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Obnoxious Boston Fan

Next Time You Call 6 Million Bruins Fans Racist, Get Your Damn Facts Straight

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The police in Montreal are on red, white and blue alert.

Their concern isn't a repeat of the failed American invasion in 1812.

Nope, the Canadiens are playing a home playoff game Tuesday night and their own fans may destroy their own city if the Canadiens happen to win.

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"We are concerned about (potential problems), but we are working with the police and we have a plan," the city council member in charge of public security told the Associated Press. "We are ready and we hope it's going to work."

Montreal has a rich history of post-hockey rioting. When the Bruins win a Stanley Cup, there's a Duck Boat parade and millions fill Boston's streets to celebrate. When the Canadiens won Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993, all hell broke loose downtown.

This isn't confined to championships. There was post-game rioting after the Canadiens beat Boston in a Game 7 in 2008. Businesses were looted. Police cars burned. That melee resulted in 16 arrests and $500,000 in damages.

Mon Dieu! It happened again two years later. Police and rioters clashed again on Ste-Catherine Street after the team ousted Pittsburgh.

Let's see. We have a rich, deep past history of civic unrest after hockey games. We have the actions of a few being projected out upon the many. Throw in a couple of Tweets and that would be all the proof you need that every single Canadiens fan is completely incapable of acting in a civilized manner.

Lock 'em all up until the Bruins are safely south of the border.

Bunch of insane loons, these zany French Canadians. After all, they have a reputation for animalistic behavior in recent years after playoff hockey games, especially when they win.

It's obvious the Canadiens and their media apologists have yet to learn to how to control their fans when it comes to the general norms of crowd behavior. They're all animals and can't be trusted to gather en masse to watch a hockey game.

The Bruins ought to demand that the NHL to move the game out of Montreal and to a safer location, like Syria or Eastern Ukraine.

And ... stop. The preceding five paragraphs are an over-the-top example of we at The OBF Blog call "cultural stereotyping." Guilt by association. That would be taking an individual occurrence, or two, committed by a handful of people, and extrapolating that behavior on to an entire city, region, or fan base.

Doesn't taste good, Montreal, does it?

"Cultural stereotyping" is something "racist" Boston Bruins fans have been dealing with since Willie O'Ree made his NHL debut for Boston against Montreal in Jan. 18, 1958. O'Ree was the first black player in NHL history and beat Pumpsie Green into the Red Sox lineup by a full 19 months.

The Bruins, their fans, and pretty much anyone who has ever lived in Greater Boston past and present was indicted by a handful of Twitter haters after Game 1. The real story behind how this became just a big story is almost as troubling as the Tweets themselves.

The cataylst for the grossly false and culturally stereotypical reportage that the "n-word" was trending on Twitter in Boston Thursday night can be traced to a Tweet posted by Montreal soccer columnist Arcadio Marcuzzi. It was an easy assumption to make because there were people, self-indentifed on Twitter as Bruins' fans, who were using that epithet in regard to Subban. Remember, there were racial epithets directed at Joel Ward after he and the Capitals ousted the Bruins in 2012.

And Boston, is, well, Boston. It doesn't matter that the Summer of '74 was 40 years ago or that it's been nearly 25 years since Charles Stuart "committed suicide" after killing his wife, shooting himself and blaming a black man for the attack. It's too damn easy to believe things never change.

They did it before. They'll do it again. Just like those hockey fans who plan to demolish Downtown Montreal if the Canadiens win a game or two up there.

Marcuzzi's since-deleted Tweet was enough to inspire Montreal pro soccer player Patrice Bernier., who has more than 14,800 followers, to post this:

Tweet

Note the #BostonStrong hashtag. So witty.

That post - minus the retraction above - was the smoking Tweet here. It was retweeted more than 120 times and represented a potential cumlative reach of more than 1.3 million impressions, according to data generated by Sysomos MAP.

A potential audience of 1.3 million waking up Friday believing the "n-word" was trending in Boston because Bernier told them so. No one expects an athlete to fact-check a Tweet he receives from the feed of a journalist. That's supposed to happen in reverse. Bernier certainly had a right to be pissed, like the rest of us. But fell into the culturally stereotypical narrative that says every white person associated with Greater Boston, or roots for a Boston sports team in 2014, is racist.

Past performance. Just like those rioters in Montreal.

Marcuzzi subsequently issued this explanation.

You do have to be impressed by self-righteousness and sanctimony by so many who opined on this over the past three days, especially people who can't seem to get their facts straight. I prefer self-deprecation, sarcasm and the truth whenever possible.

