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UPDATED: Apology? Kobe Bryant: I Didn’t Mean The Word “Fag” Literally.

by David Badash on April 13, 2011

in Bigotry Watch,Sports

Post image for UPDATED: Apology? Kobe Bryant: I Didn’t Mean The Word “Fag” Literally.

Kobe Bryant, the controversial Lakers superstar who last night called the game’s referee a “fucking fag,” today has finally offered a statement — but not an actual apology — issued by the Lakers organization. “What I said last night should not be taken literally,” Bryant said. “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”

Watch: “Kobe Bryant Calls Ref A “Fucking Fag” On Camera (Video)

Here’s what Bryant did not say:

  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I should never have said the words “fucking” or “fag,” or any derivation thereof.
  • I do not hate, dislike, or have other negative feelings about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender communities.

Here’s what Bryant’s words actually mean:

  • I don’t know what the word “fag” actually means.
  • I don’t know what the word “literally” actually means.
  • “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period,” or, in other words, “My level of frustration at the referee — not at myself — was so high I resorted to using a term that sums up the most anger and hatred I could find at the time.”
  • If I had been angry at myself I would not have taken my anger out on someone else.
  • I have serious anger management issues that need to be addressed.

Bryant’s non-apology apology is not accepted, at least not here.

Like HRC said, “America is watching.”

UPDATE: 6:05 PM

HRC has responded to Bryant’s non-apology. Here is their statement:

This morning, HRC condemned the slur: “What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching.  Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT people around the world, but also perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate.  Bryant and the Lakers have a responsibility to speak up on this issue immediately. America is watching.”

While Bryant issued a statement acknowledging the slur, he failed to apologize: “What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”

HRC called on the Lakers organization to weigh in on the slur, given both the prominence of Bryant and the influence he wields on and off the court.

“For better or worse, Kobe Bryant has created a teachable moment for the millions of fans – many of them young – who saw that outburst on the floor,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “And the right thing to do now is to apologize and take responsibility for suggesting that the worst thing you can do to someone is to scream out a gay slur.  This kind of homophobic outburst has dangerous consequences, even more so when it comes from a celebrity in the national spotlight.”

 

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{ 76 comments }

Mickiet April 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Don't worry, I don't mean "asshole" literally either.

Basketball April 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm

you need to calm down. Have you ever stepped foot on a basketball court? The things that people say on are in the heat of the moment and so what if he didn't apologize..he doesn't have to

David Badash April 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I'm not quite sure if you were saying I need to calm down, but let me make this perfectly clear: the hell I do. Bryant is a public figure. If he doesn't like that he can leave his $48 million-dollar salary and hide.

He's a role model (believe it or not!) to millions and when someone like that displays as much hatred, it says to the world, "It's OK to hate gays." Well, it's not.

Michael April 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm

So you guys really believe that the worst thing a person should do is to yell a homosexual slur? You cant be serious. Although not a member, I am an advocate of the GBTL community. But to say its the wort thing Kobe could of yelled is simply ridiculous. Yes, he should have never said it. But you try getting ridiculous calls by a horrible ref without yelling the first thing that is on your mind. That term is used very loosely around the country everyday. But since Kobe is well known, he is fined 100k? Kobe said his statement wasn't said based on his beliefs or said to offend any one. Just because he never said the words IM sorry does not mean he didnt apologize. Let it go already.

Lauren--NY April 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I'd like to see what his reaction would be if someone yelled the n word and then said, "Oh, I didn't mean it literally." What B.S. That word used to be used very loosely around the country, too, until people stood up and did something about it. Get a clue.

"But you try getting ridiculous calls by a horrible ref without yelling the first thing that is on your mind."

Obviously other people manage it. He's an adult; he should learn how to control his mouth.

"Just because he never said the words IM sorry does not mean he didnt apologize."

You don't know what an apology is.

perezti April 13, 2011 at 11:42 pm

to fine someone such an obscence amount of money for something that was said in the heat of the moment is obsurd, not to mention unfair. With regards to the use of the "n" word, we're discussing somethign that is an atttack on masculinity, not discussing race or ethnicity.

