Roy Hibbert Gay Slur Explained, But Not Excused

by Kent Sterling

imagesSometimes professional athletes in front of a microphone forget that they are potentially talking to everyone in the world.  The chances for offending someone exponentially grows depending upon the importance of the event in which they are participating.

The postgame of the Pacers game six win in the Eastern Conference Finals against the most heavily covered team in the NBA is a big event.

In the postgame press conference last night, Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert said, “I really felt that I let Paul (George) down in terms of having his back, when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint because he stretched me out so much, no homo,” Hibbert said.

I was perplexed by the comment, having never heard “No homo” before.  My son told me that “No homo” is a phrase used in locker rooms in the way Michael Scott said “That’s what she said!” on “The Office”.

  • Player One: Don’t give him the back door!
  • Player Two:  No homo.

Or the same person might say it all himself, if he recognizes the double entendre.

In Hibbert’s case, he was praising George with enthusiasm, and used “No homo” to bring what he thought was humor to communicate that while he is a fan of George’s, lust does not accompany his admiration.

Like a lot of what goes on inside the sanctity of the locker room, it’s insensitive, sophomoric, and idiotic.  Whether it’s offensive is defined by those who heard it, and decide to take offense or not.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is offensive language.  I’m offended by almost nothing because I accept the brainlessness of society, and their complete inability not to say dopey things.  If people can’t keep from killing each other or stealing each others’ stuff, how in the hell can any of us expect people to be perfect in choosing their words.

Why anyone would choose to be aghast or emotionally tortured because Hibbert said “No homo” is as good a question as asking Hibbert what the hell he was thinking.

Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee said some equally foolish things in a meeting that was recorded.  Those comments and the recording featuring them were aired last week, and the repercussions were profound.  Speculation from inside the university is that if Gee tries to get clever at someone’s or some group’s expense again, he will either be fired or forced to resign.

Anyone who knows Hibbert is confident that his heart is relatively pure, and that no offense was intended.  Unfortunately for Hibbert, that isn’t the grading scale that counts.  Whether he’s to be held accountable is up to those who heard his words.  Intent is inferred, not implied, meaning that Hibbert and Gee themselves cannot proclaim any meaningful innocence.  It can only be conferred by members of the group who may take umbrage.

Hibbert also used the term “M****r-f****r”, but swearing is usually dismissed pretty quickly unless it slips past the FCC license holders who can be fined a lot of money for allowing that language to leak into the speakers of radios and televisions.  Then, those license holders get pissed.

I would recommend that the people who listened to Hibbert and became hysterical decide that life is better when you accept the stupidity and imperfection of others.  At the same time, people asked to speak publicly need to understand what the precise purpose of all that electronic equipment is – to disseminate their words to a potential audience of billions.

Words can enlighten or they can wound.  Hibbert used locker room vernacular at a presser, and now he’ll pay the price of a fine, and some fleeting scrutiny designed to serve as a significant disincentive for others.

As part of what I’m sure will be an ongoing campaign to mitigate the damage caused by his comments, and to let everyone know that he now gets it, Hibbert released this statement through the Pacers website:

“I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night. They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television. I apologize to those who I have offended, to our fans and to the Pacers’ organization. I sincerely have deep regret over my choice of words last night.”

12 thoughts on “Roy Hibbert Gay Slur Explained, But Not Excused

  1. Kevin C

    Perfect analysis. He basically made a “that’s what she said” joke at the wrong time. It certainly wasn’t hate speech, and I wouldn’t even call it a gay slur because slur connotes a slang word used hurtfully.

    I also want to point out that he didn’t just “no homo” the overall compliment to Paul George… he said “no homo” because of the particular part of his compliment “because he stretched me out so much.”

    This makes the use of the phrase funnier – but no more appropriate or forgivable.

    Reply
  2. Jonathan Mulzer

    I agree completely. It is absolute up to the observer as to whether or not they choose to be offended. We as a society get so upset over syllables. I have never found profanities to be personally profane to me. I would have no problem with them being on radio or TV. it would not bother me because I have the ability to change stations or turn it off completely and do something else.

    Also, as a person who has several gay friends, I can say that most take intent into consideration more than the words themselves. I have never had a homosexual friend get offended because I referred to something as gay. I cannot imagine any gay person I know being offended at what he said.

    People need to stop letting themselves get offended at particular arrangements of syllables. they are just words. The word “M*****f*****” may be low brow, but in and of itself those syllables are not offensive.

    Reply
  3. trb

    Why is it ok for gay people to be proud to be gay and bad to declare that a straight person is not a homo,gay or even homosexual? Why should straight people now defend what they are? Gay people in the company of themselves say much worse. I’m not saying either is ok but hell, stop making this news. This has been going on for a while now. Hibbert meant no harm to that at all. We should learn a lot more from the younger people coming up, they are so far ahead of us as it is related to our sexual preferences.

