Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thought Police II- America's Version

With Chief Enforcement Officer, Rev. Al Sharpton who's got getting around the constitutional right to free speech down to a veritable science. Unable to bring about criminal consequences to the likes of Don Imus he took the next best route, attacking the economic foundation of Imus's career as he heaped vitriol and victimology with such a tenacious fury that CBS sponsors were quick to flee and the Imus microphone soon grew silent as CBS canceled his program.

The good Reverend's latest endeavor involves a venue that is well known for it's edgy and often offensive commentary... The Golf Channel. Specifically, commentator (and renowned screaming racist) Kelly Tilghman whose momentary lapse into candor with fellow commentator Nick Faldo elicited this exchange:


Disclaimer regarding the snarky bit of editing at the end: This was the only vid available at the time of post.

Clearly an incredibly stupid comment but does anyone really believe that Kelly Tilghman decided to use her on-air time as a commentator to take a stab at some blatant racism? Not Tiger Woods. This via his agent:

"This story is a non-issue. Tiger and Kelly are friends and Tiger has a great deal of respect for Kelly. Regardless of the choice of words used we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments. This story is a non-issue in our eyes. Case closed."

Despite the sane recognition by Tiger Woods that Tilghman's comments were an on air gaff, Al Sharpton took up the scent of blood and pounced. Tonight on CNN (no web related articles yet) Al promised to go after this "violation of civil liberties" (his words) with great fervor demanding the offender (without regard to her intentions) be fired for using the word "lynch" in a public broadcast. Or else. No doubt the Golf Channel understands very well what that "or else" entails: Lost revenue as sponsors flee the Sharpton onslaught lest they too inherit the leprous charge of rascism.

25 comments:

Ortho said...

You're right Subadei, Tillman uttered an "incredibly stupid comment." Her comment is stupid because it shows a complete ignorance of U.S. history. Since the late-nineteenth century, well over 4,000 black people have been lynched by white mobs in the U.S.

I find your characterization of Tillman's statement as a "momentary lapse into candor" interesting. Do you define candor as The Oxford English Dictionary does ("Freedom from reserve in one's statements; openness, frankness, ingenuousness, outspokenness.")? If so, then you're implying that Tillman, by suggesting Tiger's competitors "should lynch him in a back alley," dropped her on-screen persona to show her real, racist self.

subadei said...

No Ortho, I define candor in this instance as a moment of candid discourse between two commentators.

Are you insinuating that Tilghman is, indeed, a racist? That she'd rejoice at the sight of her personal friend swinging in a back alley?

Ortho said...

No Subadei, I'm not insinuating that Tilghman is a racist. I am implying that your use of the words "candor" and now "candid" insinuate she is a racist.

To describe her conversation with Faldo as "a momentary lapse into candor" or "candid," suggests it is not racist to assert that a black athlete's mostly white competitors "should lynch him in a back alley," when off camera. Your words suggest that what makes her comment "incredibly stupid," is her saying it on air. You appear to imply that it's the context in which she spoke, not the content of her comment that is the problem. If she had said the same thing to Faldo in a bar over a couple of beers, it would have been normal, perfectly acceptable conversation between two white people.

Tilghman will apologize for her "candid," "momentary lapse into candor." After her apology, she will go to rehab. But, don't worry, she will be back in time for The Masters, "a tradition unlike any other [except, for maybe, a good old fashion lynching]."

Adrian said...

I wonder if this would have been a big deal if she were describing a gay golfer, with the lynching of gay people like Matthew Shepard, etc.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Ortho,
Check this out.....
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/shipp/lynchingsstate.html

While at least 3,500 black victims were lynched, around 1,300 whites were lynched during the same time period. African Americans, while horribly over-represented in these statistics, still don't own the word "lynch".
The currently fashionable Calls For Smelling Salts every time someone says the words "Lynch" or "Noose" are insane, and do nothing to break down barriers. Woods and Tillman hang out together, ferChrist'ssake. Think about it, especially if you're from the deep south. Black man, white woman, and they're friends.

But Al Sharpton, who has made a career as a race-baiting shakedown artist isn't happy with that.

The sooner Obama sweeps Sharpton into total irrelevance, the better.

The lynching era was a horrible time to be black. And for a few people, it wasn't that easy being white.

Adrian said...

White Sepulchre - I doubt the white victims were lynched for the crime of being white. For black victims, their race was frequently (typically?) their only crime.

Ortho said...

White Sepulchre, thank you for the link to lynching statistics; they're tantalizing. The base number of 4,743 is probably a little low (Many historians agree that most lynchings went unreported. For an example see Michael J. Pfeifer's Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947). But 4,743 is the number we can all work with. According to the website you linked, 72.65% of those lynched were black people and 27.35% were white people.