CondescendingJerk April 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

You're so right. How misguided of us to expect that athletes conform to the same civility that we expect of our citizens, totally.
Here's an idea, why don't we absolve people that "step foot on a (insert sport) court" of all civility, then they can go sleep in their cages at night, where we keep the animals.

Irma April 19, 2011 at 11:43 pm

So if someone in the "heat of the moment" called him the N word, he should just accept that too?

Davina April 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Despite the fact that he was not literally calling the ref a homosexual, in the most derogatory and hateful way possible, the fact that when needing to vent anger and hate he chose to call the ref a homosexual, in the most derogatory and hateful way possible, is a clear indicator that Mr. Bryant thinks that homosexual men should be hated and viewed as less than a man who is not homosexual. That makes Mr. Bryant a passive aggressive gay bashing asshole. I mean asshole literally. BUt don't be offended because I was just angry and frustrated with the ignorance and hate.
As an athlete you are in the public eye and that requires you to think before you speak even when frustrated because you are being looked up to by millions of Americans. Get help Mr. Bryant and make an attempt to use your position as a public figure to stop the spread of hate and ignorance. Unless, sir, your choice is to propagate the ignorance and hate in which case…as you were.

AbNab April 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Great post Davina and unfortunately Kobe's non-apology apology basically enables people like "Basketball" above.

perezti April 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm

that millions of Americans look up to a sportsperson as a role model is an issue with American society. That such a person should be held to a higher standard is debatable.

barbet April 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm

the gays can say this to each other,but straght people can,t say anything ,,sick of gay people taking over everything in the news,,big deal u r gay,,theres kids being raped ,young people getting killed over wars they have no ideas whats it about,,,pity pity

David Badash April 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Um, I'm not sure which of – "the gays" as you put it – are "saying this to each other," because I don't know any who do. Nice try.
You're sick of "gay people taking over everything in the news?" Really? Then work to get us full equality and I guarantee you we'll be happy to be in the news less.

AGREED April 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I 2nd that!

Brian Cartwright April 14, 2011 at 2:41 am

oh, boo hoo, straight people can't say anything. fuck off and grow up.

selkie April 16, 2011 at 5:03 am

There are also young people getting killed because they're gay, or people think they're gay. Gay rights are human rights. This is not a zero sum game.

Jay Cruz April 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Oh, and we would all be forgiven for accidentally spouting the "n" word on a basketball court, right? (or even ice skating rink if that feels better) Even though it wasn't meant literally? Could you imagine Johnny Weir screaming that the n-word to an ice-skaing judge? I'm sure nobody would care, right?

lovall April 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

why are you afraid to spell out the word nigger? it's a word…that nobody means literally, right?

vito April 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Because out of respect for Americans of African decent we don't use that word. Nice people don't.

Harry April 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Kobe Bryant is an extremely high profile athlete who, for better or worse, is a role model for young impressionable athletes. He displayed poor sportsmanship and disrespect. These are the kind of words and actions that fuel the bullies that target GLBT and provide feedback to young and newly realized GLBT that they are not considered, nor respected. In a lifetime of dealing with bullying, his words could have been the ones to beat down someone to the point where "it's never getting better." He should be held accountable for his words and actions. People need to get back to the civility in respectful discourse without stooping to coarse language. Kobe Bryant is an arrogant African American athlete.

DC Law Girl April 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I agree with most of your post. Your last sentence, however, made me pause. Why did you feel the need to add his race in there? Are you showing a bit of your own ignorance? What Kobe said was wrong, period. His race had nothing to do with it.

Speedy April 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

GLADD-WRAP IT!

