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Out of line

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff June 19, 2008 08:01 AM

I had less of a problem with the context of the comment than I did the actual wording.

It just didn’t make any sense.

Let’s try, “Rooting for the Celtics is like chewing gum while standing on one leg and petting a sleeping cow.” Even that statement is a little more comprehendible.

Regardless, ESPN suspended columnist Jemele Hill yesterday for a comment over the weekend that equated rooting for the Celtics with saying that Hitler was a victim and hoping Gorbachev would beat Reagan to the button. OK.

Last night, on her personal blog, Hill responded to the suspension, saying, “Times like these you know who has your back and who doesn’t.” Hill writes that everything regarding the matter will be addressed at a later time, but she does respond to some of the criticism she has received, presumably from Celtics fans:

“If you’re going to call me a racist and you want your point to stick, it kinda levels the argument when you follow it up by calling me the n-word. Just a little bit.”

Gee, you think?

What Hill wrote was dumb – in that it, again, didn’t make much sense – but comments like the ones she’s claiming to receive should only fuel any fire she has burning against the Celtics and their fans. No matter what, she certainly doesn’t deserve to endure those sorts of words.

Certainly there are lowlifes in every fan base (ask any number of repairing North Station-area businesses about that after the other night), but it seems a few particular Celtics fans took this prime opportunity to make their own disgusting view of race a priority. And while WBCN may think it's doing Boston a world of good by standing up for the city and Don Imus in demanding that she be fired, read some of the comments on Hill's blog and you tell me how good their listeners are making Celtics fans look. Utterly repulsive.

If she does indeed decide to address the situation at a later time, the fear is that after hearing from a select few despicable among the general Celtics-loving public, she’ll have ammo on hand to actually make her comments make some semblance of sense.

19 comments so far...
  1. This is a sheer publicity grab by her. One cannot invoke Hitler in print and expect no reaction. And frankly, I'd like to see offensive responses she got lest she be allowed to "Barnicle" the situation and garner sympathy.

    Most ironic is that her piece talks about Boston and race. Detroit is a place where people simply abandoned the city because they were so afraid of other races. Seems to me that is supremely racist.

    Posted by ML June 19, 08 08:25 AM
  1. My concern here is that this article by Ms. Hill went through an editor, who did not send the piece back or eliminate the idiotic statement, which as noted is not just ill-conceived, but illogical. Is the editor who allowed this to go into print held accountable at all? The ombudsman? Am I foolish to believe that there is a filter between the writer and the final edition. That is where the ball seems to have been proverbially dropped.

    Posted by Glenn from Manchester June 19, 08 09:32 AM
  1. her own stupidity got her in this mess. whatever she gets she deserves. shes ignorant and i think her being a woman and of color she thought she had the right to get away with more. na na na na na na na na hey hey goodbye

    Posted by Alex June 19, 08 09:53 AM
  1. It is absolutely RIDICULOUS to point at the comments she's received from a few disgrunted and moronic racists and somehow absolve or condone what she said in her column. Unlike the rubes and mutants who write in the hate-filled garbage she claims to be getting - she is actually getting PAID by ESPN to continually spew her racist and poorly-written tirades for their website. I'm not sure if anyone even bothers to read most of what she writes, but it's always agenda-laden and it nearly always carries harsh racial undertones bordering on racism.

    I understand wanting to defend a fellow columnist Eric, and I respect your intentions, but in my humble opinion, this Jamele Hill only continues to keep her job because ESPN is afraid of a lawsuit from her. Either that or she's blackmailing somebody, because she has absolutely ZERO talent. I cannot believe that this is the best that ESPN could get. Read more of her material - a lot of it is sickening, race-baiting crap. We've come too far as a society to allow this garbage to continue to flourish.

    Posted by J.P. June 19, 08 10:45 AM
  1. If you imagine a middle ages white journalist making the same comments, we would have another Imus situation on our hands, with people calling for the imaginary individuals head.

