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Kobe Bryant: The Real Outrage Isn’t That He Said “Fag”



The real outrage is that at a time when anti-gay name-calling and bullying are leading causes of LGBTQ teen suicide, saying “fag” enables and encourages millions to continue harassing our youth.

Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ superstar basketball player, Tuesday night looked straight into a TNT TV camera and called the referee a “fucking fag.” Bryant’s defense? “Frustration.” It took Bryant three attempts and twenty-four hours to reconcile the situation with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and their allies, but if his attempts — at least at first — felt half-hearted, perhaps it’s because they were. While Internet platforms like Twitter and Facebook voraciously took to the controversy, it was plain Bryant’s fans and defenders out-numbered his LGBT-supporting opponents — if not in number, at least in volume.

Ironically, Bryant’s words could not have been more relevant. Just hours earlier the NBA, the Ad Council, and GLSEN had been taping a public service announcement against anti-gay language as part of GLSEN’s “Think Before You Speak” campaign, to be aired during the NBA finals, in an effort to show the league as more “gay-friendly.” And this week marks the fifteenth anniversary of GLSEN’s “Day of Silence,” an effort during which “hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools,” according to GLSEN.

“The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone,” was Kobe Bryant’s initial defense — short and none-too-sweet. And perhaps taking his cue from Senator John Kyl’s lie last week, (Kyl told Congress and America, “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does,” only to be forced to retract it later by saying it was “not intended to be a factual statement,”) Bryant offered, “What I said last night should not be taken literally.” Bryant never explained how one could take the term, “fucking fag,” literally, but added, “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period.”


What I said last night should not be taken literally,” Bryant offered — never explaining how one could take the term, “fucking fag,” literally — adding, “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period.”


U.K. rugby star and straight-ally Ben Cohen had a few words for Kobe Bryant about frustration. The 32-year old gay-friendly icon called Bryant’s outburst “disappointing,” and added, “As a professional athlete and rugby World Cup champion, I understand the heat and passion of competition at the highest levels. But we must all remember that strong bodies must be balanced with strong characters, and work toward that end. Our positions as role models demand it.”

Cohen may have put his finger on one of the key aspects in this now national debate. Some, generally the more conservative of Americans, feel sports figures don’t bear responsibility for their roles as role models. But as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “power must be linked with responsibility, and obliged to defend and justify itself within the framework of the general good.” In other words, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Watch: “Kobe Bryant Calls Ref A “Fucking Fag” On Camera (Video)

Kobe Bryant abdicated that responsibility when he was accused of adulterous rape in 2003, (reportedly, the charges were dropped when the victim refused to testify in public,) and did so again Tuesday night. Bryant had said his words “were not meant to offend anyone.” How could they have been meant to do anything but offend? (No one says, “fucking fag,” without looking to get a strong reaction.)

And they did offend. And worse than offend, they sent a strong message from a strong, national role model, that it’s OK to use anti-gay epithets when the chips are down.

What Bryant may have failed to understand the very moment he opened his mouth, is that like it or not, he is a role model to millions, especially millions of children. And in a split-second, caught on camera, he told those millions — adults and children alike — that it’s OK to denigrate, hate, and verbally abuse, gay men and lesbians, and bisexual and transgender folks.

The story itself took a life of its own, and The New Civil Rights Movement published a total of ten (this will be eleven) play-by-play articles, which drew a great many comments from all sides. But one reader may have said it best. “Kobe Bryant’s behaviour is more damaging to children than Janet Jackson’s boob. People need to realize that Bryant is the kind of role model that bullies look up to.”

Read: “USA Today Asks “Did Kobe’s Punishment Fit The Crime?” America Disappoints

Before Bryant’s “heartfelt,” actual apology, GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios put his concern in more professional terms, properly stating, “Professional sports players need to set a better example for young people who use words like this on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. The LA Lakers have a responsibility to educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”

(To date, the L.A. Lakers organization has not commented, although NBA Commissioner David Stern did fine Bryant $100,000 — a powerful statement of condemnation, given the comparatively steep fine.)

But GLAAD’s and HRC’s messages — if they were even heard by more than a few — were lost on the madding crowd Wednesday. Many Internet comments supported Bryant. Of those, many were of the “gays are too sensitive” variety. Or, “gays need to calm down.” Or, “That term is used very loosely around the country everyday.” Or, “get over it.” Others blatantly supported the “fucking fag” term.


“If a young student was called the N-word every day for weeks or months on end, and after repeated cries for help finally took his own life, how quickly do you think citizens of all races would take to the streets to protest?”


