Baseball Player Offers Weak Apology For $100,000 Anti-Gay Slur
During his team's Major League Baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar wrote the Spanish phrase "Tu ere maricon" (translated: "You are a faggot") on the black paint smeared under his eyes.
It's unclear who he meant to call a faggot: the Boston Red Sox basemen? His fellow team mates? Fans looking at the jumbo-tron? Doesn't really matter seeing as the Blue Jays lost 3 to 2.
After news of Escobar's slur hit the innerwebs, The Toronto Blue Jays released the following statement:
"The Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobarr during Saturday’s game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter."
After some digging around, gay sports blogger Cyd Ziegler Jr. discovered that during an August 28th game against the New York Yankees, Escobar put on similarly off-putting eye makeup with the phrase "K No Pinga" (that is, "No penis" as in "No penises, please" not as in "I have no penis").
It's possible that Escobar though that writing "penis" under his right eye would make him more intimidating or that "You are a fag" would psyche-out his competitors by making them question their sexuality in the middle of a game.
Either way, Ziegler wondered, "Did one of [Escobar's teammates] write it on his face? Did they notice it and let him walk out of the locker room? Were they laughing? Given how rare the eye black is on Escobarr, it’s impossible to believe teammates—and maybe the team manager—noticed something was different. Why did they not say something?"
At a press conference this Tuesday, the team announced suspended Escobar for three games and pledged to donate his salary from those games (about $83,000) to Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation and the pro-equality sports campaign "You Can Play."
He also agreed to undergo sensitivity training and do public outreach to promote sensitivity and tolerance in sports.
During the press conference, Escobar defended himself by pulling out this groan-worthy chestnut: “I don’t have anything against homosexuals. My decorator is gay, and my hairdresser is gay, and I have various friends who are gay, honestly they haven't been as offended."
Oh God. Really? Your hairdresser and decorator?? Really?!!
Yes, and some of our best friends are homophobes! By the way, it is possible to have gay friends and to still be a homophobe. In fact, using them as proof that you're not only reinforces the perception that you are.
He also said, "They have just a different understanding in the Latin community of this word... It didn’t have significance to the way that’s being interpreted right now. That’s not the significance that I put into it. That’s a word used often within teams. It’s a word without meaning, the way we use it.”
That may be the case, but native speakers of any language can be unaware of the biases contained in common expressions. In the homophobic, English-speaking world of North American pro sports (which has no openly gay players) anti-gay slurs take on even more of a negative meaning.
Escobar continued: "In reality, I’d like to ask for [forgiveness from] anyone offended by this. I'm sorry for what happened, and I guarantee this won't happen again in my career."
In an apparent attempt to respond to the questions Ziegler rasied, club manager John Farrell said no one paid attention to Escobarr's eye makeup because Escobar regularly writes "uplifting" messages under his eyes, something that Ziegler called " a blatant lie."