    What she said was inane, and she absolutely deserves to be sacked, if that is what happened to Imus for a somewhat similar comment

    Posted by cormac June 19, 08 10:45 AM
  1. Do people really not understand that the Celts are the Yankees of the NBA?
    And, given that, if A Boston Sports Fan don't get where Ms. Hill is coming from.... then you are either a poseur or someone who has forgotten 1978, 2003, etc etc etc.

    So lay off, she was representing her team using emotional language. Got way carried away, trode on some hot buttons. But that's it.

    And I say this as a LONG time white (and jewish) celtics fan.

    Posted by Daniel Hellerstein June 19, 08 12:39 PM
  1. Jemele Hill has made a living out of driving up page views to her poorly-written and ill-conceived columns by making inflammatory comments. I've learned to simply ignore her and refuse to even click on the link to her work provided by Wilbur here.

    Posted by J-Bone June 19, 08 12:41 PM
  1. I don't want to excuse or condone what these so-called fans posted to her blog. However, I think that so-called fans of other teams would have posted similar comments had she smeared (not too strong a word) them the way that she smeared Celtics fans. Also, if she thinks that what these people posted reflects the feelings of more than a tiny minority of Celtics nation, then she is either: (a) an idiot; (b) delusional; or (c) grasping at straws to justify her ill-conceived comments. And, for the record, I thought that her comments, while in poor taste, were clearly hyperbole and therefore, were less offensive than many of Gregg Easterbrook's rantings over the past year, which combined offensive remarks, that despite his protestations to the contrary, were not intended as satire, with lies. So I'm not sure why she was supended and he wasn't

    Posted by The Best Revenge is No. 17 June 19, 08 01:22 PM
  1. If she didn't pop off about Imus, then maybe I wouldn't be offended by her. I don't do double standards. She should be fired and no, I don't accept her apology.

    I hope Jemele enjoyed seeing the parade clips on TV today.

    Posted by KF June 19, 08 02:20 PM
  1. I think its unfair to say it is the listeners of Toucher & Rich that are leaving these comments and making Boston fans look bad. Jamele HIll has repeatedly bashed Boston, as a team and as a city, for a while now. Every one of her articles on ESPN.com constantly have thousands of comments posted afterwards, most of them railing against her ways of trying to incite racial tension.

    Toucher & Rich are pointing out her hypocrisy, and instead of addressing that, she's taking the idiotic and racist comments of a few readers, who I can GUARANTEE are not all from Boston, and using that to defend herself. THAT is sad and rather pathetic.

    Anyone who is above racism should be above using it as a ploy to defend thyself. Jamele Hill clearly is not one of those people.

    Posted by Krystyn June 19, 08 02:40 PM
  1. Best Revenge, I'm with you.

    While I understand that Hitler is a nasty buzzword that stirs up a lot of emotions in people (and rightfully so), it's clear that Hill was trying to be funny when she invoked his name. She failed, obviously, but I didn't take the line seriously at all.

    Gregg Easterbrook, on the other hand, is either completely insane or he's 100% serious with his constant, irrational and hateful bashing of Belichick and the Pats, yet the true Anti-Semite of espn.com lingers on to poison their pages with his factless filth.

    Hill made a mistake, and yes, she's a bit of a hypocrite for calling out Imus over his poor choice of words and his own bad attempt at humor. But really, this was, in the end, a bad attempt at humor on her part too, and it simply failed.

    Posted by Tony June 19, 08 02:43 PM
  1. I always have the thought that some of the moronic comments/phone calls to sports media are by fans of the other teams trying to make the first fanbase look bad.

    But then again, I see conspiracies in things.

    Posted by Bern June 19, 08 02:44 PM
  1. The use of the name Hitler doesn't offend me. Heck, they had a show called HOGAN'S HEROES on network TV fourty years ago, making light of Nazis. It's her illogic in the use of the name Hitler...what was her point?