Historians estimate that the majority of white people who were lynched in the South were lynched for exposing cracks in an imagined community of whiteness--helping black people, protesting lynching, etc. Lynchings of white people in the west was a different story. In the west, most white people were lynched as punishment for the theft of property--cattle, horses, etc.

I think you will be hard pressed to deny that many Southern white communities used lynching as a terror tactic in hope of preserving racial superiority and solidarity, as well as to intimidate and curtail the freedoms of black people.

Nonetheless, given the history of the U.S., it's rather naive to suggest that the term "lynch" does not carry racial overtones.

Adrian, your question is interesting. I don't think it would be a big deal if a media personality suggested that the competitors of a gay golfer "should lynch him." Unfortunately, it still is (mostly) socially acceptable, even after the gains of the gay rights movement, to utter slurs and jokes that vilify gay people.

Dan tdaxp said...

How many Hispanics were lynched?

Ortho said...

Dan Tdaxp, you ask a good question. We can piggy-back another question on top of it: How many Amerindians and Asians were lynched?

To answer these questions with concrete numbers is difficult. The statistics on lynchings are notoriously shoddy. Many historians believe that most cases of lynching in America went unreported.

However, to begin to answer questions about the lynching of ethnic groups in America (and these 3 ethnic groups in particular) we can turn to Ken Gonzales-Day's Lynching in the West: 1850-1935. According to Gonzales-Day, all lynching cases, no matter the ethnicity, race, or national origin of the victim, functioned as spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people, solidarity within the white community, and to instill terror and fear within the minds of non-white people.

In addition, I think if we could find concrete lynching statistics for the numbers of Amerindians, Asians, and Hispanics victims, the statistics Whited Sepulchre provided would look radically different. The number of white people lynched would appear minuscule compared to the number of Amerindians, Asians, Hispanics, and black people lynched by white terrorists.

Given the history of race in the U.S., and the systematic use of "lynching" as a terror tactic by white people, it's preposterous to suggest that the term "lynch" does not carry racial overtones.

Dan tdaxp said...

"However, to begin to answer questions about the lynching of ethnic groups in America (and these 3 ethnic groups in particular) we can turn to Ken Gonzales-Day's Lynching in the West: 1850-1935. According to Gonzales-Day, all lynching cases, no matter the ethnicity, race, or national origin of the victim, functioned as spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people, solidarity within the white community, and to instill terror and fear within the minds of non-white people."

How does Gonzales-Day support such a universalist claim?

How could such a universalist claim to be wrong?

It would seem simpler to suppose that lynchings are the result of lack of police protection, where community-based security-providers self-organize.

Adrian said...

Except that frequently the police were the ones doing the lynching...

subadei said...

A quick update: Tilghman has been suspended for two weeks for her on air gaff.

That aside,

Ortho, my use of the term candor applies to the conversational quality entailed in the exchange between the two sports casters.

"To describe her conversation with Faldo as "a momentary lapse into candor" or "candid," suggests it is not racist to assert that a black athlete's mostly white competitors "should lynch him in a back alley," when off camera."

She apparently either forgot or hadn't realized the scrutiny that can be applied to her words and never gave a thought to the possible racially charged use of "lynch." In this respect, she spoke candidly.

That bit of semantics aside do you have any opinion regarding Al Sharpton?

Ortho said...

Dan Txap, if you to examine the evidence Gonzales-Day uses to support his conclusions I recommend picking up his book from the library and checking its footnotes.

Dan Txap writes:
It would seem simpler to suppose that lynchings are the result of lack of police protection, where community-based security-providers self-organize.

This explanation is also the explanation white "vigilantes" used to justify lynching. However (sticking with Gonzales-Day's text), by the 1850s in the American West and California in particular, there were functioning legal systems in place. Oftentimes, as Adrian suggests, the "law"--police officers, sheriffs, judges--condoned the actions of a lynch mob.

Subadei, I think we all saw Tilghman's suspension coming.

I don't think much of Al Sharpton. He should spend all of his time addressing structural and economic problems that impact the lives of many black people in America's inner-cities, and not the "stupid comments" of TV personalities.

Dan tdaxp said...

"This explanation is also the explanation white "vigilantes" used to justify lynching"

That might be. So what?

"However (sticking with Gonzales-Day's text), by the 1850s in the American West and California in particular, there were functioning legal systems in place."

Functioning is a matter of degrees. Cultures of honor and violence among both southern whites and blacks are a result in part of the historical lack of reliable police protection in the South, especially if one was not landed nor a professional.