In all seriousness, the best summation of this came from Boston.Com's own Eric Wilbur right here.

In addition to not tolerating racism. many of us in this profession don't tolerate fake news becoming real news. We all screw up on Twitter once in a while. I know I do, especially when I'm trying to pull stats or responding to people while multitasking but not driving.

For instance, I Tweeted that the Patriots won Super Bowl XLVI, congratulated President Romney on his electoral victory and complimented Rolling Stone on its cover last August. Oh, wait, I didn't.

Bernier would also retweet Marcuzzi's retractions shared above, but the word that the "n-word" had been a trending topic in Boston would be reported by State Run Media, literally, across Canada. That being the CBC.

The CBC upped the ante in the "every Bruins fan is racist" race for page-views at the expense of accurate journalism with this story Friday. It originally included the fact that "the racial epithet was Trending on Twitter" in Boston.

It stood for more than 2 1/2 hours before being corrected. No problem, damage done.

Sports Illustrated reported the same false narrative, which essentially gutted the theme of this particular story that remains on its web site.

But there's more. Check this social media madness from North of the Border:

"According to Montreal media monitoring and analysis company Influence Communications, the N-word and Subban's name were used in conjunction on 17,000 tweets yesterday, although the majority of them were not negative."

Take your time digesting that one. We'll do the math. A majority means 50 percent plus one. So, anywhere between 8,501 and 17,000 of those 17,000 tweets used Subban's name and the "n-word" in a manner that was not negative. No word on how many of those Tweets were part of the echo chamber created by Bernier's post.

I grew up in Greater Boston during the racially-polarized and still-mostly-segregated 1960-70s. Therefore, I will be labeled a "racist" by many like Arcadio and Patrice for the rest of my life. I hate that fact but I can deal with it. My heart and soul are clean.

Forgive my racist ignorance here, but how can you use P.K. Subban's name and the "n-word" in the same Tweet and it NOT BE NEGATIVE.

Several questions emailed to Influence Communications received no response.

Oh, Canada, WTF?

Self-righteous, needless but necessary disclaimer time: "Racism is bad. So is any use of the 'n-word.' So is any Tweet that uses that term to describe P.K. Subban or any other human being."

Don't take my queue on that.

Listen to Doc Rivers. Doc, the son of racially-mixed parents, knows a little thing or two about being on the receiving end of racism. He grew up in Maywood, Ill., which is located outside of Chicago. The village is about 75 percent black, according to the last census data. It was riddled with race riots during Doc's childhood. As we recounted last week, Doc's home outside San Antonio was torched in 1997 when he was playing for the Spurs. He suspected racist motives at the time but none were proven. Of course, last June, he bailed on the Celtics to coach for Donald Sterling. He also played for Sterling for year starting in 1991.

Last week, between the release of the Sterling tapes and Subban's double-OT goal in Game 1 against Boston, Rivers spoke about some of his players using the "n-word" on on Twitter and elsewhere. Clippers forward Matt Barnes was fined by the NBA this season for doing just that and has vowed to continue doing it.

'They haven't [dealt with racism]," Rivers during a press conference on Monday. "They've seen movies. They've heard from their parents. We had a debate earlier in the year as a group on the 'N-word' and how it should be used. [Assistant coach] Armond Hill, who has been with me forever, shared to them all the reasons why that word is so offensive to him. He said it used to be used against him in public. It's funny. The players got that and they had their say. Listen, this is not anything anybody wants to go through. This is never good for anyone."

Well said, Doc.

Beyond the false narrative that the epithet being discussed here was a "Trending" topic in Boston, were the offensive Tweets themselves.

Far too many people take what is said on Twitter far too seriously, giving it weight it simply does not deserve outside Twitter. Users can forever live in anonymity from everyone. Often times it's a digital version of the nutty guy on the corner who screams at the world on a daily basis until you give him a buck for some booze. Twitter remains self-contained until we choose to make it otherwise.

The Bruins, Boston and everyone who didn't Tweet this crap have nothing to apologize for. People are responsible for what they do, not an entire city, region, team or its fan base.

The most offensive thing I saw on Twitter last week that did not contain "the n-word" was a photo illustration featuring President Obama comforting some of the surviving children of Sandy Hook. Obama was hugging a little girl whose sister was killed at the school, but the poster and those who shared his point of view saw this as definitive proof the shootings never happened and were part of some grand governmental cover-up.

