As I write this, the first night of the Republican National Convention is a’happening. I’m not watching because I value my life, but much has been made about the lack of, shall we say, star power in the RNC’s line up of speakers.
Night one, for example, features Nikki Haley, Donald Trump Jr.’s facial pelt, and a woman who was found screaming outside of the White House about a deep state cabal of lizard pedophiles secretly running the government who is now a trusted advisor to the president.
Night two: Melania Trump, Sen. Rand Paul and a deer that will be killed live on stage by a crossbow wielding Ted Nugent and then used as a puppet to sing a song about how it’s better to be dead than a Democrat.
Night three: Mike Pence, the MyPillow guy and a closing musical number called, “Thank You for Our Glorious Deaths O’ Great Leader We Would Die for You Again and Again 12 More Years” performed by a 3 Doors Down tribute band with a background choir of the ghosts of the over 175,000 Americans killed by COVID-19.
You get the idea. TV to die for.
But while Trump is a creep every week, for this column I’d like to focus on sportz-talker man Thom Brennaman who was suspended mid-game after saying the f-word into a “hot mic.” And by “hot” I mean “on and in front of his face.”
No, this is not the same f-word used by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before her speech at the Democratic National Convention when she said, “It’s Shark Week, motherfuckers,” except she didn’t actually say the MFer part out loud because, as she says right afterward, she knows about “hot” mics.
And you would think that Brennaman, being an announcer and all, would, too. But maybe it slipped his mind when, during a Cincinnati Reds game against the Kansas City Royals, he referred to “one of the f-g capitals of the world” live on air as the game came back from a commercial break. I’m not sure where said capital is since he seems to have been put back on air mid-sentence.
As a result he was suspended by the Reds and Fox Sports has announced that he’s not going to be part of their NFL coverage this season.
Of course, he’s apologized. “I would like to sincerely apologize for the inappropriate comments I made during last night’s telecast,” he said according to The Washington Post. “I made a terrible mistake. To the LGBTQ community, and all people I have hurt or offended, from the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry. I respectfully ask for your grace and forgiveness.”
This apology is arguably better than the one he made on air: “I made a comment earlier tonight, that I guess went out over the air, that I am deeply ashamed of,” he said. “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say, from the bottom of my heart, I’m so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith.” He then and stopped mid-apology to call a home run before saying, “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again.”
Is his apology sincere? I don’t know. But that’s not the point.
On Twitter someone posted a clip of Brennaman using the slur and someone else responded that Brennaman should be fined or something, but that we shouldn’t jump straight to firing him.
It’s almost quaint in this raging hellscape that is Donald Trump’s America to focus on a sportz man saying the f-word.
But, of course, it isn’t quaint. As many have pointed out, the guy is a professional announcer, which means he’s perfectly comfortable talking like this while at work, likely encouraged, or at least not deterred, by his co-workers.
That means this is not just an isolated oopsie during his decades long career and no one has jumped straight to firing him.
Homophobia has deep roots. Sometimes those roots creep out of a guy’s mouth and into a microphone for thousands of people to hear. The true test is what happens afterwards and as awful as things are, the fact that this is a potentially career-ending moment rather than just dismissed as “locker room talk” means we’re creeping in the right direction.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.