They can talk about all of these goals and plans and preparation they have [Michael Phelps and coach Bob Bowman]. I saw it. I know. It’s different. And I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time.
That was U.S. Olympic swimmer Tyler Clary about a month ago on Phelps’ work ethic. Before the London Games started. Before Phelps went on to become the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals, 18 of which are gold.
I can look back at my career and hang my suit up and say I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. And that is the only thing I wanted to be able to say when I retire.
That’s Phelps to Bob Costas after swimming his last event the other day. After retiring from the sport. To me, a man completely satisfied with his career.
So why Clary’s diss? His comments are symptomatic of an illness that’s making people say whatever they want to say, without forethought or understanding or regard for the person they’re talking about, and then share it with the world.
This goes along with a series of posts I did last week on the prevalence of extreme views in online communications. And how they’re turning the internet into the haternet (not Clary’s comments). And how we need consequences to get people to stop.
Just like children, people often need to be told what’s right and wrong (yes, that’s condescension you’re reading). In the case of online hating, it’s the court of public opinion that governs. And consequences. (And maybe just the courts down the road.)
Like Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, who got herself booted off the Greek Olympic team before she even left Athens for a racially insensitive “joke” and publicized support of a “formerly marginal extreme right” Greek political party (Golden Dawn), according to ESPN.
“Joking” about the appearance of West-Nile-carrying mosquitoes in Athens, she tweeted:
With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!
Three exclamation points. Really?
After the joke received a storm of backlash, Papachristou tweeted unapologetically:
That’s how I am. I laugh. I am not a CD [compact disc] to get stuck!!! And if I make mistakes, I don’t press the replay! I press Play and move on!!!
Right. Unless someone else presses Stop for you.
Like the Hellenic Olympic Committee, which yanked Papachristou for “statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
Think about that. An all-consuming dream, years of work, all shattered by a thoughtless tweet. Whether you think it’s fair or not, you have to admit the gravity of it for her.
According to ESPN, the joke went out on a Sunday, and the “That’s how I am” tweet went out on Tuesday, then a complete reversal went out on Wednesday as the whole thing blew up and even Greek politicians were calling for Papachristou’s expulsion from the Games (although we don’t know their motivation—maybe just to get a few political points).
Her tweet Wednesday:
I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account…
It goes on for a couple of paragraphs. You can imagine the rest—it’s pretty rote. She’s sorry, she didn’t mean to offend anyone, she’s wholeheartedly against discrimination.
Too late, though. And probably too little, honestly.
I mean, maybe if she wasn’t tweeting support for an extreme right political party linked to hate crimes against immigrants in Greece by the Human Rights Watch, which describes Golden Dawn as “an unabashedly neo-fascist party with a logo reminiscent of the Nazi swastika.”
Uh-huh. Well then. So Papachristou is out.
And so is Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella for tweeting racial remarks about the South Korean team after the South Koreans beat the Swiss. A “bunch of Mongoloids” Morganella called them. Yeah, he’s gone too.
So why is all this stuff out there? Probably these views have always existed, but now they’re online for the whole world to see—and judge. Which could be a good thing.
Like I said (so condescendingly), people need guidance in the form of peer opinion. The whole of public opinion takes time to move forward (two steps forward, one step back)—there are always some stragglers hanging onto outdated beliefs.
(I’m sorry, but I refuse to validate haters or the opinions behind them, which I feel come almost entirely from ignorance and narrow-mindedness, rarely from true knowledge and empathy.)
In my opinion, these types of consequences could help reign in the public hating—something people should pay for, in court.
Read the rest in Thought Before Speech…