Thursday, January 10, 2008

Golf Channel Anchor Suspended Over Comments About Tiger Woods

On Wednesday, the Golf Channel suspended anchor Kelly Tilghman for 2 weeks over comments she made about Tiger Woods on the air last Friday. During the Mercedes-Benz Championship, Tilghman was discussing young players who could challenge Tiger Woods with her broadcasting partner Nick Faldo, who suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up for a while." Tilghman jokingly replied, "Lynch him in a back alley".

When this news story first broke earlier in the week, the Golf Channel stated that no disciplinary action was planned. However, they changed their tune once the story started to gather steam (including the intervention of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who demanded that Tilghman be fired immediately). When the Golf Channel first announced their plans to do nothing, I was disappointed. Although I didn't think that Tilghman should be fired, I felt that a suspension would be sufficient. Joking or not, what Tilghman said was offensive and irresponsible.

Should the Golf Channel had done nothing as originally planned? Is the two week suspension sufficient? Should Tilghman be fired for her comments? I am interested to hear your thoughts.
For more on Tilghman's suspension, click here.

Below is a clip of the incident that started the controversy.


pjazzypar said...

Her dumb ass should have been fired? Ir's people speaking without thinking that cause a bunch of chaos and confusion. I'll bet she keeps her mouth shut from now on. Tiger and his people are also stupid for considering this type of insensitivity a non issue.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that what she said was thoughtless and silly, and ok, stupid. Can I play devil's advocate for just a second and say one thing? If Tiger Woods was white, would this have been a story at all?

PLEASE DO NOT GET ME WRONG: Racism is, in all it's meriad forms, reprehensible, wrong, and downright disgusting.

But if this same comment had been leveled at a white golfer, the media would never have said anything about it.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I'm with Michael. How many times do we use that phrase to mean nothing more than something bad happening to them?

Until this story broke, I didn't equate the idea of "he ought to be lynched, he's such a jerk" to what happened in the South to innocents. I have trouble believing that Tilghman meant it any differently.

We need to take a deep breath and two steps back before screaming about being offended. Woods himself said it was no big deal, so why is Sharpton opening his big mouth? He's clearly not fighting for the wronged party, who has taken a very admirable high road in all of this.

I dunno. I'm not even going to say that this was a stupid thing to say; I can't and won't judge it.

All I'll say is that people need to calm down and stop looking to be offended. It's not uncommon to find what you're looking for if you look hard and long enough.

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy: You crack me up. I was disappointed that Tiger and his people shrugged it off as nothing.

When Kelly Tilghman returns to her job, she should take Shelly "The Machine" Levene's advice, "If you can't think on your feet, keep your mouth shut." As you know, he should have taken his own advice.

Michael T.: You are right, if Tiger was white this wouldn't have been an issue. How about this... if Tiger was white, would she have made the comment?

As I got ready for work this morning, I thought more about what Ms. Tilghman said. Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that she would jokingly suggest an alley as the location for a lynching? Although a lynch mob might find a handy fire escape to use in order to do the deed, lynchings are normally done from a tree... and you don't see too many trees in alleys. It just makes me more skeptical in regards to the way Ms. Tilghman's mind works.

Malcolm said...

Susan: As you may already know, one of the things that I enjoy about writing this blog is hearing the opinions of others on controversial topics. This is no exception.

As I mentioned in my reply to Michael, would she had made those comments if Tiger were white? I doubt it. Of all things that the younger players could hypothetically do to Tiger, why would she suggest lynching in an alley? Why not something like break his arms or legs?

If Tiger chooses to brush off Ms. Tilghman's comments as no big deal, that's his choice. However, to me that still doesn't earn her a free pass for what she said.

As for the Rev. Al Sharpton, he lives for this type of shit. It keeps his face on TV and his name in the papers.

I agree that there are times when people are looking to be offended. However, I don't think this is one of those times.

The Rock Chick said...

Unfortunately, I think it's a matter of stupidity and ignorance. Lynching means executing someone without due process of law. That is murder. Even if she wasn't "aware" of the events in the south, this is hardly something to joke about for anyone.

I do think she would have said the same exact thing if Tiger Woods were white.

I am a white woman from Chicago who is not easily offended and I think the comment is offensive. She should be suspended, no doubt. Hopefully, it will teach her not to go off the teleprompter in the future.

pjazzypar said...

People ought to take a moment and look at things from historical perspective. I have a problem with people that think life began in 1980. It starts with comments like Imus made that are derogatory, but know real harm is done, to comments about lynching, which I am sure in her stupidity that she was not meaning to incite. However, it sends a message that this type of insensitivity is okay as long as you apologize.

I am simply sick of people saying anything and not being significantly held accountable in a harsh and swift manner. It's time to send the message once and for all that this type of behavior is not alright and will not be tolerated. If some heads have to roll to get the point across, so be it. After hearing that Lauren Hill had one several Grammy Awards back in 1998 one radio announcer who made the comment "No wonder they drag them behind trucks" (referring to the Texas lynching of James Byrd). He was fired immediately as he should have been.

