I have been pondering this question recently. Hulk Hogan, legendary wrestler of the 80s and 90s, is basically having his career erased from the WWE website due to racist comments that have been made public from a sex tape. The National Enquirer made the transcripts of this tape public. They were leaked from a million-dollar lawsuit that Hogan had against Gawker.com for invasion of privacy. After the transcripts were released, the WWE acted very swiftly, erasing Hogan’s history from the sport saying, “WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
Nobody remembers what John Wayne said to Playboy in 1971 and only die-hard sports fans remember Marge Schott’s racist comments. But in this day an age, we don’t tolerate racist celebrities. There is no “he’s a good ol’ boy” pass–or else Dog the Bounty Hunter may have had a show for longer. Racists, or those who say racially-insensitive things, are being silenced and loosing their shows and careers–though some of them have regained them or have been able to apologize their way out of it. Is that a good thing? In a country that celebrates its diversity, should we be silencing and firing those who have negative or harmful points of view?
After the Charleston shooting, most retailers have removed the Confederate Flag from stores. Retailers in the United States don’t want to associate themselves with a racist symbol–especially after such a horrible incident and with the public outcry for it. That’s capitalism. But does that mean that companies and entertainment entities should be firing those with negative viewpoints? In a dollar-and-cents point of view, yes. The Redskins have been losing money in merchandising. And the Internet can spread boycotts on Twitter and Tumblr so fast that celebrities don’t have time to apologize and go to sensitivity training.
But, as a society, what does it say about us that we silence those with negative points of view? I just wonder if that shows a different sort of intolerance–intolerance of the opposing viewpoint. One is labeled a racist, homophobe, or bigot and that means they are discredited and have no right to speak. I am not saying that I agree with these points of view. But in a democracy we can’t just have one side being heard. Everyone deserves a Voice, even the people with Voices we don’t like. At The Sexy Politico all voices are valued and listened to, because it’s hard to know if what you believe is right or wrong, until somebody challenges your belief.