The LGBT community gained two victories this week – first when the NHL suspended Andrew Shaw for using a gay slur, and again when ESPN fired Curt Schilling for yet another offensive social media post.
We’ll start with Shaw, the Blackhawks forward who was suspended for Game 5 of Chicago’s first-round playoff series with St. Louis.
“To be clear, it was definitely a strong message,” OutSports writer Cyd Zeigler told Damon Amendolara and Jason La Canfora, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Anytime you get somebody suspended for a game, it’s a big deal. Suspended for a playoff game? That’s unheard of. Five years ago, the NBA kind of shied way from that when Kobe (Bryant) used the same word. For the NHL to do that now, that sends a strong message. They suspend people for racial slurs, and if they didn’t suspend him for this gay slur, there would have been a lot of questions. I didn’t think they were going to do it. I’m glad they did.”
Shaw’s response to the suspension – an apology – was in stark contrast to that of Schilling, who made insensitive remarks about the transgender community.
“Schilling’s first reaction was, ‘I didn’t do this,’” Zeigler said. “Well, he didn’t realize that I had taken screen captures and that somebody had sent me a screen capture from a phone. I think the only reason that Schilling got canned is we had the evidence. You can’t deny it.”
Many people have criticized Schilling’s dismissal, saying he was merely exercising his first-amendment rights.
Is it possible that we, as a society, have become too sensitive?
“Well, for me, one of the things I always look for is the person willing to learn and are they remorseful?” Zeigler said. “I’ve made mistakes before, and when I realize I make them, I admit my mistake and try to figure out how to make it better. It’s great to see Andrew Shaw do that. He’s admitted a mistake and he’s going to make it better. Schilling is the complete opposite. He just says, ‘It’s all everybody else’s fault, and I hate the media. If you are offended, it’s your own fault.’ Is it possible to be too sensitive? I suppose so, but this is not something new. The NHL was suspending players for racial slurs in the 1990s. Major League Baseball suspended John Rocker for a half a month for just comments that he used – not slurs, comments that he made in Sports Illustrated in 2000 and on and on and on. The PC police – this is not something new. This has been going for at least 20 years where these leagues say, ‘We don’t want to be associated with bigotry.’ I don’t think that’s a bad statement for them to make.”
ESPN, Zeigler pointed out, is one of the most LGBT-friendly sports companies in the world, and Schilling has made several ignorant and insensitive remarks in the past about all sorts of topics.
“He’s made comments about Hillary Clinton and Muslims,” Zeigler said. “This image, to a trans person, was so grotesque and the comment that accompanied the image – and then the comment that Schilling left on the image on Facebook, and then the 90-word screed that he left blaming everyone, literally saying, ‘If you’re offended, it’s all your fault. I didn’t do anything wrong.’ – the combination of things that unfolded over the course of a couple hours on Tuesday made it impossible to not fire him. . . . I think straight people can’t understand how horrific this image was.”