    Reply
  4. BrotherD

    Dear TRB,

    You are right about learning from younger generations.

    However, there are still around today, so many groups of people who try to bring down the gay community, with both words and actions. While things are getting better, particularly with young people, there are still plenty of biggots out there, and they are raising children like the rest of us! There are millions of religious americans who openly point to one paragraph in Leviticus (the bible) to justify demeaning gays and barring them from heaven.

    This is why we can’t stay silent. This is why it is important to treat this like big news. Its about sending a message to the next generation that they will need to stand up to those who demean others – not just gays, but any minority.

    Its not about being politically correct, its about protecting a minority – who are doing nothing wrong – from certain members of the majority who wish to demean them publicly.

    Its because “homo,” like “nigger” has a history of oppression connected to it. It has been used in a derogatory fashion in popular culture for years. Its use in popular culture coincides with a period of time in which homosexuals have been ostracized by societies around the world.

    “Gay people in the company of themselves say much worse” ? Yes. All minorities do. Its part of being a minority, or being part of any group, for that matter. But the context and the audience makes all the difference.

    When an NBA player speaks on ESPN he is not just being heard by the gay community. The gay community members are not hearing him say “no homo” and thinking “wow, that’s great. I used that term yesterday, and now this dude is using it on national tv! Awesome!”

    What really happens is that gay people know that everyone is listening. They know that the 10 year old son of well-meaning but biggoted parents is going to assume that demeaning gays is an acceptable part of our culture.

    You can’t say, “don’t make this an issue.”

    Roy Hibbert shouldn’t be able to say “leave me alone liberal media! Why can’t I publicly demean millions of people around the world, chuckle, and then go about my business? You’re the problem, media!”

    When the future leaders of the world (children) hear “no homo” followed by a snickering chuckle by Hibbert, and no response, they will think that society condones this behavior; Hibbert gets to be cute on national tv at the expense of a ten percent minority of people in the world- and no consequence?

    We can’t be silent on this, because our children will assume we condone it. They will most likely do the same when they come of age, and that would be tragic.

    Reply
    1. That's what he said.

      We can’t be silent on this, because our children will assume we condone it. They will most likely do the same when they come of age, and that would be tragic.

      Stupid. It sounds like you would have wanted Roy Hibbert to stay silent about it. Isn’t it better that he said it out loud so people with no direction and purpose in life like you can now argue that they have one? Be grateful then and take your hat off.

      Reply
  5. JC

    This stuff is getting sickening. Enough already. 75k for what? When we try to ram our PC down the throats of others the result is an increase in festering resentment. You cannot legislate moral fiber folks.

    Reply
  6. Jeff Gregory

    Everyone wants to jump on words and make a federal case out every flippant comment. Live and let live. Both sides of sensitive issues need to step back. Those who speak, perhaps needs to think a little more. However, Hibbert gets paid to play basketball, not to filter for PR purposes. He should speak as he speaks otherwise he is not being genuine.

    Those who react, just need to relax. People will always say things that aren’t appreciated by everyone. Examine the intent. Accept it or ignore it.

    People should borrow from the wisdom of Lt Uhura (an African-American from the original Star Trek series) as she dealt deals with un-PC language:

    LINCOLN: What a charming negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

    UHURA: But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we’ve learned not to fear words.

    Pretty simple, isn’t it?

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      Thanks to everyone for making thoughtful additions to this dialogue. Hopefully, the result of millions of these conversations is an ability to not take so seriously the random musings of athletes.

      Reply
  7. TRB

    I don’t want to be misunderstood in anyway, I don’t condone what Hibbert said. Even so, I don’t agree with people putting other people who are different down either. This is not like the words homo and nigger as you mentioned. One is abbreviated and really means homosexual and the other is just plain mean spirited and malicious! I have to tell you talking about this matter is very complicated. to be honest it is not a fair conversation. If I try to express my beliefs and my problems I’m construed as being homophobic .I am NOT against gay people , I am against and reject the act. I believe everyone can choose to be what they want to be it doesn’t make it right. As for the Bible states people don’t allow people to go to heaven the Bible states that is God’s choice who goes to heaven. Again the point is people who have strong beliefs are being put down because of their speaking what would be believed to be the truth according to their beliefs in the Bible. Let me say this every person regardless of what they are should be loved equally the same and not be discriminated against. Only God would be the judge who’s right or wrong all we can do is live according to God’s words.stop making war with people try bringing people together. If it’s OK to publicize that you are gay its okay to publicize that you don’t agree with being gay . Neither the persons are wrong its only their opinions only their opinions!

    Reply

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