Minorities, Gays, People with Purple Hair, OH MY!

By The Wanderer, The_Wandering_One@bigfoot.com

Let’s face it, if being an idiot were a sin, Heaven would be emptier than Johnny Rocker’s head. In the past few weeks, it has been established that the 25 year-old Atlanta Braves relief pitcher is not exactly playing baseball with a complete team, if you know what I mean. Rocker, whose famous fastball nears 100 mph while his IQ, I can safely assume, will never reach the triple digits, made comments in last month’s issue of Sports Illustrated about such touchy subjects as race and homosexuality and his deep hatred for anything and everything New York.

Rocker let his deepest feelings pour out as if he were in some sort of cross between a group therapy session and an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. In his most disparaging remark to SI, he complained about all the foreigners on the streets of New York.

"Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?’’ he asked.

Rocker, apparently being careful not to leave a single group of people untouched by his words, also said he would not want to ride "the No. 7 train to the ballpark in New York ... next to some queer with AIDS.’’

The current argument about how to deal with the bigoted ballplayer centers on what to do about him and his words. The Atlanta Police Department can’t arrest him, as a good yet not-so-reasonable friend of mine in Missouri suggested they do. After all, freedom of speech is protected by the good ol’ American Constitution! And if one person gets to use the Constitution, then everybody gets to use it (kind of like in school when you can’t have a piece of gum without first buying some for the rest of the class.)

Another popular suggestion is to fire him. In Atlanta, both kinds of protesters, the peaceful-hippie-advocates-of-love and the violent-anti-conspiracy-rioters-with-bad-attitudes, spoke out against those in charge of the team for not getting rid of the now infamous Braves’ relief racist. Even many of Rocker’s teammates have spoken out against him, condemning his blatant stupidity.

Days after the incident received national, and possibly worldwide, attention, Braves president Stan Kasten publicly reproached Rocker for his comments, but also showed some compassion at the same time. He said that in conversations he has had with the now legendary baseball bigot, Rocker has been very apologetic.

Even with these and other great suggestions, Major League Baseball’s response has been to order Rocker to undergo psychological testing. This really doesn’t make sense to me (although I have always debated in my mind about whether intolerant, racist, homophobic people were crazy or not.) What are they hoping to find? That hate is caused by some sort of complex brain disease? I think not.

Rocker is not unlike millions of other Americans. He, for whatever reason, is filled to the brim with hate. But, alas, he has not broken any laws. Although I’d personally like to see him tarred and feathered, he truly doesn’t deserve to be fired. In a society where first-time rapists can get out of jail within six months with good behavior, forcing Rocker to leave his team is kind of going off the edge about how this situation should be dealt with.

I suppose that in the grand scheme of things, Rocker’s true punishment is, quite simply, being John Rocker. He will be remembered by most of society as a shallow, egotistical, uneducated racist and bigot who probably has no real friends (well, no real friends aside from people who ride around in white bed sheets and hoods, anyway.) He has chosen to wear his hate as a banner, and a banner it will be-even on his gravestone.

Some people think that Rocker thought saying these things would make him look "macho" and "tough." Instead, to anybody with at least half a brain, it shows what a pathetic shell of a person Rocker has become. We first saw hints of his disconnection with reality during the National League playoffs last fall against the Mets, when he antagonized New York fans at Shea Stadium. It made for compelling, albeit uncomfortable, television.

Rocker let it all hang out. And he’s finding it tremendously difficult to tuck everything back in.

But people who are calling for harsh punishment are just as wrong as Rocker. This is a free country and freedom of speech, no matter how vile, is perhaps our most important foundation.

Talking to a bunch of psychologists may or may not help Rocker figure out his wrongs and correct them. Who knows if Rocker really feels badly about what he said? I certainly don’t think so! His agents, of course, won’t dare let him get in front of a camera to explain himself (they’re probably afraid he’ll use his time in a public forum to advertise for the latest Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.) Either way, many upset minorities and their sympathizers will not get their wish of seeing Rocker dismissed from his position with the Braves. It is, as I said, his constitutional right to say what he feels without having to fear any legal action or punishment in retaliation.

But don’t be angry, folks. Without the great historical document that makes America "the land of the free," we wouldn’t have our right to fight this sort of garbage with equally harsh words. That being said, let me now exercise MY constitutional right, as if I haven’t already done so, by saying that Rocker is an ignorant, sad, pathetic monster whose words will only INSPIRE others to "enlighten" humanity with their own bigoted meandering of all that is true. He is a walking, talking and, not to mention, spitting (He IS a baseball player, after all!) advertisement for all that is disgusting and despicable about hate.

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