Morally straight (NSFW) (But unfortunately not the good kind of NSFW, the boring kind)

Posted on July 20, 2012 5:14 pm

Back in 2005, I was a religious bigot in public.  A new team from Salt Lake City with a hideously stupid name – I forget what it was, but man, it was complete unironic self-parody – came to Los Angeles, and I thought it would be hilarious if I yelled references to Utah’s most famous religion at Utah’s new soccer team.

It wasn’t anything that got me arrested, of course.  It was fairly basic stuff on the level you’d hear Laker fans say about the Utah Jazz.  (Think Jim Rome caller.)

Anyway, I thought nothing of it until some time after the game, someone took me to task over it.  He didn’t call me a bigot, he didn’t say I was offensive, he didn’t even say I wasn’t funny.  He just said one thing.

“Dan, don’t you think we have Mormon fans?”

That brought me up pretty sharp.  I’ve tried to take the pledge on religious yap ever since.

So last week, New York’s Empire Supporters Club sang “Seattle Sounders take it up the ass,” to the tune of “Ants Go Marching.” (EDIT – bungled the tune)

I thought the ESC was going to catch Technicolor hell over that one, and…wow.  Nothing.  Here was an organized chant that was pretty much slam-dunk homophobic, on national television, and…well, maybe I’m just being oversensitive, and you all have thicker skins than I do.

Maybe it was just that funny – funny makes up for a lot.  (Or so I’ve read.  I’ve been meaning to try it.)  I certainly don’t see how it’s not offensive.  Yes, women are also capable of performing said act…which would just make the chant sexist as well as homophobic.  And no, not every gay man performs that act, either…but in the words of Maud Lebowski, “Don’t be fatuous.”  Of course it was supposed to be offensive – otherwise, why sing it in the first place?

But like my Mormon jokes, that chant really only works if (1) everyone on the Sounders really is guilty as charged (or are the sort of people who would be mortified and offended by the accusation), and/or (2) no one on the Red Bulls does the same thing.  Nor any of their fans.

To me, that’s the major point of weakness – you’re using a chant that applies to your own team and supporters.  It isn’t even about politics, or offensiveness – it’s about not crapping where you eat.  If I started a chant at the Home Depot Center mocking the other team for having male pattern baldness, how would Landon Donovan react?  Or the Rogaine-ready contingent of Galaxy fans?

So it seemed like a ridiculously ill-advised chant.  However, complete silence from anyone likely to be offended argues otherwise.  Or maybe gay NYRB fans thought the chant was funny, too.  It’s certainly possible.  (This wouldn’t be the first time I misread what was and wasn’t offensive, to say the least.  I rolled my eyes at the hypocrites who thought Rio Ferdinand should be indicted for calling Ashley Cole a “choc ice” – I guess they don’t have Oreo cookies in England – until I read John Amaechi’s reaction to it.)

It’s hard to be value-neutral and apolitical these days.  Take, for example, the Boy Scouts of America.  The BSA is unfortunately best known these days for excluding atheists (understandable, what with the oath and everything – and I say this as a diehard God-hater) and gays (which is much less understandable, to me at least – but both positions are entirely legal).  It’s hugely unlikely that the Boy Scouts-MLS partnership was supposed to be anything more than getting Scouts out to games.

But the Boy Scouts have brought enough negative publicity that, according to Seth Vertelney of Goal.com, MLS is dropping the Scouts after this season.  That’s a serious reversal.

Myself, I’d have dumped the associations with multi-level marketers first.  (I’m fine with palling around with Lance Armstrong, but hopefully that’s a preachy blog post that can be pushed off indefinitely.)   If this isn’t the first time MLS has dropped a corporate or charitable partner due to bad publicity, then I’m at a loss to tell which company would have been.  Over the years MLS has been the dumped far more often than the dumper – which explains partnerships like Herbalife and Xango to begin with.

I think, predictable complaints about political correctness aside, this is a Good Thing.  MLS, like every other sports organization in the 21st century, wants to turn away as few customers as possible.  Even assuming that the inclusive efforts of the Chicago Fire, DC United and Chivas USA are sincere, I think we can also assume we’d see much less of it if there was a likelihood of significant backlash.  There are those who are sincerely offended by such promotions, but it looks as if they will fall in the same category as Heritage Nights or Faith Nights, both of which have been longtime LA Galaxy staples, and neither of which has kept me from coming to games.

…unless all this time the Galaxy have been trying to drop subtle hints….nah.

Which means that “Seattle Sounders take it up the ass” is worse than offensive, worse than insensitive, and even worse than poorly-aimed – it’s out of date.

As far as whether taking it from the back is by definition bad, I’ll leave that discussion to Hugh Honey of Honey & Vinegar Realty.

 

 

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