By: Martin Weiss
The United States is a country built upon several core values which make us different than most other countries. One of the most important, Freedom of Speech, is both a cause of pride and contention. In a world where everyone is a freelance iPhone cameraman, any embarrassing or inflammatory comment is online in minutes for public scrutiny.
Riley Cooper, backup wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, was recorded angrily shouting a racial slur at a security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert. After the video was released a couple of days ago, many people think Riley Cooper should be cut or suspended. He should be punished, but he should not be forced to lose any time from his team preparing for the season.
The N word is one of the most charged words in society today. Public use incites outrage on all ends of the spectrum, and rightfully so. Some say the word has become a “term of endearment”, but the N word initially was used to belittle and dehumanize African-Americans throughout history and its roots remain there. And events like this are good reminders that while our country has progressed remarkably, racism is alive and well today. However, suspending Cooper would be extremely hypocritical.
When I first heard what Cooper said, I wasn’t shocked. What was surprising was the Eagles sending him out of camp to undergo sensitivity training while he’s taking first team reps (Starting WR Jeremy Maclin hasn’t been practicing due to injury) and the public outrage expressed by people in the media.
It’s ironic that this video of Cooper, filmed at a concert in June where he had been drinking and was enjoying a day off work, surfaced around the same time 49er’s defensive back Chris Culliver tore his ACL. You may remember Culliver as the player who said that he would not accept a gay teammate and other similar remarks during the Super Bowl media week. Culliver’s comments sparked discussion about homophobia in sports, but Culliver did not receive a suspension of any form. Nor was there any mention of Culliver being excused from the team for sensitivity training. Just to put it in context, Culliver’s quotes were pulled from a radio show interview, not a candid cell phone camera. Culliver was inflammatory and offensive while being interviewed as a representative of the 49er’s. While the video doesn’t show what happened before Cooper’s N-bomb, it’s clear that he was angry, intoxicated, and NOT being interviewed wearing an NFL jersey.
I’m not trying to say that homophobia is worse than racism, nor am I trying to downplay the gravity of either Cooper’s or Culliver’s statements. I wish that we lived in a world where people respected one another and didn’t say derogatory statements about others. But since we don’t, there should be some uniformity in both reaction and punishment.