Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trash talk: public or private?

Nothing is sacred, and little is secret - The Boston Globe:
All-World yapper Kevin Garnett got into it with Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva with 2:39 left in the Celtics’ victory over the Pistons at Auburn Hills, Mich., Tuesday night. Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a skin disorder that causes hair loss, and after the game, he tweeted that Garnett had called him “a cancer patient.’’ As part of a taunt.

Do not underestimate the power of the tweet. The story took on a life of its own. ESPN was quick out of the gate, then the story hit local sports radio. Just after 4 p.m., Garnett issued this statement: “I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact, ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league.’
Shaughnessy adds a little later:
Whichever version you believe, it’s tasteless. It’s offensive. It’s way beyond the typical schoolyard, “You’re fat, you’re ugly, your mother wears army boots.’’ There’s nothing funny about poking fun at cancer. It is a universal scourge. It is off-limits in every arena of mankind.
He then goes on to blame Villanueva for "breaking the code" and publicly sharing, what he claims, Garnett said.

1. I really don't think cancer is "off-limits in every arena of mankind." I don't even know what that means; it seems to imply we should never talk about it or cancer patients, ever. I'm not even sure we shouldn't be able to poke fun cancer patients -- under certain conditions where a soup├žon of outrageous speech is called for. If there was a roast for Christopher Hitchens, for example, I would expect a healthy dose of cancer-related humor. Healthy dose, heh. Anyways, if humor can't be transgressive, then there's a good chance we're taking ourselves far too seriously for our own good.

2. If KG did call Villanueva a "cancer patient," he did it in public. Maybe he only meant for CV to here it, but Rivers claims he did, and I bet some courtside fans did, too. There's no reasonable expectation of privacy there. In a locker room beef, Dan-O may have a point, but trash talk on the floor sometimes gets picked up and heard by more than just the intended recipient. If you don't want to be called out for it, then don't say it, or don't say it until you're in a private space.

Former Husky, Charlie Villanueva,
most emphatically NOT a cancer patient.
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