"Oftentimes, as Adrian suggests, the "law"--police officers, sheriffs, judges--condoned the actions of a lynch mob. "

Doubtless. As I was saying, a functional legal system is a matter of degrees.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Adrian, Ortho,
Thanks for the feedback. Let me offer two examples from WAY up in the family tree....My grandfather had two uncles in rural Arkansas. One was murdered by a pair of thugs. The two thugs were promptly lynched. All involved were white.
Another uncle got into a dispute with a mill owner (something about using the guy's mill to grind some corn without permission.) The owner attacked my great-great uncle, who killed the guy (according to OUR side of the story) in self defense. My ancestor had to leave Arkansas for Texas before getting arrested. Southern jails weren't easy to break out of, but were apparently easy for mobs to break into. Once again, it was a white-on-white threat of violence.
Lynching, in my opinion, was a phenomenom more linked with lawlessness, not necessarily with racism. And anyone belonging to a minority group is more likely to be a victim of lawlessness.

Ortho said...

Brief addition to this story:

One day after PGA Tour executives threatened to pull their advertising because of a racially insensitive cover graphic of a noose, Golfweek magazine has decided to fire its editor and vice president, Dave Seanor.

http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1704872,00.html

subadei said...

I wonder if this was an act of defiance?

Ortho said...

I know this thread is finished, but I found a quote I would like to immortalize. The quote was said on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Benjamin Tillman (1847-1918), a Senator from South Carolina.

“We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be the equal of the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.” (You can read Tillman's full speech here: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/55/)

I know one quote, from one government official, advocating the lynching of black men, does not say much. However, it does suggest that lynching was an integral, functioning part of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century legal system in the U.S. South.

By the way, a statue of Tillman that stands on the S.C. State House lawn, is now embroiled in controversy. (http://www.thestate.com/154/story/287530.html and http://www.thestate.com/local/story/290807.html )

Dan tdaxp said...

Ortho,

The evidence you present is trivial.

You've established that the white overclass of South Carolina would use violence to prevent a loss of political power from an opposition they seem as illegitimate.

By your logic, if he had said "shoot" instead of "lynch," all gun violence "no matter the ethnicity, race, or national origin of the victim, functioned as spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people"!

Ortho said...

Dan Tdxap writes,
By your logic, if he had said "shoot" instead of "lynch," all gun violence "no matter the ethnicity, race, or national origin of the victim, functioned as spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people"!

No, Dan, that would be, "By your logic."

Dan Tdxap writes,
The evidence you [Ortho] present is trivial.

Indeed, it may be. I originally wrote,
I know one quote, from one government official, advocating the lynching of black men, does not say much.

Nevertheless, the fact that it was said by a U.S. Senator, from a Southern State, suggests "lynching" was an accepted, integral part of a functioning late-19th- and early-20th-century Southern legal system that benefited white people. Just as Jim Crow laws that stripped black people of the social, economic, and political gains that they made during Reconstruction, were an integral part of the same functioning Southern legal system that benefited white people.

To argue that lynching was not an integral part of Southern legal systems during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century shows, at worst, an ignorance of U.S. history, and, at best, the inability to understand that "a functioning legal system" is an historical, not ahistorical concept.

Dan tdaxp said...

Between not getting my handle right (twice) and not defending the earlier contention that "all lynching, no matter the ethnicity, race, or national origin of the victim, functioned as spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people" -- there's not much to reply to!

Ortho said...

Dan Tdaxp, I apologize for misspelling your "handle," not once, but twice. My fault, I hope you harbor no ill feelings.

I'm not sure what you're asking for. Are you asking me to provide evidence that lynching was a terror tactic used by white Americans against mostly non-white people (or lower-class whites who transgressed the boundaries of whiteness) during the late-19th and early-20th centuries? Are you asking me to prove that lynching was a racist instrument of justice in Southern and Western U.S. communities during this time period? Are you asking me to prove that lynching spectacles perpetrated by white mobs, reported by the press and supported by government officialsm reinforced boundaries of whiteness and were an integral part of functioning legal systems?

If you read one text on the history of lynching in the U.S. the answers to these questions will be self-evident. Read the two texts I have suggested in this thread and ye shall find the evidence ye seek.

Dan tdaxp said...

Ortho,

I'm asking you to support the assertion that you approved of,

all lynching cases, no matter the ethnicity, race, or national origin of the victim, functioned as spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people, solidarity within the white community, and to instill terror and fear within the minds of non-white people.

You made a univeralist argument, which is hard to support. Perhaps you wish to retract it?

You need to demonstrate that there was not one lynching of anyone of any ethnicity, race, or national origin, that was not designed to spectacles designed to promote the superiority of white people, solidarity within the white community, and to instill terror and fear within the minds of non-white people.

The Red Son said...

Video link broken, FYI.

subadei said...

Thank you, RS. I suspect the Golf Channel leaned a bit on youtube and had it removed. I'll search about for another.