Political correctness and simply being overly concerned about being charged with racism has once again gone too far. NCAA basketball referee, Karl Hess, lost his job overseeing games in the Atlantic Coast Conference for what was deemed to be an ethnic and therefore inappropriate comment to a fan sitting court side during a game between Wake Forest and Louisville.
Here is what he said after apparently being heckled:
“When I'm older I want to sit in your seat & watch your Egyptian ass ref a game.”
That’s it. That is all. He referred to the fan as Egyptian and that was enough to be fired.
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By the way, the booster, whose name is Mit Shah, is a former chairman of the Wake Forest board of trustees and is the CEO of an Atlanta-based hotel management company. So he is not just any fan. His stature may have been a factor in the decision to fire Hess for daring to reference his so-called ‘Egyptian ass.” Hess should definitely get his ethnicities straight when referring to someone’s butt, though. The influential fan is not Egyptian at all but rather of Indian descent, and born in the U.S.
But regardless of the wrong ethnicity being singled out, Hess should not have been fired. It is so ridiculous that we have gotten to this place where referring to someone’s country of origin (let’s ignore the wrong one in this case) or their ethnicity is wrong just for the fact that it was mentioned. Being on the watch for slurs or demeaning terms I get. But straight references to country or ethnicity in any circumstance is wrong?
It reminds me of an incident once where someone I was talking to was trying to fill me in on someone so they were trying to describe the person so I would know which person in a group we were looking at. They were so sensitive to using racial terms that they went around and around to describe them - height, clothes, portliness. All of that rather than just say, “the black guy over there” when the person he was referring to was literally the only black person in a group of people.
Black is a descriptor. It is not a slur. Just as Egyptian was a descriptor for Hess. Don’t get me wrong I understand why we are so careful, and why my friend was being so careful in trying not to focus on race in our discussion and identifying of that individual.
But we have to be smart enough, and discerning enough to know when someone is putting someone down because of race or ethnicity, or they are simply using it as a way to identify.
I am not even a fan of the term “politically correct.” I think it is a term people on the right came up with as a way to counter accusations of their insensitivity to people. So most of the time the term is used as a way to deflect calls for sensitivity. But with Karl Hess I have to say it sure feels like this a true case of a society that has gone way too far in its attempt to eliminate racism. The goal is valid and of course I support it. But the idea that we must scrub all references of any kind to ethnicity, even when not meant to degrade, is just silliness. Being an “ass” might be a problem. Being an Egyptian is not.
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