Fans (well, rather, their counterparts) aren’t the only ones who can stand behind the safety of a computer screen to bully from a considerably safe distance. That power to do so also comes with the territory of working in today’s media.
Stu Bykofsky, a writer for the Daily News in Philadelphia, wrote about the recent post-game faux-pas of Andrew Harrison in his column titled, “The N-word and punks.” Throughout the piece, he did everything possible to kick not only Harrison, but the entire team while they were down while simultaneously claiming there is a “triple standard” at play.
If you didn’t know that Aaron Harrison and Frank Kaminsky were members of college basketball teams before reading Bykofsky’s column, you probably wouldn’t after reading it, either. After reading it, it feels like you’re being called to act in race riots in the streets of Indianapolis. Aaron Harrison used the n-word? Anarchy!
Bykofsky makes it sound like the actions of Harrison are deplorable and that he is incapable of remorse and lacks the brain cells necessary to form a coherent apology, because he, along with the rest of his team, are punks.
Punks because they, as an entire team, did not shake hands after the game. Punks because Aaron was caught saying something he shouldn’t have not ten minutes after losing in one of the biggest games of the entire tournament. Punks for visiting children’s hospitals and the elderly. Punks for going to class on a handful of hours of sleep after coming back from a game. Punks for having a cumulative 3.1 grade point average.
If that’s not what a punk is, by definition, then I’m not sure what is.
Journalists are supposed to report the news unbiasedly. Columnists are supposed to write opinion, and hopefully dig up a handful of facts that give their opinion some weight. Bykofsky seemed to have forgotten than small detail, rather choosing the route that blows up one instance and tries to make it a racial issue.
What I believe we should all remember is the fact that these kids–yes, kids–are all 18, 19, 20 years old. Show me a 20-year old who was making 100 percent stellar decisions and I’ll close the lid to this laptop and promise to never write another word again. Does the fact that Harrison garners national attention change much? Not really. It changes the fact that he shouldn’t have said it, but would it make anyone feel better to know that he said it in a mic-free room?
Bykofsky made a point when he brought up “cultural atmosphere,” but not much of one. We do live in a society where saying the slang term “nigga,” as Harrison did, can be taken to mean one thing in one instance, and completely different thing in another instance. I’m not one to decide on the usage; I’m just here to remind everyone that there is a distinct difference between “nigga” and the actual n-word.
As a 24-year old white girl, I’m less offended by the noun in Harrison’s statement than the verb. Maybe that is because of the society I grew up in and live in today. Maybe that’s because I’m desensitized to the word “nigga” because I can hear it in any given rap song by any given rap artist, regardless of their race or ethnicity. So I feel that if you’re going to have a problem with what Harrison said, you should have a problem with the actual expletive–not the “slur.”
The problem with today’s media is the power it has to publish anything it wants and push it directly to the masses within moments of breaking news. Today’s media revolves around a 24-hour live wire where stories are put out before completion, just to beat the others to the punch, and columns such as Bykofsky’s are written solely for clicks and shares instead of reputability. It’s all about riding the tidal wave that builds before it hits dry land.
Such is the case of Bykofsky’s column.
He knew that villainizing someone deemed a hero, or even a team of heroes, in the eyes of many would wage clicks-war against other news sources and authors and that, by incorporating the race card, he would prevail victorious. That doesn’t make you a respected author. All it simply makes you is a yet another bully hiding behind the safety of a computer screen.