Usually, I would say that Al Sharpton is overreacting because as Malcolm so eloquently put it "he lives for this shit", however this time I am on board with his comments. I agree with the rock chick, stick to the damn script if you can't ad lib any better than that. I don't care if she was being malicious or not.

pjazzypar said...

Oops Malcolm, I forgot to comment on the "Machine" reference. For some reason this subject really got under my skin. Lynching means to string somebody up or hang them. Trees were always more convenient; however a lamppost, fire escape, hell even a street sign will do in a pinch.

FRIGGA said...

I do not excuse racism. I also believe that we should not have a speech police. If the Golf Channel had decided not to discipline (I think that was the wrong first choice), then Al Sharpton shouldn't be the one to tell them to - their customers should have been the ones demanding action.

In regards to the trend (not the instance): I am sick and tired of hearing about this almost nobody and that almost nobody said something that is offensive to someone - WHO CARES???!!! It's not against the law to offend. In a 24 news media I know they have to scrap to find stuff to report, but there's much better news out there to cover than this.

Thanks for letting my throw in my 2 cents :-)

X. Dell said...

I have to agree with Pjazzy. Asking the rhetorical question of whether or not this announcer would have been fired had woods been white, and then saying no, ducks the issue.

For example, were Woods white, and the commentator made a remark about stopping his progress by forcing him to overindulge in fried chicken, chitlins and watermelon, would we consider that racist? Well, one would first have to ask why such an image would come to the commentator's mind, since that doesn't seem to be the typical PGA fare, even in southern states.

In other words, asking that particlar hypothetical question becomes meaningless, for the same reason as the above example. One would have to doubt that she would have ever said either about a white golfer.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that many are so uncomfortable with racism that they begin to recharacterize it as stupidity or unprofessionalism. Consequently, less and less racially influenced behavior and remarks become attributable to racism. Moreover, those who see the connection are sometimes villified for their compulsion to expose racist thought where they see it. I don't think this brings about a wider understanding of the issue, and blunting its force. In fact, quite the opposite.

Now as to the disciplinary tact that her employer should take, I think that's totally up to the employer's discretion. If the commentator offers an apology and promises not to do it again, I could live with that, for the infraction isn't really a big, big deal when you think about it. After all, if freedom from racialist thought--and it's really the thought, or the sentiment that counts, not the expression--a requirement for a job in the public sphere, we would finally have to wonder how many people would be left to employ.

pjazzypar said...

It's the WHO CARES attitude that leads to offensive racist speech and acts. I do care and I would care even if I wasn't black. It's the not caring that leads individuals to think that they can say anything and do anything and not be held accountable. Sure there are bigger issues, but I focusing on this one right now. If derogatory comments were made against a Latino or a Jewish person, for instance, I would be just is pissed because "injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere", Dr. Martin Luther King.

X. Dell said...

I understand, PJazzy. The more one lets the small stuff slide, the more that small stuf turns into big stuff. I wouldn't suggest letting it slide, and agree that disciplinary action is appropriate.

The only issue here is what appropriate disciplinary action consists of. After all, my focus would be on correcting the problem, not merely replacing one racist person with another until the second one's mouth also brings them out of the KKKloset:-)

Holly Smith said...

My thing is that the phrase just rolled off of her tongue so easily, as though she uses that phrase all the time! And come on, who says "lynch him in a back alley"? That's really bizarre to me. Lynching is an inherently racist word in my opinion. Then, the guy was like, "yeah yeah" agreeing with her. I wonder what will happen with him. Although, what she said probably hadn't even sunk in with him before he responded.

Malcolm said...

Jessica: Like you said, lynching isn't a laughing matter. If this doesn't teach her not to go off the teleprompter, she should at least take some ad-lib courses or something.

Pjazzy: Al Sharpton is similar to Gloria Allred in that whenever there is something controversial involving blacks or women respectively, you can bet that they will be around when the cameras start rolling. I am sometimes of the mindset that Al needs to sit down somewhere. However, I am glad that he spoke up regarding this incident. I don't remember hearing about the guy who made the Lauryn Hill comments. However, I am glad to learn that they canned his ass for what he said.

No biggie about missing the "Machine" reference I made earlier. Were you like Ed Harris' character who said, "Fuck the Machine?! Fuck the Machine?!"

Frigga: Although it doesn't rank up there with the Iraqi War and events of that nature, I feel that incidents with racial/sexual/homophobic overtones are worth covering by the news media.

Thanks for putting your two cents in. Even if I don't agree, divergent opinions that are presented in a respectful manner are always welcome.

X. Dell: Because of the many questionable things that I have witnessed over the years, I often find myself asking, "was that comment/action racially motivated?" Sometimes it probably is, sometimes it might not be. I do think that there can be a danger in seeing racism everywhere. I call it the Chicken Little syndrome.

