Exposing Intolerance

We're lucky we have celebrities. Without people like Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, and Tim Hardaway, the popular media might never pay attention to the country's most serious and enduring social problem: intolerance.

An incident this offensive deserves as much attention as the Gibson, Richards, and Hardaway rants. Will it receive comparable coverage? No celebrities were involved, so don't bet on it.

A Catholic school principal has organized sensitivity training for students who shouted "We love Jesus" during a basketball game against a school with Jewish students. The word "Jew" also was painted on a gym wall behind the seats of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School students attending the Feb. 2 game at Norfolk Academy, said Dennis W. Price, principal of the Virginia Beach school.

Price who also watched the game, said the rivals exchanged chants, "Then, at some point, our students were chanting, 'We love Jesus.'"

"It was obviously in reference to the Jewish population of Norfolk Academy; that's the only way you can take that," he added.

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    More of the same.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by jerry on Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 04:08:40 PM EST


    Across the nation, schools struggle to celebrate athletic spirit without sinking to cheers and chants steeped in intolerance.

    by Tom Owens

    Imagine a classroom teacher detailing ways to taunt and name-call, drilling her students on chants designed to humiliate another group of students. Who, anywhere, would expect that to happen?

    But in school gyms and stadiums, such behavior -- sometimes characterized as humor rather than humiliation -- often is the norm. Racial, religious, ethnic or socioeconomic differences between teams often increase the volume of intolerance, and win-at-all-cost boosters may ignore or even encourage such verbal venom.


    How nasty have trash-talking high school fans become? Consider a few examples from around the nation:

        We pay taxes, yes we do.
        We pay taxes, how about you?

    In 2003, white fans at a Show Low, Ariz., high school heckled a visiting Apache basketball team with this class- and race-based chant, assigning second-class citizenship to Native Americans. Many in the crowd dismissed the fan behavior as a joke -- a tactic often used to discount or minimize the damage done by racialized language.

    Harold Slemmer, Arizona Interscholastic Association executive director, said that more adults than students were involved in the jeers.




    Community reacts to effect of racial slurs on students in Rockland

    Vincent DiSalvio/The Journal News
    "We're in a state of emergency," said Cassandra Edwards, with her 14-year-old son, Nathaniel, in their Spring Valley home. "Racism is prevalent in Rockland County. Why do we keep acting as if it's nonexistent?" Her son plays basketball for the Ramapo Freshman Center. Team members and parents have been upset since the team found a slur and a drawing of a lynching in the locker room they were using at Suffern High School.

    The incidents

    • Jan 11: Ramapo Freshman Center's basketball team discovers a racial epithet and a sketch of a lynching on a chalkboard in the locker room after a game at Suffern High School. The police are notified the next day. Suffern High School and Ramapo Central School District officials write letters of apology. About 500 people were at the school that day. No one has been arrested.

    • October: A Pearl River Middle School girls' volleyball coach was accused of using a racial slur during a game with an East Ramapo school district team. The coach is also a teacher in the Pearl River district. Both districts discuss the situation. Pearl River announces in November that an investigation had cleared the coach. East Ramapo disagrees.

    SPRING VALLEY - Nathaniel Edwards felt upbeat after his freshman basketball team beat Suffern.

    After the win, the Ramapo Freshman Center team trooped into the locker room they were using at Suffern High School.

    Tired but jubilant, Edwards sat down, then glanced up at the chalkboard. And was staggered.

    "I was like, 'Oh, it looks like somebody doesn't want us here,' " the 14-year-old recalled saying.

    A racial slur and the sketch of a lynched person were what stunned Edwards and his teammates, all of whom are black or Hispanic.

    I'm not (none / 0) (#4)
    by Deconstructionist on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 09:04:14 AM EST
     in any way condoning the behavior. It is repulsive. I'm just saying that it seems to have received plenty of attention for what it is. Idiotic taunting is never a good thing and its worse when based on religious, ethnic, racial, etc. differences.

      I just find it strange that on a site where I somwhat frequently that the MSM is conspiring to suppress stories about the war, the perfidy of the administration and other great issues, in favor of breathless, sensational coverage of trivialities  that there would be a belief this needs more coverage than the not inconsiderable it has received.

       The kids acted atrociously, they were called on it, their idiocy has been widely disclosed and the principal sounds as if he id responding appropriately for the right reasons. What more needs to be said?

    10 or 20 years ago (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 01:37:03 PM EST
    i might have agreed with you decon; publicity in the NYT's and AP would have seemed sufficient. i'm not sure that's any longer the case. yes, the principal has cracked the whip, without even attempting to defend it, to his credit.

    however, if this sort of behaviour has reached such a level of acceptance, that it happens in a catholic school, it's indicative of the malignent, festering wound in our society, that needs the cleansing rays of the media sun shined upon it.

    not only wouldn't this have occurred 30 years ago, no one would even have considered it, it just wasn't done. what the hell are they teaching those kids in that school?

    I get your point but... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Deconstructionist on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 02:05:32 PM EST
      I disagree that it would not have happened thirty yrars ago. I was in high school around that time and such intolerance was probably worse back then. Admittedly,  I played sports in public school leagues but the abuse between rival schools was often extreme and not infrequently got physical in addition to verbal taunting.

      I went to a predominantly white middle class high school and we'd have altercations just with other predominantly white high schools and the conflicts often led to the the invocation of perceived differences in racial and social class because those were the only even possible differences to exploit.

       When we played schools with larger black populations there were also  frequently altercations and both sides were not above exploiting race to exacerbate if not cause conflict.

      This is nothing new. It was bad then and its bad now but I don't see it getting worse as far as "intolerance" goes. does it seem that "kids today" are generally less well-mannered, respectful and civilized than when I was a kid? Perhaps, but then I remind myself, i'm viewing "kid's today" through eyes nearly 50 where I remember my youth from the prespective of a kid.