Unless any of these fools complaining were there and specifically heard it – go away. You're lip reading, drawing conclusions and looking for any opportunity to be heard and create controversy. The guy's in the heat of battle and you DO NOT know what he said. Ever heard of the McGurk Effect? You are drawing conclusions without proof. Stop this nonsense, demanding an apology, grow up! ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypd5txtGdGw )

@JoshtheFez April 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Are you actually trying to suggest he didn't say it, when he so clearly does in the video? Even Kobe didn't try to claim that, because he knows that would be ludicrous. Of course, you also claim no one should care that a celebrity is tacitly endorsing homophobia, as if it could not possibly affect anyone who didn't hear it themselves, so I'm not sure you have a very firm grip on reality. You do back up this theory by confusing the heat of battle with a grown man's temper tantrum over a game, after all.

David Badash April 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Um, he's already admitted it. See, when someone issues a statement saying, "I didn't mean it," that means they said it. OK? Next question?

perezti April 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm

the undertsanding that he said it is implied, not explicit.

uberfangirl April 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Wait, what? "Heat of battle"?! Silly me, I thought basketball was a game.

Betty April 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Would he have taken the "N" word literally? Using the word "fag" is like using the word "nigger" there is no difference! They are both mean and full of HATERED and have no buisness being used at all!!

Harry April 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm

In tennis there are rules, regulations and fines for such language and behavior. Ask Serena Williams about her "in the heat of the moment" words to a line judge at the US Open 2010.

Jonathan April 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Wow really? people are so damn sensitive, who gives a crap, i personally thought it was hilarious

David Badash April 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Yeah… Why don't you tell us your nationality, orientation, country of origin, race, etc., and then we'll pull a Kobe Bryant slur on you and see how that goes.
Hate is hate.

Jonathan April 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I don't care, im hispanic and i get a kick out of it when some one calls me a spic, sticks and stones man

Chris April 13, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Well said Jonathan. I am a gay white who is always surrounded by hispanics and blacks who tease me with very "offensie" slurs. I am disappointed at the gay community who finds every little excuse to make us look like douche bags. When Kobe Bryant goes up to a gay bar and starts screaming "F all you Fs" then I will consider your views on Bryant. "Hate is hate" eh, that seems to be a very bad argumentative fallacy…

CAngelina April 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I'm sorry that you think the abuse you've tolerated means that all gay or hispanic people should tolerate it, but standing up for yourselves doesn't make anyone look like douche-bags except the haters – and may I say, as a female white douche-bag, that I take offense to the suggestion that it does.

Chris April 13, 2011 at 11:35 pm

I disagree Jonathan. As a person who was bullied growing up, hearing people call me names really set in after a while. I was constantly name called, beaten up, harassed so much to the point I tried to commit suicide. WORDS CAN HURT PEOPLE. You don't know the other person's story, or what they've been through, think twice before calling people names.

jackfertig April 24, 2011 at 5:47 am

There's a time and a place. My husband is Mexican-American and we sometimes use words in affectionate jest that would be VERY different coming from a total outsider screaming in your face in anger.

Lloyd April 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Maybe your gay son or daughter wouldn't. Sorry I said that in the heat of the moment.

David Badash April 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm

As I said above: Let me make this perfectly clear: the hell I do. Bryant is a public figure. If he doesn't like that he can leave his $48 million-dollar salary and hide.

Johnny Dago April 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I'm Italian and you can call me a wop or a dago all you want. You can make fun of my small weenie, too. Doesn't really matter to me one bit. The comment was directed by Kobe to an official. Has anyone asked the official how he feels about it? He probably doesn't give a flying crap. Why not find something important to gripe about and let this go?

Lauren--NY April 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm

That's because you're also a pushover. I'm Italian, too, and if you call me a dago I'll kick your ass (and I doubt I'd have much trouble), because you're disrespecting my family.

Your family probably came through Ellis Island to give you a better life, too. Too bad you don't seem to give a shit.

Jake April 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I love Internet tough guys (gals?).

Eric Hamwey April 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Saying Fag now a days describes anybody……not just homosexuals…….it's like he said asshole or prick to the ref….nothing more……if you want a full explanation and a example of what i'm talking about…watch the South Park episode entitled The F Word season 13…….

Demarcus April 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jgxlPfSr-0

Kenyon Martin did the same thing and did not get hit with a fine. Is it because he's not as well known as Kobe? Double standard for David Stern?

