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Dumb Leads to Dumber

If you are at all in touch with the Boston sports radio scene, you’ve heard this Tony Massarotti story. As a matter of fact, BO Blogs was one of the first places to cover it. I won’t waste time explaining it, I’ll just put the link here and you can read all about it:

That was written on Monday morning. Massarotti went on Felger & Mazz Monday afternoon and gave, what seemed to me, an authentic apology. Then, on Tuesday it was announced by Michael Felger at the beginning of the show that Massarotti had been suspended for the remainder of the week and all of Beasley Media would be going through a racial sensitivity training.

I predicted something like this would happen. Nobody should be surprised. You could see it coming from a mile away. In today’s climate, this kind of thing is going to explode. And just like I expected, there has been a MASSIVE divide in the opinions of media members on the whole situation.

One side of this issue is on the warpath. Notorious VOG morning host on 87.7 FM in Boston had this to say in a Tweet: “He's a typical Bostonian—he'll be just fine! If he said something antisemitic, homophobic or sexist. He'd be GONE! Racism is FULLY tolerated in Boston & MA.” To VOG, whom I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of, Mazz’s statement is an indictment on the entire city and state for that matter. VOG is on the extreme end of the Mazz hatred, but the common theme is calling him a racist for his comments.

The other side of the argument has some things to say as well. Well known and self-proclaimed right wing zealot Gerry Callahan had this to say about Mazz being suspended, “So if the 2 strangers were white or Hispanic or Asian, Tony is fine. But they were black, so he pays with his reputation and pays forever. Those are the rules.

But he would have made the same joke if they were white. Race had nothing to do with it and everyone knows it.” Not to be outdone, Connecticut conservative radio host and podcaster Tom Shattuck tweeted in response to Boston Globe writer Chris Gasper expressing his feelings on the Mazz situation, “Chris, young men steal cars. It's a joke. Don't look for reasons to have your feelings hurt.”

As is always the case here, both sides of this argument are wrong.

Let’s start with the “Mazz is racist” crowd. I’ll make my argument by making a statement that I am 100% confident is true. Every single adult in America has accidentally said or done something racially insensitive. There is no doubt in my mind. Unfortunately, I am in that category as well. WIth that being true, one other thing is also true. Not every person who says something racially insensitive is a racist. If that were the case, everyone would be racist. We all do have prejudices towards people, but it isn’t about hatred or racism. I’ll use a non racial example to prove my point. I can’t stand people who talk on speakerphone in public. It is the ultimate sign of disrespect to everyone around to think we care about your dumb conversation. Does that mean I hate everyone who does this? No. I’m sure one of my very good friends has done the same thing.

The same logic can be applied to this situation. It is all about intent. I had a discussion on Twitter with someone who thought intent had nothing to do with racism. That’s just simply not true. I’ll admit, Massarotti asking if the people behind Felger could hear him is troubling, but I don’t think he was trying to be racist. I think it was a bad attempt at a joke that showed his age.

Ok. Now let’s flip the coin and go to the other extreme.

If Callahan and Shattuck think that the comments had “nothing” to do with race, then they’re blinder than I am. Mazz made a comment that was probably acceptable when he was younger, and is no longer acceptable in 2023. He said so himself. These right wingers just want to go against “Woke Culture.” If you asked Shattuck and Callahan if Tony Mazz should say something like that a week ago, they’d both say something to the effect of “Hell no.” Their responses are just like those who called Mazz a vile racist. It’s just taking the opposite side because that’s what their political ideologies say they should do.

This little incident is truly an indictment of where we are as a society. Everything is all or nothing. No room for civil, non-emotionally charged conversation. People will just make blanket declarations like “Mazz is a racist POS” or “Mazz did nothing wrong!” Did any of these people think maybe it’s neither of these? No they didn’t. They just wanted to get their opinion out there and stick to what their side wants the narrative to be. Well people, that’s why we are where we are. Nobody is willing to sit back and think.

If I’m being honest, Mazz’s apology was enough for me. He was clearly sorry he made the comment. He’s clearly learned his lesson. He’ll never do that again. I think a suspension is too much, but that’s where we are now. That’s where we run into another issue. If you keep punishing people harshly, it’s going to galvanize the other side. And the Notorious VOG calling the whole city racist is just going to hurt his cause. It’s going to make people who are trying to do the best they can despise these kinds of sentiments. It would be much more useful to condemn the statement and try to learn from it. Not just insult an entire state.

I’ll end with a phrase I use with my elementary kids and I hope adults can start understanding. No matter how far apart two stories are, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. It’s about time we stop making declarations and try to use this approach. We’ll be much happier and more problems will get solved.

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