NASCAR is looking far from impressive for the way they’ve handled an incident that occurred over the weekend, when driver Clint Bowyer said that opponent Jeff Gordon’s actions on the track made them and their fellow racers “all look like a bunch of retards.”
From sbnation.com’s Jeff Gluck:
After speaking with NASCAR officials about his part in a late-race crash and melee in Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix, Clint Bowyer was both angry and downtrodden over Jeff Gordon’s actions.
Bowyer, who still had an outside chance at winning the Sprint Cup Series championship entering the race, was taken out by Gordon in an act of blatant retaliation that set off a brawl between the teams.
Gordon’s retaliation, Bowyer said, “makes us all look like a bunch of retards.”
Bowyer apologized on Twitter for his use of the word and his message was less than fantastic:
I can’t imagine someone using unacceptable terms like “nigger,” “spic” or “faggot,” issuing an apology like that and it being found acceptable. Like the video at the bottom of this post explains (which is 100% worth taking 30 seconds to watch), “the R-word is the same as every minority slur…” and it needs to be treated that way.
Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using the gay slur “faggot” during a game. I’m not sure why NASCAR isn’t slapping Bowyer with a similar punishment for his insult. He was fined nothing at all by NASCAR for his actions Sunday.
Whenever someone in the spotlight uses the r-word, there’s often discussion about whether it’s really an inappropriate thing to say, since long ago it was an acceptable term for the intellectually disabled. But when people use the word the way Bowyer did, they’re not expressing it as a medical concept from a bygone era or in delicate talks about the issue; they’re using it as an insult.
The n-word wasn’t always considered a derogatory term, but it’s far from appropriate today. The r-word has gone through an evolution as well and the hurt it carries should be clear to people by now, or getting extremely close to it.
In the reader comments for a Sporting News article, “Clint Bowyer ripped by NASCAR fans for using R-word in interview,” many are pointing out that we’ve become too “politically correct” and are “over-sensitive.” But what these people fail to realize is that this isn’t about them.
There’s also a comment on that article from a father saying, “Maybe people are a bit over delicate as some have said but my son, a special needs child and MWR fan was DEVASTATED beyond belief when he heard Clint say that. That’s hard to take as a parent. There is not excuse and the 140 character or less tweeted apology didn’t seem to help when I read it to my son.”
Those who see no harm in Boyer’s words need to open their eyes to the fact that there are people with special needs who are offended by the inappropriate use of the word retarded (there’s been an entire campaign built around this). Isn’t this enough for everyone to consider its inappropriate use unacceptable, the same way other slurs are not tolerated by those with any decency?
Bowyer should have issued a more serious apology that didn’t say anything about how he “was so focused on not saying the F or the A word.” And NASCAR should be sending a message that it won’t tolerate the use of slurs, just as the NBA did with Bryant.
Until NASCAR takes action, they look just as bad as Bowyer.