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Racism and Rocker

The controversy started when John Rocker, the relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves baseball team, told a reporter from Sports Illustrated magazine just how he felt about New York Mets fans. When asked if he would ever play for the New York Mets, Rocker told the reporter that he “would retire first.” He also added, “Imagine having to take the number 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It s depressing.” In his fit of frustration he also made a comment about Asians, Koreans, Vietnamese, Indians, Russians, and Hispanics. Then he proceeded to ask the reporter “How the hell did they get in this country?” To add fuel to the fire, he also called his own teammate an “overweight, black, fat monkey.”

After all of the comments had been made, the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig ordered that Rocker take psychological tests before a punishment would be decided upon. Many people feel that Rocker should be fined, and others feel that he should be released from the Braves organization. Overall, John Rocker is a racist because of comments that he made which offended people of other races.

Is John Rocker really a racist? To find out, racism must be defined. Racism is defined in Merriam-Webster s Dictionary as:

“A belief that a class of people, unified by common interests, habits, or characteristics, is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

About a month after the magazine article was published, Rocker went to the public with an apology. He said that he was sorry for the comments, and that he was not racist. Rocker backed that up by saying that he had three teammates that were minorities from outside of the United States live with him during the season. He finished his apology by saying that he did not mean to offend anyone, and that one comment does not make him racist. Though Rocker did help out three of his teammates, but he offended other races as a whole with his comments. By definition, that qualifies him as a racist.

Consider the fact that in the O.J. Simpson trial, the chief detective, Mark Fuhrman had made tapes that contained slurs of other races. These quotes made whites inherently superior to blacks and Mexicans. It is funny how Mark Fuhrman s one comment makes him a racist, but John Rocker s comments do not. Both Rocker s and Fuhrman s comments made whites out to be superior to blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Koreans, Indians, and Russians. Another interesting point is that in today s society, one rape makes someone a rapist, one homicide makes someone a murderer, and one burglary makes someone a thief. Therefore, one racist comment or gesture makes someone a racist.

On a smaller scale, Rocker is also offending people that have the same “interests, habits, or characteristics.” Recall Rocker s “image” of the number 7 train in New York. Rocker s comment is offensive to homosexuals, single mothers, and former convicts. The comment makes Rocker look like he is above, or superior to these people, and that he does not want anything to do with them. His comment was out of line, and Sports Illustrated even wrote, “Rocker is rarely tongue-tied when it comes to bashing those of another race or sexual orientation.” Rocker is putting down people with similar interests, habits, or characteristics, and also, those of another race. In return, Rocker is making himself look superior to these people.

Rocker s apology was a good public relations move, but it failed miserably. Rocker said that his comments should not have offended anyone, but they did. Rocker said that he and his teammate joke back and forth, and that he has called his teammate a “fat monkey” before. His teammate claims that he is lying. His teammate also claims that Rocker has no relationships with the black guys or the Latin guys on the team.

In closing, John Rocker is a racist because his actions and his words make him seem superior to other races and groups of people. Despite the apology, Rocker s comments still sting the hearts of many, and will remain in the subconscious of the players and races that he offended for longer than any suspension or fine will be able to take care of. What goes around comes around, and Rocker will soon get what is coming to him.


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