Bryant, a 32-year old shooting guard, ultimately managed to call the president of the nation’s largest LGBT organization, the Human Rights Campaign, to offer what President Joe Solmonese described as a “heartfelt” apology. Solmonese, who in immediate response to Bryant’s Tuesday night slur had called it “a disgrace,” added two important caveats to his homage of Bryant’s apology.

“He told me that it’s never ok to degrade or tease, and that he understands how his words could unfortunately give the wrong impression that this is appropriate conduct,” and, “At the end of a difficult day, I applaud Kobe for coming forward and taking responsibility for his actions.”

These were important because Solmonese rightly knows he has a responsibility to help shape public opinion. And the public needed to know that Kobe Bryant thought he was wrong to call the referee a “fucking fag,” that Kobe Bryant was sorry, remorseful, regretful, and that Kobe Bryant wanted America to know “that it’s never ok to degrade or tease.”

Sadly, the message, trumpeted by HRC, was not equally amplified by Bryant, the Lakers, or the NBA. And sadly, nowhere do we have a direct quote that says, “I’m sorry and I was wrong. Don’t repeat my mistake, folks.”

Solmonese, while awaiting an apology prior to the Wednesday evening telephone conversation, had warned Bryant and the Lakers organization that “America is watching.”

And they were watching– but not so much for an apology as for how far the LGBT community would take this. After all, it was just a word and gays should get over it, right?


Words have power and, in the wake of the anti-gay bullying teen suicides America saw last fall, America needs to remember that. We know that words from role models on the basketball court, and from bullies on the street corner, have power, meaning, and in many cases, can kill.

There are an estimated 5,000 suicides by Americans aged 15-24 every year, and studies show LGBTQ teens are three times as likely to die by suicide than their heterosexual peers. Simple math tells us then that over 100 LGBTQ 15-24 year olds die by suicide every month.

Yet America was shocked in September 2010 when the media reported five teens died by suicide due to anti-gay bullying. At The New Civil Rights Movement we were able to uncover at least ten, knowing that was only ten percent of the story.

Read: “September’s Anti-Gay Bullying Suicides – There Were A Lot More Than 5

“If a young student was called the N-word every day for weeks or months on end, and after repeated cries for help finally took his own life, how quickly do you think citizens of all races would take to the streets to protest?,” asked Keli Goff, an African-American author, in October 2010, just after the rash of September anti-gay bullying suicides. Goff continued, asking, “Or better yet, how quickly would Al Sharpton and Co. demand accountability from the school and elected officials under the threat of casting the kind of media spotlight that people like Don Imus have nightmares about?”

“Which makes me think that the kids doing the bullying are not really the ones at fault,” she writes. “They are simply taking their cues from adults. And the message they are receiving is that today in 2010 it may not be okay to call someone the N-word on the playground, but it is okay to call someone the F-word.”

So what if Kobe Bryant’s “penalty” was not a $100,000 fine, but 100 hours spent counseling at-risk LGBTQ teens? Talk about a win-win-win. A win for LGBTQ teens, a win for Bryant, and a win for America, whose out-of-control media superstars would think twice before using anti-gay slurs publicly.

But America, by and large, has a very short-term memory and is not thinking about teen suicides. America is thinking that the LGBT community is too sensitive. America is thinking that, regardless of age, we should just roll with the punches. America is thinking Bryant’s “punishment,” a fine that amounts to about zero-point-zero-zero-two percent of his annual income, was too harsh.


“The problem we have now is because of the way we don’t address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they’re like a woman or worse, that they’re gay,” says John Amaechi, the first gay NBA star to come out.


How do we know? Ask your neighbors. Or, look at this USA Today online poll that as of this writing says that 53% of Americans think “a heartfelt apology should have been enough.” In other words, Kobe got the shaft. (Note the author’s phrase, “should have been enough,” as in, “How much more do you people want?”)

So, what explains this? Why does America think it’s OK to use hate speech and anti-gay slurs? In a word, prejudice. Dumb, unfounded, un-scientific, baseless prejudice. And it’s prejudice promulgated by some religious institutions, and by some “non-profit” anti-gay groups and anti-gay hate groups, like the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family Association, and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

America, despite our slow but forward-moving embrace of same-sex marriage, despite our overwhelming support of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, still hasn’t had enough direct, personal experience with LGBT people.

I reached out to Clinton W. Anderson, PhD, the Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns Office, at the American Psychological Association. “Although many people have negative feelings and hostile attitudes toward homosexuality, no scientific research has ever found differences between lesbian, gay, or bisexual people and straight people that justify such prejudices,” Dr. Anderson told me, via email. He adds, “In fact, as straight people come to know gay people better, their prejudices decrease, which is exactly opposite of what would happen if the prejudices had some factual basis.”