Lauren--NY April 14, 2011 at 2:22 am

One is a slur; one is an exclamation. Learn the difference.

Brian Cartwright April 14, 2011 at 2:28 am

no, it's like saying "nigger", or "kike", or "chink" when you forget something important or burn your finger on the stove.

Lady Gaga April 14, 2011 at 6:43 am

Unfortunately for the GLT community that term has garnered an alternate meaning in today's society. Gay equals stupid and Fag is synonymous with asshole. Listen leave the definitions for Websters. Instead look for a new group of people to ostracize and hope that it takes root.

Last part was a joke in all seriousness he had a camera in his face… heat of the moment. Things slip. I'm sure if I put a hidden cameras in a few unsuspecting white homes we would hear a few derogatory terms about the mexican family across the street. Just watch Borat, we are innately racist as a species, we cant help but see the differences.. The most unsuspecting people are thinking some awful things. Think about it like this as a country we are much more likely to add an amendment for per say gay marriage, but less likely limit freedom of speech. Pick your battles. Or just put your fingers in your eyes and scream lala so you can hold on to your dreams of a PC utopia

CAgnelina April 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I'm so glad the author said it. You have to wonder what Kobe Bryant thinks the literal definition is. And would he be shocked to know that it would have been better if he *did* mean it literally?

CAngelina April 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Um, anyone who yells 'fag' when they stub their toe should see a counselor. They need to work through some stuff. It literally means kindling, and implies the use of gay people's corpses to be the kindle in the act of intentionally flaying other human beings, more worthy of the state sanctioned cruel capital punishment, than people of same sex relations. That's what it means. Somehow, that's not where I go when I've given myself a boo-boo.

CAngelina April 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Nope, he doesn't need to apologize any more than I need to go to a game at the Staple's center, drink vitamin water, or play anything other than Halo and COD for the next year or so.

Crazedapache April 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Our society is almost unbearable right now. Everyone is so sensitive in America. I'm ashamed to be an American.

Bob April 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm

And your post makes me proud to be a Canadian. Everyone wins! (except the systematically discriminated members of the LGBT community, of course).

Crazedapache April 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Gay people use the word just like black people use the N word.

Fil April 18, 2011 at 1:22 am

Not all of us do.

grirova April 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I am frankly disgusted with all the people here making excuses for Bryant. No, this isn't really THAT big a deal. There are plenty of issues in the world that are more serious. But that doesn't mean that what he said was ok.
Regardless of whether or not this is a slur against gays, it's just bad sportsmanship on his part. Yelling at a ref is not ok. Swearing at a ref is not ok. Acting like a big baby because you disagree with a call is not good behavior. If Bryant wants to act like a jerk while in the "heat of the game," that IS his prerogative, but that doesn't mean that we should accept or apologize for his jerkiness.

Osori April 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

To all the folks out there who demand that the so-called "complainers" or the "over-sensitive" or the "politically correct" just shut up when other people in society are being disrespectful, offensive, and out of line:

YOU don't have the right to tell me what to care about, YOU don't have the right to tell me what I can or cannot get upset by, YOU are not the arbiter of when OTHER people have the right to get offended or not.
Just because YOU don't get upset by something doesn't mean OTHER people have to be as willing to take such abuse.

This is human decency 101. Dignity – Respect – Class. Kobe broke these rules – not us. Nobody's "out to get" Kobe, we just want him to adhere to human decency 101 – treat others with the dignity, respect, and class that you yourself would want for yourself, your family, your friends. And if you have a low standard for respect, don't assume others want to hold that low standard for themselves – aim higher when others are concerned.

Osori April 15, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Far from being too "politically correct" – we are now a society where you are guaranteed to see every comment thread full of people arguing that the real villains in society are those who dare point out the fact that someone is stepping out of line with racist, sexists, or homophobic disrespect.

For a far too large a chunk of the population – it's always okay to issue slurs and it's always wrong to stand up against them. That's disgusting – and far, far worse than the so-called problem of "political correctness."

