Desperate Houseflies: The Magazine

Feel free to pull out your trusty fly swatter and comment on what is posted here, realizing that this odd collection of writers may prove as difficult to kill as houseflies and are presumably just as pesky. “Desperate Houseflies” is a magazine that intends to publish weekly articles on subjects such as politics, literature, history, sports, photography, religion, and no telling what else. We’ll see what happens.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bacon and Eggs With Cornbread

Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell found himself in trouble this past week. Maxwell is a radio announcer for the Boston Celtics; a team he helped win two NBA championships over the course of his eleven-year career. (Side note for basketball fans: Did you know the Celtics retired his jersey? Since when do players who average twelve points / six boards a game get their jerseys retired?) Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell is a goofy announcer. He literally quacks on the air for some reason, along with other sundry peculiarities.

Violet Palmer is an NBA referee. She, in fact, is the first female referee in NBA history, Further, she is the first female official in the world of United States professional sports, having broken the gender barrier in October, 1997.

Then there was Monday.

In response to a Palmer call during the game between the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets Monday night, Maxwell said on-air that Palmer should “go back to the kitchen,” followed by, “Go in there and make me some bacon and eggs, would you?”

Maxwell’s comments didn’t go over very well on, oh, say a million fronts.

In response to the firestorm of controversy he unleashed with his comments, he offered a public apology Wednesday, saying, “If I said anything that might have been insensitive or sexist in any way, then I apologize because she worked extremely hard to get where she is now, end of quote.”

This apology wasn’t received too well either by the folks I listened to on ESPN Radio, pinpointing the “if” in the apology. I listened to the callers offer their opinions. One mentioned that if this would have been a “race” comment then Maxwell would have lost his job, but since it was gender-related he was treated differently. Another wondered that if it would have been different had it been a homosexual rather than a feminist issue.

All this led me to do some thinking. How do we define these issues anyway? If Maxwell would have made fun of Dick Bavetta as being a “slow white boy who couldn’t outrun Charles Barkley” then it wouldn’t have made headlines. Or if he would have made a classic “black on black” remark, it wouldn’t have garnered attention either.

So where is the standard?

I came to a few conclusions. Feel free to roundly criticize them all.

* First, there’s the personal end of these things. I don’t know if Violet Palmer was offended or not, but either way she deserves a personal apology from Maxwell. Personal insults deserve personal apologies.

* Second, insulting a general class of people deserves an apology, too. I think that was what Maxwell was trying to do with his “if” apology (given the benefit of the doubt).

* But third, and most important for discussion I believe, insults should be considered on a level considering the effect it might have on oppression. I don’t think the hypothetical insult of calling Dick Bavetta a “slow white guy” will do much to keep Caucasian athletes from getting a track scholarship. I’m still fairly convinced that white American men (being one, myself) don’t have a lot to worry about in the world of oppression when it comes to those three specific characteristics (white…American…men…).

Because Maxwell’s comment presents itself as one that if perpetuated could hinder the future of gender equality in professional sports, then he deserved the firestorm he received. And in my humble opinion, future stupid remarks in this genre should be judged by a similar standard.


Blogger juvenal_urbino said...


11:48 AM  
Blogger Terry Austin said...

I think this serves as a reminder that it's never a bad idea to despise Boston Celtics, be they past, present or future Celtics.

6:47 AM  

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