    As for race baiting, is she aware that seeminlgy half her Lakers team is compromised of white Europeans? Is she aware that only Brian Scalabrine is white on the Celtics roster? That they have a BLACK coach? That, for crying out loud, the late Red Auerbach, who literally CREATED the Celtics as a Winning Brand, was the FIRST coach to field an all black starting lineup, back in the 60's? The FIRST, folks.

    The woman shouldn't be fired. But, she IS a moron. Morons are not unique to any one particular race or religion. They are an equal opportunity affliction.

    Posted by Matt Talvi June 19, 08 04:01 PM
  1. Jemele Hill is like many people today. They look to get offended at anyone else's comments but don't belive they should be held to the same standard.

    Can you imagine her reaction if someone made a similar comment about Pistons fans? She would be all up-in-arms about the comment and demand the person who made the comment be fired.

    Jemele, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. You should be fired for your hateful and racist comments. You're a hypocrite if you think otherwise.

    Posted by The Truth June 19, 08 05:10 PM
  1. what she said was bad, but why wasn't bill simmons (who i actually like a lot) ever called out for when he said the phrase "jd drew has killed more rallies than the national guard" in one of his baseball columns last year? several of us, all veterans, wrote to him and espn and didn't even receive a token response, yet this woman gets vilified immediately for her comments? ok, what simmons said wasn't racist, but it was cheap and unnecessary and mean-spirited at a time when so many guardsmen and women are dying overseas. but, i guess if you're a more popular writer, you can say outrageous, insulting, immature things and be forgiven... kind of like a star athlete. sorry, but espn seems to have a double standard when it comes to their "ethics". stioapoapologypologforismmoncomment

    Posted by jonny June 20, 08 12:43 AM
  1. Not sure I believe Ms. Hill about the comments she's allegedly received from Boston fans. This type of response is about the only thing that would allow her to go on the offensive, claim the moral high ground and gain any support or sympathy. The people who were offended by her comments are not those likely to be ignorant enough to use racial epithets. No sympathy or support whatsoever from this corner.

    Posted by Kilroy June 20, 08 07:42 AM
  1. Eric, Wake up !!!!! She 's not gonna give you any so stop suckin up to her. She wants to slam the Celts and there fans, fight fire with fire. Give it back to her ten fold !!!

    Posted by yaripadees June 20, 08 08:48 AM
  1. Using your logic, I wonder why Imus did not come out with all of the "whitey" and "racist" comments he undoubtedly received following his comments. The fact that Ms. Hill has already come out of the blocks using these replies by some fans and Imus kept the replies I'm sure he received to himself speaks volumes of how far the black community still needs to travel to achieve accountability. By your own admission, Imus posting those comments from your bretheren for the world to see would have "actually made Imus' comments make some semblance of sense". Sad commentary and a distorted view indded. The sooner you lose the double standard in your views and words, the sooner you will start to lose the label racist.

    Posted by Mikeyyy June 20, 08 01:35 PM
  1. As a black man who has been a Celtic fan since my early days (60's) growing up in Connecticut I thought I heard it all. Allow me to put this in perspective, it seems in the black community there is this perception about racism in Boston which is then carried over to the sports team. At the beginning of the NBA Finals I do believe every black sports analysts (Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Michael Wilborn, Jamal Mashburn, etc.) all picked the Lakers. While Tim Legler and Jon Barry (white hoop analysts) picked Boston. This is residual effects of blacks being conditioned to hate Boston and it filtered down to former professionals athletes (now posing as analysts) who have data at their fingertips to show that Boston was a much stronger team than the Lakers. I now live in LA and it funny how natives here consider Boston a racist city and majority have never been there. When you take in consideration the 2 race riots that LA has had one has to wonder what does it take to be a racist city. Ms. Hill is part of that black sentiment ...don't blame her its part of her culture.

    Posted by Jeffrey Walker June 20, 08 10:58 PM
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