Erika April 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

You all are dumb. Grow up and get a life. If you looking up to a basketball player instead of looking to God you aren't well-adjusted. So he said something offensive, it's distasteful at best. For the record, fag was a term used long before it was applied to LGBT people. Nigger was not. That's what makes it an everyday word. By the way, if you called me nigger I'd beat your f-ing ass and call it a day. I don't need any piss-ass apology. Grow a brain and some balls and stop jumping on this bogus bandwagon.

David Badash April 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Aren't you just a gem!
Now, how about the fact that over 100 LGBTQ 15 to 24 year olds die by suicide EVERY MONTH. Are you going to tell a kid who's getting bulllied — bullied because the bully heard Kobe Bryant and his parents call gay people faggots — that he should "Grow up and get a life" and "Grow a brain and some balls and stop jumping on this bogus bandwagon?"
You know what? Don't bother answering. I have an idea already.

david April 29, 2011 at 7:41 am

"For the record, fag was a term used long before it was applied to LGBT people." Unfortunately, now, it is a term that carries with it all the hate and prejudice of "nigger." Both are words that are used to humiliate and dehumanize.

"By the way, if you called me nigger I'd beat your f-ing ass and call it a day. I don't need any piss-ass apology." Given your anger in this statement, it seems that you are not well-adjusted. Surely, someone calling anyone any derogatory term would invoke rage. However, assault or, perhaps, murder only lands the original victim of the term in jail. What does that solve? If anything, you would end up playing to the racist views of bigots, who would ultimately find sympathy for the one who instigated the physical act of violence in the first place.

Your own statements here simply evoke the heteronormative hegemonic norms that allow racism, misogynism, homophobia and all types of oppression to persist.

Lloyd April 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I'd like to comment on the term, "In The Heat of the Moment," of which is mentioned often by some posters. Road rage happens in the heat of the moment. Someone is cut off by another driver, he chases the other car, blocks it, jumps out and beats the driver to death with a tire iron. Heat of the moment, give the poor guy a break. Kobe Bryant calls the referee a F——g Fag. A teenager who is dealing with his or her sexuality is watching their role model on T.V. They go to the basement, find some rope and hang themselves. Oh well, it's not Kobe's fault, or is it?

Jeff Omalanz-Hood April 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm

The fact that it is in everyday use is not an excuse, it is a disgrace. This is a term that is tossed in the face of young people many times a day in the course of teaching them that they are less than animals because they don't meet the "normal" kids idea of a representative of their gender. It is often accompanied with brutal beatings and constant harassment until the children's entire life is reduced to seeking a few minutes here and there where they are not in hell.
But you want to say it, so screw those kids right?

Tinker April 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm

GET OVER IT!

Wonderful... April 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Being rude right back isn't useful. You do not get an excuse to go down to his level just because some idiot named Kobe can't think past the next 5 seconds of his life.

Tink April 23, 2011 at 3:23 am

yeah right…you only apologise when your publicly named and shamed…and saw the support against your homophobic comments……your "apology" sounds "rehearsed' ,like you were coached by those in 'damage control' and as such appears shallow.
Suggest you need educating on homophobia, discrimination, humanitarianism, and english…not anger management

Ryan April 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

Wow. I don't think I've ever seen so much heterosexism, straight privilege, and ignorance of the powers of discrimination all on one page before.

SAGACIOUS_SAM July 21, 2011 at 12:33 am

It is evident to anyone with a modicum of knowledge of sports that Kobe wasn't calling anyone a FAGGOT faggot. In all likelihood he meant it in a high school kind of way, where you call anyone you don't like a faggot, irrespective of whether they exhibit any effeminacy or not. In the heat of sports contest anger, you don't mean it literally when you call someone a motherfucker or a pile of shit, so Kobe's statement on the nonliteral aspect is very plausible.

Even ignoring the foregoing, there is no law that anyone, including athletes are required to approve of everyone's lifestyle, or refrain from voicing disapproval. There is also no law that individuals or groups have a right to be insulated from opinions that they don't like. Just as a general matter, there is something ludicrous about forcing jocks to act sensitive about the homosexual lifestyle.

