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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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Trump Desperate to Keep Any Possible Criminal Evidence From Supreme Court: Legal Expert



Donald Trump’s decision to allow one of his lawyers to speak before a grand jury on Friday morning, instead of appealing all the way to the Supreme Court, may have been made out of fear of what the justices on the nation’s highest court might see if they reviewed the case.

According to MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin, under normal circumstances, the former president would have dragged out a legal fight over attorney-client privilege that would have kept attorney Evan Corcoran from testifying under oath about Trump’s possession of government documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort that led to the FBI showing up with a warrant.

As Rubin notes, the fact that Trump let Corcoran testify over three hours raised eyebrows.

“For one, yes, it is indeed unusual, if not unheard of, for a lawyer to be litigating against a party one day and then testifying under court-ordered examination by that same party the next one,” she wrote before suggesting Trump and his legal team were looking at the long game when he might need the predominantly conservative Supreme Court to lend him a helping hand.

RELATED: Revealed: Emails show how Trump lawyers drove Michael Cohen to turn on the president

Writing, “Trump has made clear he believes this Supreme Court — controlled by conservative justices, three of whom he appointed — owes him one,” she added, “My hunch is that Trump’s team let Corcoran’s testimony happen because of what’s likely involved in any request to pause, much less, review a crime-fraud-related ruling: the evidence.”

“Put another way, if Trump had petitioned the Supreme Court to stay Corcoran’s testimony and document production, the justices would have seen some, if not all, of what Judge Howell and the three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit have already reviewed: proof that Trump misled Corcoran and engaged in criminal conduct,” she elaborated.

Rubin went on to note that Trump would likely appeal any conviction to the Supreme Court, writing, “And for someone whose one last hope, if he is ultimately charged or tried by any of the multiple entities now investigating him, is that same Supreme Court, letting the justices see evidence of his alleged crimes now would be a bridge too far.”

“Trump can’t afford to lose the Supreme Court yet,” she suggested.

You can read more here.

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No TX Congressional Republican Will Say If They’re Attending Trump’s Rally in Waco – Will He Have Trouble Filling Seats?



Donald Trump‘s Saturday campaign rally in Waco, Texas, falls during the 30th anniversary of the 51-day siege that community is known for, when 86 people died after a failed ATF raid on an anti-government religious cult suspected of illegally stockpiling firearms amid allegations of sexual abuse, statutory rape, and polygamy.

Experts have been warning for a week that Trump’s choice of Waco, synonymous with violent anti-government extremism, was no accident. His rhetoric this week, including most recently Friday when he warned of “potential death & destruction” should he be indicted, has been seen as encouraging violence.

NCRM was among the first news outlets to report experts’ concerns over Trump’s choice to hold a rally in Waco during the 30th anniversary of the deadly siege.

Not a single congressional Republican from Texas will say they are attending, nor has the town’s GOP mayor, according to a report from Insider, which contacted over two dozen Republican lawmakers and other elected officials.

“None of the 30 Texas Republicans Insider contacted about the event said they were going,” Insider reveals.

“Most of the 30 GOP members contacted about Donald Trump’s inaugural visit to the site of a 30-year-old standoff between cult leader David Koresh and federal authorities did not respond to requests for comment about whether they intended to rally with the scandal-plagued candidate and perhaps say a few kind words,” Insider reports.

“Rep. Pete Sessions, a Waco native who now represents the surrounding 17th congressional district, praised Trump for shining a light on his hometown but said he’d have to miss the spectacle,” Insider adds. “Aides to Rep. Troy Nehls, one of the four House Republicans from Texas who have formally backed Trump’s 2024 run, told Insider he wouldn’t be heading to Waco because of a prior commitment in Washington, DC, this weekend.”

READ MORE: ‘Utter Cowardice’: Jim Jordan Blasted for Telling Reporter He Can’t Read Trump’s Violence-Threatening Post Without Glasses

Meanwhile, in addition to guest list challenges – the campaign refused to tell Insider who the guest speakers will be – Trump may have trouble filling seats.

Mary Trump, the ex-president’s niece who opposes him, has been running a campaign to get anti-Trump Americans to “sign up” for tickets to the Saturday rally, in the hopes of being able to turn away supporters.

“Donald has a rally in Waco this Saturday,” she also said via Twitter. “It’s a ploy to remind his cult of the infamous Waco siege of 1993, where an anti-government cult battled the FBI. Scores of people died. He wants the same violent chaos to rescue him from justice.”

“But we can stop him. If we book the 50,000+ venue, we can make sure most of the seats are empty when the traitor takes the stage,” she said. “We can no longer fail to hold powerful men accountable for their crimes against our country.”

Image via Shutterstock

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‘Utter Cowardice’: Jim Jordan Blasted for Telling Reporter He Can’t Read Trump’s Violence-Threatening Post Without Glasses



Countless GOP lawmakers over the years have professed ignorance over Donald Trump’s tweets as reporters ask them to respond, often claiming they hadn’t read them, but House Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan took that performance to a whole new level Friday afternoon.

NBC News senior national political reporter Sahil Kapur asked the Ohio Republican congressman to weigh in on Trump’s social media post threatening “potential death & destruction” if he gets indicted.

“Jordan said he hasn’t seen Trump’s post,” Kapur said via Twitter. “When I showed [it] to him on my phone, he said he can’t read well without his glasses.”

“He added he’s reviewing DA Bragg’s letter,” Kapur added.

READ MORE: ‘Big Shoe Drops’: Bad Day for Trump on Multiple Fronts in Special Counsel’s Grand Jury Probes

Jordan, who didn’t need glasses to appear on Fox Business just two days ago (photo) is getting blowback.

VICE News Deputy DC Bureau Chief Todd Zwillich explained the progression.

“The stages of ignoring incitement,” he tweeted. “2016: I don’t respond to tweets —> 2018: I havent seen the tweet —-> 2023: I literally can’t see the tweet.”

“Utter cowardice,” declared former GOP Congressman Joe Walsh. “Not at all the @Jim_Jordan I knew & served with in Congress 10 yrs ago. Or…maybe it is.”

“The sheer dishonesty and cowardice of these people,” lamented MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, echoing Walsh’s remarks.

Government watchdog group Citizens for Ethics said the “extent to which Trump’s backers in Congress are going to not condemn [his] calls for violence are ludicrous.”

RELATED: Ninth Wrestler Comes Forward to Say Jordan ‘Snickered’ When He Complained of Sexual Abuse: Report

Some tied Jordan’s inability to see the post to his apparent inability to see or remember all the Ohio State wrestlers who say they complained to Jordan when he was their assistant coach, about being sexually harassed or assaulted by the team doctor. To this day despite numerous reports and people publicly coming forward, Jordan denied it ever happened.

“Apparently, Jim Jordan is unable to see wrestlers being sexually abused or Donald Trump social media posts,” attorney and Republican turned Democrat Ron Filipkowski tweeted.

“Well, @Jim_Jordan has shown before that he has trouble seeing threats right in front of his nose, so this checks out,” tweeted historian Kevin M. Kruse.

But Jordan’s Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee may have served up the best response: “Why do you need your glasses to condemn violence @Jim_Jordan?”

READ MORE: ‘Pits Parents Against Parents’: House Republicans Pass Anti-LGBTQ Florida-Style K-12 ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’




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