Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't Make Fun of Buffalo

Maybe you've seen it, maybe you haven't. The gist of the story is that an Albany Times Union columnist (Jennifer Gish) wrote a post essentially telling Bills fans to stop being so damn happy after they beat the Raiders and moved to 2-0. I just learned about the piece now, so I'm a little behind.

As with a lot of theses stories, it continues past the original article into something greater. A little Internet 101: what did the anonymous bastards do? Why yes they picked on the fact that Gish is a woman and called her a slew of misogynist names. Very good! After the excessive dropping of c-words and k-words (rhymes with itchin'), Gish penned another column basically complaining about her treatment (invalid!) and the treatment of women who work in sports (valid!). Let me say this very clearly, people didn't pick on Gish because she's a woman. They picked on her because she wrote something completely asinine. The fact that she's a woman was simply the most convenient thing to harp on for a lot of people that wanted to piss Gish off as much as they'd been pissed off by her. It's like when Michael Richards flipped out on a bunch of black guys, "these people are REALLY pissing me off, what can I say to return the favor? Oh, I know..." Does that make it right? No. But I also don't think it makes Michael Richards a racist.

My comment to Gish was essentially this: Buffalo is the nerdy kid in high school that all the jocks (columnists) pick on when they get bored. She came in and started griping about how people were too happy about how the Bills have started their most promising season in a decade. Why was she surprised when the little nerdy kid decided he was sick of the jock's shit and started throwing punches? "Hey you play in Canada, you might move, you haven't beaten the Patriots in forever, you won't this week!" It's not surprising Bills fans assaulted her over the internet. (Again that doesn't make it right.) And you might be asking yourself, "what's the difference between Gish's column, and say making fun of the Rangers, the Red Wings, or Bandwagon fans?" Won a cup in my lifetime, won 30 cups in my life time and haven't missed the playoffs in 20 years, and roots for teams that have won cups in my lifetime. It's the same reason I can't bring myself to hate the leafs until they start beating us consistently.

Unfortunately lost amid all this nonsense is a very real problem, that female journalists are often treated like shit just because they're women. At least Gish tried to steer this whole situation towards that, even if she failed completely. As much as she tried to make the moral of the story "keep up hope girls, one day it'll get better," the actual moral is "don't fall back on being a minority because you did something stupid. It makes you look that much worse and sets your gender back even further. Acknowledge that you might have been in error because it will gain you that much more respect." The Columbia Missourian understood this when columnist Alex Ruppenthal shit all over the city of Buffalo during last year's NCAA tournament. They said "we're sorry, some people may have been offended, we'll leave the article up to maintain credibility and let the readers decide if things were in poor taste." Gish talks about ribbing being "a part of being a columnist" but seems to forget the accountability part. Instead of being arrogant and thinking that your shit doesn't stink, every once in a while you have to take a look at yourself and realize that if everyone thinks you wrote something awful...then you probably wrote something awful, even if you don't think so. As they say, perception is reality.

Calling Gish a c--- and telling her to get back in the kitchen is sleazy to the nth degree, but it doesn't automatically make her a decent writer, or a victim. I'm all for more female sportswriters, and I think that influx is coming eventually. As much as I believe in equality, women are a different gender and thus have a different perspective on things. But that's good, it's good and it's very intriguing, especially for us hockey fans. As a sport that often gets the short end of the stick, opening the doors to women (and other minorities) to an extent that no one else has will give us an edge. And we need all of them that we can get.

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