Anderson says, “Similarly to members of other minority groups who are the targets of prejudice, many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people experience prejudicial acts, such as the use of epithets. Having to cope with such acts is a real psychological burden.” Quoting a CDC study, Anderson says this affects adversely LGBT students as well, noting, “lesbian, gay, and bisexual students in schools reported missing school due to fear, being threatened by other students, and having their property damaged at school more than heterosexual students did.”

Dr. Anderson says over time, “as straight people come to know gay people better, their prejudices decrease.” A great example of this is the defection last week of the National Organization for Marriage’s online and grassroots strategist, Louis Marinelli, who said he sees himself now as “a supporter of civil marriage equality,” after five years of working against the LGBT community, and says, “I agree that what the gay community are fighting for are their civil rights.”

Kobe Bryant merely said what was at the forefront of his mind when it searched for the meanest slur it could find in a moment of anger and “frustration.” And Kobe Bryant merely said what many Americans say every day, whether or not the subject of their frustration is a gay man, a lesbian, or a bisexual or transgender person — or not. “Fag,” or “faggot” is one of those words some people use to make themselves feel better, because portraying someone else as a second-class citizen, as “less-than,” makes some people feel better, and feel better about themselves.

The problem with what Kobe Bryant said is not so much that he said it, it’s that so many Americans say it every day, do not understand the damage words like that can cause, and do not see anything wrong with it.

“The problem we have now is because of the way we don’t address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they’re like a woman or worse, that they’re gay,” says John Amaechi, the first gay NBA star to come out, in an interview with USA Today Thursday.

Amaechi, an African-American, is now a psychologist who works with Fortune 250 companies. He adds, “We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I’ve been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We’ve got to mirror that progress.”

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‘I Feel a Little Bit Dumber for What You Say’: The Nine Worst Moments of the GOP Presidential Debate



The second Republican presidential debate was mired in in-fighting and personal attacks by the candidates,  a vow to wage physical war against Mexico, hate against LGBTQ people, an insistence the U.S. Constitution doesn’t actually mean what the words on the page say, and a fight over curtains.

Here are nine of the worst moments from Wednesday night’s debate.

The debate itself got off to a rough start right from the beginning.

Multiple times candidate cross-talk made it impossible for anyone to make a point, like this moment when nearly half the candidates talked over each other during a nearly two minute segment as the moderators struggled to take control.

READ MORE: ‘I Don’t Think So’: As GOP Debate Kicks Off Trump Teases Out the Chances of Any Candidate Becoming His Running Mate

Vivek Ramasway got into a heated argument with Nikki Haley, leading the former Trump UN Ambassador to tell him, “Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

Ramaswamy launched an attack on transgender children.

Moments after Ramaswamy attacked transgender children, so did Mike Pence, calling supporting transgender children’s rights “crazy.”

He promised “a federal ban on transgender chemical or surgical surgery anywhere in the country,” and said: “We’ve got to protect our kids from this radical gender ideology agenda.”

Former New Jersey Governor Cris Christie described the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, who has dedicated her life to teaching, as the person President Biden is “sleeping with.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, as CNN’s Manu Raju noted were “one-time allies,” after “Haley appointed Scott to his Senate seat,” until they started “going at it at [the] debate.”

“Talk about someone who has never seen a federal dollar she doesn’t like,” Scott charged. “Bring it, Tim,” Haley replied before they got into a fight about curtains.

Senator Scott declared, “Black families survived slavery, we survived poll taxes and literacy tests, we survived discrimination being woven into the laws of our country. What was hard to survive was [President] Johnson’s Great Society, where they decided to take the Black father out of the household to get a check in the mail.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, currently leading over everyone on stage, said practically nothing for the first 15 minutes. He may have said the least of all the candidates on stage Wednesday night. But he denounced Donald Trump for being “missing in action.”

Watch all the videos above or at this link.




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‘I Don’t Think So’: As GOP Debate Kicks Off Trump Teases Out the Chances of Any Candidate Becoming His Running Mate



Donald Trump, again refusing to participate in a GOP debate, teased out the fate of every candidate on stage Wednesday night: he will choose none of them as his vice presidential running mate.

The ex-president who is facing 91 felony charges in four criminal cases across three jurisdictions and is now also facing the dissolution of his business empire, brought up the running mate question around the same time the debate on Fox News was kicking off.

