Demand Professional Football Player Be Disciplined for Homophobic Slur

Target: Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League

Goal: Demand that Cleveland Browns linebacker Tank Carder be disciplined for a series of homophobic tweets.

For better or worse, professional athletes are role models for many people, which is why Cleveland Browns linebacker Tank Carder’s recent Twitter controversy is so worrying. Despite Carder’s public and repeated use of homophobic slurs on his Twitter account, the National Football League (NFL) has refused to take any substantial disciplinary actions against him. Tell Carder and the NFL that hate speech is unacceptable–demand that the NFL punish Carder for his insensitive and hateful tweets.

In his Twitter exchange with a fan, Carder used a series of homophobic slurs, calling the fan a “faggot,” mocking him for being “butt-hurt” (i.e., offended), and then defending his own actions with the dubious argument that “faggot” is “just a word” and that saying it “doesn’t make [him] a homophobe,” even though he doesn’t “agree with being gay or lesbian at all.”

Despite the attention the incident has received, the NFL has refused to take any definitive disciplinary action against Carder, either for the personal attack on the fan or the hate speech involved. The league has only stated that it was “in contact with the club and the club addressed it with the player…The Browns made clear to the player that it was unacceptable and he issued a public apology.” Said apology was half-hearted: “I want to sincerely apologize for the word I used!” Carder tweeted. “I did not in anyway [sic] mean to offend anyone! That tweet doesn’t define me as a person!” He later also claimed that he was “not bashing the gay and lesbian community in any way.”

A not-very-penitent apology and a slap on the wrist are not appropriate responses to hateful, bigoted language. Other professional sports leagues have responded swiftly and strongly to homophobic hate speech. After Kobe Bryant called a referee a “f—ing fag,” the National Basketball Association levied a stiff $100,000 fine. When Roger McDowell, pitching coach for the Braves, tossed homophobic jeers at fans, Major League Baseball fined him, suspended him for two weeks, and required him to undergo sensitivity training. Other teams in various sports leagues have taken similarly strong measures against homophobic actions. All of this just serves to make the NFL’s non-response that much more glaring.

Tell the NFL to take a strong stance against intolerance. Demand that Tank Carder be adequately disciplined–suspended, fined, or educated–for his hate speech.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Mr. Goodell,

For many sports fans, athletes are heroes and roles models. That’s why the NFL’s failure to adequately discipline Cleveland Browns linebacker Tank Carder for homophobic tweets is so troubling. I urge you to send a strong message about tolerance and set a positive example for football fans by disciplining Tank Carder for his hateful tweets.

The NFL is not the first professional sports league to face a problem like this. The sports world has been plagued by homophobic hate speech in recent years. The difference between those incidents and this one, however, is that each league responded with appropriate severity. The NBA fined Kobe Bryant for hurling a homophobic slur at a referee. The MLB has suspended and fined coaches and players alike for homophobic slurs, and the MLS fined and suspended a player and required him to undergo sensitivity training.

Although the NFL has forced Carder to apologize for his actions, the punishment does not fit the severity of the transgression, which was repeated and was directed at a fan as a personal attack. Furthermore, it is clear from Carder’s “apology” that he has no understanding of why his actions were wrong or feels any remorse–two things that sensitivity training could remedy.

Carder is a young member of the league, and the NFL’s non-punishment of his frankly deplorable actions only sends the message that any transgressions can be undone with a simple and half-hearted “apology.” Failing to send a strong disciplinary message now only creates potential for further disciplinary problems in the future. Most importantly, not disciplining Carder ignores the fans–and others–who have been hurt and offended by his ignorant and hateful words.

Please stand up for tolerance and inclusivity rather than ignorance and bigotry. Discipline Tank Carder for his inappropriate tweets.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Navin Rajagopalan via Flickr

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