Holly: I am glad you brought up the point about the comments just rolling off her tongue. On the sports radio station that I listen to, they were discussing the topic yesterday. There were a few callers who said that nothing should have happened to her because they felt that she said it in a benign way. When I saw the clip, I questioned how easily she seemed to say it (as if she had uttered those types of comments before).

I don't think anything will happen to Nick Faldo (her broadcasting partner) because like you said, her comments probably didn't even register with him right away. Maybe 10 seconds later he processed it and thought, "Oh shit Kelly, what the hell did you just say?!"

Candy Minx said...

Oh my god...I missed this completely malcolm, I am sick to my stomach.

I can't get the video to work...I'll try to check YouTube directly...

and to other contributors...I have never once used that phrase in my life...I don't think it has ever been an appropriate thing or word to use...could this be a Canadian perspective of mine?

Malcolm said...

Candy: No, it's not a Canadian thing because I have never used the term either. I think that most of us in the U.S. don't think it's appropriate either. I just tried to play the clip from my blog and found that it is no longer available and I can't edit my blog from my work PC. However, somebody else did post it on You Tube. Here is the link:

pjazzypar said...

candy minx, I have been to Canada on several occasions and I do feel it is a kinder and gentler nation. First of all the country was not built on the hypocrisy of slavery. And it just feels different there to me (good different). As you may know the the Under Ground Railroad transported a many Blacks to your fair country.

Candy Minx said...

pjazzypar, yes, in many ways we have a lot of laws to protect people from hate crimes...and for tolerance. Canada does have would be silly for me to pretend we don't...but we do take our commitment to tolerance very seriously regarding hate crimes and public speaking. We had an anchor who lost her job about 10 yearsago because she made a immature joke about affirmative action. Canada is very serious about employment laws and affirmative action.

When my boyfriend visits Toronto (from Chicago) he is often overwhelmed by the feeling that people really are more tolerant and integrated than they are in United States.

Damien said...

Thanks for posting this Malcolm. I would have liked to have heard the context of what the guy was talking about because it seems she is just mirroring and finishing the point he is getting at. It might be interesting to see what she probably meant by "lynch him in a back alley."

Maybe she meant beat him up gang style or something like that. Nonetheless, I think its just as bad in "appearance" as Imus' "Nappy Headed Ho" comment that got him fired. If that was her clear intent (lynch I mean) she should be fired post-haste. At the same time, I think its worth hearing the whole tape in court or before a black panel to really get at what she meant.

Malcolm said...

Damien: According to Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith, Ms. Tilghman says that her comments were meant to imply that younger golfers don't have a chance at beating Tiger on the golf course. I have heard sports analysts in the past say that the only way an underdog has a chance against a superior opponent is if the latter suffers an injury which prevents them from playing. To me, it would have made more sense if she had replied to Nick Faldo's comments with something like, "break his legs" or "destroy his golf clubs".

The Mistress of the Dark said...

The problem is that as soon as someone makes a thoughtless remark, it's construed as racism instead of what it really is, stupidity or simply something that shouldn't have been said on the air.

However I'm going to shut my piehole because I don't want to start an argument.

Lori said...

Typically, I avoid conversations like these. What I've learned in 40 plus years of living in the world is--as difficult as it is to change peoples' minds, it's even more difficult to change their hearts.

For all of the folks who want to fall back on the use of the ole 'if Tiger had been White, this wouldn't be an issue arguement' . . . Listen, that's exactly the point. Context is everything.

For instance: WHAT IF Tiger were a Jewish golfer and Ms. Kelley had said: "Yeah, why don't we stick him in a chamber and gas him?" Would anyone be saying, hey, she made a stupid remark? Moreover, would anyone be questioning her firing? Please.

Like it or not, there are just certain things you just don't say, in certain circumstances, about, around, or in conjunction with certain people . . . unless your goal is to be written off as racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, etc., etc.

I truly find it fascinating that some folks are always looking for a way to remove "race" from these equations. They'd prefer to call incidents like these anything BUT racist. Oh, she made a stupid remark, but she's not racist.

Well, how's this for a compromise. Maybe she isn't racist, maybe she's just stupid. I'll buy that: Yeah, she's a stupid woman who made a blantantly racisit remark. (LOL)

Now, having said all of that you might be surprised to learn that like Malcolm, I still don't think Ms. Kelly should have been fired. Reprimanded and suspended, hell yeah, but not fired. Why? Well, 'cause in my book, even stupid deserves a second chance.

Malcolm said...

Mistress of the D and Lori: As to whether or not Ms. Tilghman is a racist, maybe she is... maybe she isn't. I doubt that we'll ever really know.

I am glad that you both decided to air your views on this topic. I don't think the race problem in this country will ever be solved. If that makes me a pessimist, so be it. However, I feel that the more we all talk about these types of issues, the better off we will be.

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