The second stage of the dust up is not about Warthen’s racial attitudes, but about the media’s reporting on the whole affair.
Woo’s focus is on Warthen’s use of the word “Chinaman,” a word that was once in common usage but is now regarded as a degrading nickname (as I think most decently-educated people realize).
Warthen suffered the consequences for his insensitivity and said he was sorry.
Now, perhaps fairly, Mets players are wondering why that stuff even needs to get out of the clubhouse in the first place.
Pitcher Jon Niese for one is reportedly bent out of shape about the whole thing. Newsday’s Anthony Rieber tweeted:
Jon Niese to a group of reporters: “Stop Tweeting about our clubhouse. That —-’s got to stop.”
— Anthony Rieber (@therealarieber) March 13, 2014
A reporter tweeting about a player telling reporters not to tweet. It’s a house of mirrors.
But does Niese have a point? Is a stupid joke by a pitching coach even really news? Even if it contains ethnic insensitivity?
Doesn’t that kind of stuff go on all the time in clubhouses and locker rooms?
Are reporters going to breathlessly tweet and even write whole articles about it every time someone cracks a bad joke or smacks someone on the butt with a towel?
Locker room culture and the “bullying” that goes on behind the scenes of sports has been in the news a lot lately, and there is a push by the PC police to clean that whole thing up and get everyone on a more sensitive, tolerant path.
I’m all for tolerance, and I do think there’s a line that if people cross it, there’s legitimate news value. Had Dan Warthen put on a Charlie Chan costume and started speaking fake Chinese in a really comical voice in front of Jeff Cutler, that might be crossing the line.
Warthen’s little “Chinaman” joke is silly but I’m not sure it’s news. I think sometimes reporters are a little too eager to play the gotcha game. Everything it seems is potential fodder for controversy. And once it gets on social media, it just turns into a whole gigantic thing that no one can control.
Eventually, it just becomes tiring. So yeah, Jon Niese may have a point. Dan Warthen may be a dope, but he’s probably only a dope, and it’s not news every time a dope says something dopey.
I realize Stu Woo is Asian himself and therefore has a different perspective on the whole thing, but I wonder if any larger educating purpose was served by his piece, or if it was just about playing the gotcha game.