“It’s all over television, this speech,” Trump falsely claimed, referring to his live remarks at a non-union shop one day after President Joe Biden stood on the picket line with UAW workers.

READ MORE: ‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden

“You know, we’re competing with the job candidates,” Trump said, mocking his fellow Republican presidential candidates after he scheduled an event opposite the debate he refused to attend.

“They’re all running for a job,” he continued, as the audience began to boo.

“They want to be in the, they’ll do anything,” he continued. “Secretary of something.”

“They even say VP, I don’t know,” Trump said. “Does anybody see any VP in the group? I don’t think so.”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Careening’ Toward ‘Risk of Political Violence’: Experts Sound Alarm After Trump Floats Executing His Former General


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‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden



Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) became defensive and accusatory after repeatedly being unable to answer a reporter’s questions in a press conference Wednesday, held to announce what House Republicans claim is “evidence” against President Joe Biden.

A shortened version of the video posted by the news organization Heartland Signal went viral, garnering nearly one million views in under three hours on the social media platform X.

“Mr. Chairman, question about the timing of all of this,” began an NBC News reporter identified by Mediaite as Ryan Nobles. “You’re talking about a two-tiered system of justice. If I’m not mistaken, on August 7, 2020 Bill Barr was the attorney general and Donald Trump was the president, so explain to me where the two-tiered system of justice comes into play. And then the WhatsApp message you have, I believe, is dated June 6, 2017. Joe Biden is not vice president or even a candidate for president at that time. So where is the direct connection to some sort of criminal malfeasance within these two pieces of evidence?”

RELATED: ‘Everybody Has Seen That’: Fox News Host Smacks Down Republican Pushing Biden ‘Burismo’ Video People ‘Not Talking About’

Chairman Smith could not only not answer any part of those questions, he appeared to forget a portion of them.

“Well, I think the facts speak for themselves,” Smith replied. “There’s over 700 pages of examples of, where people should be very concerned, when you’re talking about um, ah, – what was your first question?”

Smith went on to say, “It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House,” after being reminded them President at that time was Donald Trump. “We need to make sure that the Department of Justice works for all people and doesn’t treat those who are politically connected or wealthy much differently. And unfortunately, we have several examples that came forward by the two IRS whistleblowers, that proves that people are treated differently because they’re politically connected.”

“Are you suggesting that Joe Biden being the president now, is unfairly treating Donald Trump in his indictment?” Nobles asked.

Again, Smith did not answer the question.

“What I’m talking about is the 700 pages that we have before us, which is all the information that came from the IRS whistleblowers, and that’s what we’re releasing right now,” Smith replied, again not answering Nobles’ question. “And I’ll tell you, I would encourage everyone in this room to look at those 700 pages. If you think it’s okay, with what’s in it, then we live on two different planets.”

RELATED: ‘You F**ked Me – I Know It Was You’: Top House Republican ‘Exploded’ at McCarthy After Losing Chairmanship

“Can you explain the timing of the August 6 WhatsApp message? Why is that evidence of some wrongdoing?” Nobles continued..

“I’m not an expert on the timeline,” Smith admitted, before pivoting to say, “I would love to have President Biden and his family to tell us about all the timelines, because it’s really, really unfortunate that we see so many meetings and so many phone calls that involved around official activity that the Vice President has been participating in, and then big sums of money follows later –”

“But he’s not the president or the vice president at that time. Where, where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president,” Nobles pointed out.

“He was a candidate – ” Smith claimed.

“On August 6 –” Nobles began before Smith interrupted him.

“So apparently apparent – what source are you with?” Chairman Smith asked Noble.

“I’m with NBC,” the reporter replied.

“So apparently, you’ll never believe us,” Smith charged.

“I’m asking you a very direct question,” Nobles explained. “You presented a piece of evidence that you say came on August 6, 2017, that demonstrates that Joe Biden was using political influence to help his son. He wasn’t a political figure at that time. The first WhatsApp message you put up, where yo talk about the brand,” Nobles explained. “I’m completely open minded about this. I’m asking you specifically, how does that demonstrate that there was some sort of political influence being put over him, if at that time, he is not a political – he’s not an elected official?”

“I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item,” Chairman Smith said defensively.

READ MORE: ‘Jaw Dropping’: Democratic Senator Slams Tuberville’s ‘Open’ Talk About ‘White Supremacy’

“You presented it!” Nobles acclaimed. “It was the first thing that you brought up.”

“So apparently, you don’t agree with that. So report that you disagree with it. I’ll take the next question. Yes?” Smith said, refusing to answer any of Nobles’ questions.

Watch below or at this link.


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