Colin McGowan, Sports on Earth

A Giants fan chucked a banana at Adam Jones. Riley Cooper threatened, emptily and boozily, to "fight every n*****" at a Kenny Chesney concert. The Jackie Robinson statue outside the Brooklyn Cyclones' MCU Park was spray-painted with a swastika and the words "die n*****." Sometimes it's best to state the grisly facts in plain terms, because these sorts of acts don't require context or explanation. Either you understand them as hateful acts, or you don't.

This is different, as incisively pointed out by SBNation's David Roth, than understanding that people will be upset with you if you decide to be a pedant or apologist about these sorts of things -- to parse meaning, quibble over intent and generally just try to find any possible way to construe a bigoted act as anything but. If you're doing this, it means you are building thought-puzzles from the elements of a despicable act and enjoy arguing for no reason, or you're line-stepping for the sake of line-stepping, or you're entirely too hung up on why you shouldn't use a small handful of terms. Or you're a disingenuous ass.

We seem to never have these fraught conversations, for example, when an athlete flips off a crowd. There is usually no close examination of camera angles so as to determine that, yes, indeed, I believe that is a middle finger being extended to a pocket of fans in Row F. When Kevin Garnett (allegedly) told Charlie Villanueva he looked like a cancer patient, there was no whining about how those suffering through cancer are too thin-skinned. I've never once heard anyone argue that a sophomoric fan's behind-home-plate blowjob pantomime routine could "in a vacuum" be construed as non-sexual, and yet "n*****" seems to get twisted around every which way, in an attempt to make it not mean exactly what it means. Specious logic is the last bastion of cowards who know they are wrong.

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