This just in: Craziness. Kicking myself for not following up on that one.

That lunacy, thankfully, is routinely ignored by responsible media types and most balanced human beings. Somehow, however, when an individual who has 94 followers posts a racial epithet that fits a pre-constructed narrative, it becomes everyone's mission to write about it. When that happens, those messages of hate reach an audience hundreds or thousands of time greater than they would have had they just been ignored.

Along the way, they get to smear a few million others.

The most glaring example of this came with a story posted by CBS Detroit. The story was originally entitled: "Boston Strong? Racist Reaction After Subban Scores Game Winner In 2nd OT." The headline was subsequently changed. CBS Detroit did not respond to a Tweet asking why.

There's that "Boston Strong" dig again. Folks in Montreal and Detroit must have a problem with people who rally to help those murdered and maimed by terrorists.

The CBS Detroit story begins with this breathtaking prose, punning off the original headline: "Boston Bruins fans blew up Twitter Thursday night following the team's 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens." This story has been retweeted more than 2,400 times and cited countless times in blogs and columns across the interwebs,

In it, there are 10 redacted Tweets quoted that are purported to be from Bruins' fans using racist epithets against Subban.

We're not going to repeat the Tweets here, most of which have been deleted. But we will offer a breakdown of how many followers each poster had and information on their geographic location and sports preferences based on Twitter's geo-locator tool and/or other information obtained based on their earlier posts. A couple of relative links are provided for reference.

The summary: Not all from Boston. Not all Bruins fans. Not all from 2014.

Tweet No. 1: Posted by a user in Northern New Hampshire who is junior in high school, according to his Facebook page. He had 459 followers on his now deleted account.

Tweet No. 2: Posted by a user from Central Massachusetts who had 348 followers on his now deleted account.

Tweet No. 3: Posted by a user from Norway with 244 followers on his account. Based on his other English-language Tweets, he's got even bigger issues.

Tweet No. 4: Posted by a user from Western Pennsylvania with 284 followers on his now deleted account. His now defunct Twitter handle was even trademarked.

Tweet No. 5: Posted by a user from New Brunswick with 254 fans on May 5 of 2013 who identifies himself as a Maple Leafs' fan on his Facebook page. That's right. Maple Leafs fan in 2013. Can't make it up if I could.

Tweet No. 6: Posted by a user from Connecticut with 94 followers on his still-active account.

Tweet No. 7: Posted by a user from Rhode Island with 178 followers on his still-active account.

Tweet No. 8: Posted by a user from Ontario with 63 followers who admits to hating all of humanity not just the Canadiens, offers no apologies and waved his Toronto Raptors terrible towel on Twitter last month.

Tweet No. 9: Posted by a user from Vermont with 179 users on his now deleted account.

Tweet No. 10: Posted by a user from Greater Boston with 793 followers who is currently in high school. His Tweet has been deleted.

But they all live on, as does everything else ever posted on Twitter.

The CBS Detroit story also cited four Tweets referring to the fact that "the n-word" was a trending topic in Boston.

So, of the 14 Tweets cited by CBS Detroit to indict Bruins fans everywhere, four were rooted in fact errors. Of the 10 directed at Subban, none were acceptable. That's a given. But the issue here isn't morons Tweeting racist hate on Twitter.

The posters of the Tweets above average less than 265 followers apiece and at least two made it clear they are not fans of the Bruins and one wasn't even from Thursday. Most appeared to be under 18, given their other status updates and/or associations.

Do self-righteous media types do more harm than good by magnifying an amplifying those racist messages, giving those miniscule posters a giant-sized microphone? Does a racist Tweet make any noise when it falls on deaf ears? Someone with 63 followers can never hope to reach as many people with their unapologetic message of hate as can a large news organization.

It's time to stop accommodating them. Calling them out emboldens as many as it shames.

This story does have a happy ending, which demonstrates where the great vocal majority of us stand. The Bruins reacted quickly, as did thousands of fans from Boston and elsewhere. Subban handled himself with grace, maturity, honesty and class when asked about this Saturday.

He gets the final word here:

"It's completely unfair for anyone to point the finger at the organization or the fan base. They have passionate fans here, great fan base and since I've been in the league it's been awesome. I've come to Boston many times. My family has come and it's been great," Subban said after Saturday's game. "We get stronger as a league. You see how people come together and it's great. It's not just about me, the NHL has tons of players from different backgrounds, from difference places around the world ... It brings everybody together."

Well, almost everybody.

The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.


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