David Badash July 21, 2011 at 1:00 am

Blah blah blah — bullshit. Tell that to the 14 year old kid who is gay who hears his father use the word "faggot" — oh, but in "a high school way" — and tell him it shouldn't hurt and he is respected.
Attitudes like yours are what lead kids to move toward suicide, or thinking about it.

I suppose you won't mind if I call you an insensitive jackass — "in a high school way."

@JoshtheFez April 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Science is haaard.

Clinton April 14, 2011 at 2:06 am

And if abortion was illegal there would be even more ignorant twits like you in the world, therefore logic is irrelevant when your brain is too small for genetic mutations or something.

CAngelina April 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Your command of the genetic component to evolution as astounding – I know because I'm sitting here astounded.

Lauren--NY April 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm

So? It's still a hateful, prejudiced response to an inborn quality.

It's a private corporation; they can fine him whatever they want. This jerk makes $48 million a year to play a game. $100,000 is a drop in the bucket for him. Cry sad tears for someone else.

Richard W. Fitch April 14, 2011 at 12:13 am

The amount of the fine calculates to 0.2% of his annual contract; which is more obscene – the fine or the salary??

butlerindrag April 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

You are right we aren't discussing race. And we aren't even discussing masculinity either. He wasn't calling the ref a woman, but lets also pause for a second to consider the fact that one of the worst things you can call a man is a woman and what that means about all the women whom we love. Instead he used a word that has been and continues to be a word that is used with hatred and anger. The worst thing he could think of to call the ref in that moment was a gay man. And you are right it is inherently tied to gender by the fact that we associate gay men as effeminate and woman-like. It goes beyond that though to a word that many gay men have had thrown at them as they are about to get punched in the gut. I have heard it said that athletics is the last strong hold of homophobia, and with sports stars such as Mr. Bryant standing up and not apologizing for this violent language he only reinforces that so it is no wonder that there aren't any out NBA players or that a number queer identified people don't feel comfortable in these venues.

David Badash April 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

One more like that and your comments get deleted and you get banned. Forewarned is fair-warned.

mystery April 16, 2011 at 3:14 am

and you sound like a bad parent. I hope you dont tell your 3 year old that but then again you already made a mistake by having a kid because he/she will be an idiot like you. ignorant excuse for a human, dont you have somewhere else to hang out and be stupid. tired of asswipes like you. insulting everyone, hope your kid turns out gay and then you'll know what it feels like.

Lloyd April 16, 2011 at 4:57 am

Are you the original Adam? You must be still hung-over from the poisonous fruit. Your life must be very boring Adam, or perhaps you might seek some medical attention.

@calling_cthulhu April 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm

The 1st Amendment does no mean what you think it means. It only guarantees that Congress will not limit your right to speech. This means that the government, governmental agencies and things funded by the government are affected. Private corporations, universities, people you chose to do business with? They have every right to limit your speech in any way they damn well like. This is how when you agree to the TOS for most websites/games/organizations they have clauses about acceptable behavior that include restricting your speech.
As far as Kobe's responsibility, he actually does have a responsibility (and a legal obligation) to not use hateful speech while representing the NBA. It's in the contract he signed to get his absurd salary. As David has pointed out, if he doesn't want to follow to rules of the contract he signed, he can give his contract back and stop playing.
Finally, unless you've decided to crown yourself the head of the LGBTI movement, you have zero relevance and credibility in determining what is 'important' to that community. A classic derailing technique used to silence women, African-Americans, Latinos and just about every group every arguing for equality. And fuck you very much for making judgments about what IS important. As someone who got called a fag while kids threw rocks at me growing up, just because they THOUGHT I MIGHT be gay, I find your assumption that this is irrelevant so offensive.
Frankly, this determined effort to defend Kobe Bryant's words and behavior is almost as bad as the original problem. There are tons of little kids who have Kobe Bryant's poster up on their wall or wear his jersey. Kids are much more likely to see their parents and friends defending his actions or telling people to calm down and THAT will stick in their minds.

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