garner was man enough to confront him personally.

    I disagree that Ozzie doesn’t care what people think of him. I think he “totally” cares. He loves the media attention and being able to be so “outrageous”. But if he is called on the carpet about it, he cries like a baby.

  6. 6.  I;m not neccessarily disturbed by Ozzie’s remarks, but I do have one question:

    Why did Ozzie get no suspension for his remarks and John Rocker get 30 Games??

  7. 7.  Let me begin by saying that I think the discussion on this topic here has been excellent. While some of the posts don’t agree with me, I think most everything here is well-thought out. Thanks for participating.

    Here are a few things I want to discuss. I’m not going to out anyone here, but Ozzie has played with gay players, from what I’ve been told. In regards to him meaning specifically the anti-gay slur, I’m not sure he did. As Teddy Greenstein wrote on the subject in the Chicago Tribune, Ozzie sometimes has his son’s explain certain English words to him. For example, when a Pittsburgh columnist wrote that Ozzie was a creep, he thought he was calling him a gang member (Crips), until his son’s explained it to him. Dimelo was right on in regards to this subject.

    I have no idea if Jay is gay or not. If there is talk that he is, this is whole different thing and Guillen should be suspended a lot longer.

    John Rocker made some racial comments besiedes the homophobic comments. Let’s be honest that if you are a minority, you are given more leeway when it comes to what a person says. Charles Barkley is only allowed to say some of the things he says because of his racial makeup. Rocker shouldn’t have been suspended as long as he was, but there was a feeding frenzy.

    I don’t like that Ozzie used the word he did, but I do think when he said that he needs English training more than Sensitivity training has some merit. Plus, it was really funny.

  8. 8.  See, he should have simply called Mariotti an annoying tool with the sportswriting talent of a sack of cedar chips. At least then only the cedar ships would be upset. They demand to be given credit for smelling nice!

    Where was I, now?

    Oh, yes –

    Scott, I did want to mention something else you put in your article. “Poking fun” at gays is WAY different that expressing hatred and derision for someone as Ozzie did for Mariotti and then exclamating it with a word and practically spitting, wouldn’t you say? Ozzie was just poking fun like you do? He didn’t seem particularly smiley or good-natured about it to me. In fact, he seemed a little threatening, which is not really poking fun.

    Finally, Ozzie has been in this country playing ball for a LONG TIME. He’s been around locker rooms for most of his adult life, as you said. And he has NO IDEA what “fag” meant? None? No way. I call BS, seriously. Please. I taught ESL – people who’ve been in this country for 6 weeks knew what “fag” meant.

    Dimelo, I’m really not even sure what point you are trying to make as far as trusting kids and giving them credit.

  9. 9.  Once upon a time, I used to work with a guy who insisted that the word “nigger” applied equally to whites as to blacks where he grew up. This was not my experience, which made his story sound like a complete fabrication enjoined in a bit of pre-emptive self-defense. While what you say about the word’s usage may be true, it’s still utterly offensive, and Guillen should have known it.

    On the other hand, Mariotti is an even bigger media-whoring ass. Aaron Gleeman is exactly right on this one:

    http://tinyurl.com/jqssc

  10. 10.  I don’t have any problems with Ozzie Guillen saying whatever’s on his mind. He’s an adult guy and he has to hold himself accountable for all of his actions.

    I also believe that he could make a better job in understanding that when you are a Major League manager, you represent a whole organization and you have to behave professionally, at least in public.

    What really upsets me about this is that Ozzie is hiding behind his Venezuelan background in order to find a pathetic excuse for his behavior.

    I am Venezuelan, and I’m working in baseball. And I find it appalling that this guy, who has opened a lot of doors for all Hispanic baseball people, is blaming the fact he’s from our country for his remarks. Is he playing on stereotypes to the point he’s actually hurting the chances of any of us to get to the highest ranks in professional sports in the US? As someone who has worked very hard for a number of years with an MLB organization, I am afraid that he is.

    It’s true that Venezuela and the US represent two totally different cultures, and that Venezuelans have a very hard time trying to adjust to the ways things are done in America. But it’s also true Guillen has been in the US for over 20 years and his kids study here; he’s also adopted the American nationality, in case you didn’t know.

    With his lame excuses, he’s making all Venezuelans look as if we have some of the guilt behind Guillen’s actions. And the only person who is guilty of that is Guillen himself.

    He embarrassed me to the point that as a Venezuelan, I feel I should make an apology on behalf of our nation. Thing is, that’s exactly the kind of weaseling out Guillen’s trying to make.

    What a shame.

  11. 11.  10 – since the whole notion of collective guilt is ridiculous on its face, I don’t think anyone for a minute believes that all or even any Venezuelans need to apologize for his behavior. Guillen is and was one of the league’s more annoying jerks to begin with; the fact that it got found out (again) in this manner is maybe not surprising, but he’s also been happy to bag on Josh Paul in public for two things that were clearly not his fault, i.e.,

    1) Doug Eddings has no business umpiring games in the major leagues, let alone in a postseason series, and
    2) Eddings’ failure to correctly call the status of the last pitch in Pierzynski’s at bat led to total confusion by every single defender on the field.

    The irony, of course, was that Josh Paul was a White Sox fan. I wonder how he feels about his chosen team now.

  12. 12.  Here’s a question, if Ozzy called Mariotti a fag, and, as we learned last year, he greets his friends as “child molesters and homosexuals”, does that mean Ozzy thinks of Mariotti as his friend?

    On another note, I simply think Ozzy should act like a champion. This crap is seriously taking away from the team.

  13. 14.  Don’t let Ozzie fool you. He knew what he was saying. Success has just made Ozzie feel more entitled to go beyond the bounds of what is proper; he has always had a big mouth and now it’s bigger. I wager it will ultimately get him fired from his position.

  14. 15.  Don’t let Ozzie fool you. He knew what he was saying. Success has just made Ozzie feel more entitled to go beyond the bounds of what is proper; he has always had a big mouth and now it’s bigger. I wager it will ultimately get him fired from his position.

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