Social media has a strong presence among celebrities in 2013, and former Steelers receiver, Mike Wallace, is a celebrity (in a professional athlete sort of way), so it's only natural that he would share his views on a controversial subject via twitter, and it's only natural that people would strongly react.
The controversial subject in this case is journeyman NBA player, Jason Collins, coming out as the first openly gay active player in a major professional sports league.
It's a tremendous revelation by Collins, especially considering the dominant culture in most male sports locker rooms. How many players have made stupid homophobic remarks after being asked if an openly gay athlete would be accepted in their locker rooms? I'm sure you can guess the kind of comments I'm referring to--no sense trying to go back and find them on the Internet.
With that in mind, Wallace is the latest athlete to come under fire for a homophobic remark when, following Collins' admission on Monday, he tweeted: "All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys. SMH."
Wallace later went on to tweet: "I'm not bashing anybody don't have anything against anyone I just don't understand it." And finally, he tweeted: "Never said anything was right or wrong I just said I don't understand!! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended."
In terms of gay-bashing, I'd say Wallace's comments were pretty benign. But in terms of stupidity, Wallace's comments were pretty dumb, if only because he should have known people would react to them and call him homophobic.
I'll take the same stance I took with Ravens' quarterback, Joe Flacco, when he came under fire for saying "retarded" during a press-conference in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. People reacted negatively to Flacco, and rightfully so--when you're on that kind of stage, you really need to watch everything that comes out of your mouth--but my retort to that was, how many of us hear ordinary people use the word on a daily basis and never give them grief for it?
Same thing with gay-jokes or gay-bashing. How many ordinary people do that everyday? Tonight, I'll be going to play pick-up volleyball and basketball with a group of guys I know through my boss. And knowing those guys like I do, I almost guarantee there will be gay slurs and homophobic remarks flying around like sharp elbows from Robert Parrish or Bill Laimbeer.
I probably won't call any of them on it and tell them what they're saying is wrong. So for me to go on twitter and criticize Wallace for what he said would be a bit hypocritical.
And for any of you out there in Internet Land (especially those of you who like to engage in sports debates on blogs and message boards), how many of you use the word "homo" or "fa@@ot" when either talking about a professional athlete or when insulting a fellow sports fan you are having a disagreement with?
Mike Wallace should have known better (why any celebrity would tweet anything even remotely controversial is beyond me), but remember to also criticize your friend the next time he or she makes a homophobic remark.