By John Fund –
The London Olympics features 302 events. But this year there clearly is a new category: racial sensitivity. These Olympic Games are rife with examples of people taking offense, and it’s time to discuss some guardrails and guidelines before political correctness takes over completely.
First, some behavior on the part of athletes is clearly out of bounds. After Swiss footballer Michel Morganella’s team lost to South Korea, he said on Twitter that his opponents could “go burn” and were a “bunch of mongoloids.” That’s hardly sporting behavior, and he was sent home for insulting the dignity of the Korean team. Beyond that, it was just offensive speech.
And sometimes it’s the critics who are clearly out of line. NBC was deluged with criticism because it ran an ad that offended fans of gold-medal-winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, who is black. NBC commentator Bob Costas had just finished a commentary in which he said that “much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas” when a gymnastics-themed commercial appeared promoting NBC’s comedy Animal Practice. It featured a small, grinning monkey doing gymnastic tricks.
Because African Americans have sometimes been compared to simians by people trying to dehumanize them, many viewers complained the ad was racist. NBC responded with an apology and an explanation that the ad was placed in the lineup of commercials long before Douglas won her medal. That should end that story.
Then there are the cases in the middle. Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was expelled from her country’s Olympic team last week after she tweeted a tasteless joke. In a reference to a recent outbreak of West Nile virus in Greece, she said that with so many Africans living in Greece, the mosquitoes carrying the virus would be eating “homemade food.” She was promptly booted for making racist comments “contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympics movement.”