For the past 50 or so years, the scourge of racial bigotry has been dying. Unfortunately, a new (albeit weaker) wave of illogical thinking, one of extreme idiocy, sensitivity, and taboo, has been emerging at the same time. Last week, these two terrible trends met, right before the Olympics, as triple-jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off of the Greek team for tweeting the following:”So many Africans in Greece…at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade cooking”.
Her comment seems hateful and xenophobic at first glance, especially given her association with the racist, Nazi-sympathizing political group known as Golden Dawn. On the other hand, such a remark, even copied word-for-word, need not necessarily be construed offensively. Intent is key, and a remark of this caliber may have been meant as a joke appealing to a somewhat dark sense of humor. The intent of the actual comment is not unequivocally clear, there is probable cause to believe that she harbors xenophobic, possibly racist views, but we cannot be certain.
Throwing ambiguity aside, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Voula Papachristou is a bigot, a fascist who wants all Africans (and possibly all immigrants) out of Greece. Regardless of her stance, the Greek Olympic Committee made a big flop by throwing her off of the team.
Let’s think this through: This woman was a triple jumper for the Greek Olympic team, not a politician. If she was sitting on a jury, then her comment would be grounds to boot her off. However, that wasn’t the case. She was tasked with performing in an athletic competition designed to a) foster international competition and b) profit off of ticket sales and TV revenue. Athletic ability is the only sensible criterion for selecting contestants for an Olympic team. If a team selects an individual with bigoted views, it likely does so because he/she is a good athlete, implying in no way that it approves of those views.
Following that logic, it only makes sense to expel players who violate the rules of the Games, perform poorly, or violate some other contractual obligation made by the athletes. Papachristou has done neither of those. She has likely trained, trained, and trained for years, made a stupid comment, and would not likely have been any worse an athlete for it. The best excuse the Committee could come up with for kicking her out was that her views “go against the spirit of the Games”.
Bullshit excuse, people. The Olympic Games are a sporting competition, and the expulsion of this already qualified athlete was nothing less than a shameless bow to the legions of politically correct (PC) crybabies who would call the team “racist” to no end were she not removed. Perhaps, on that note, the Greek team removed Papachristou merely because it did not want a public relations situation on its hands rather than because it could not tolerate undesirable views on the team.
This is not to assume that the Olympic Committee would not have kicked her off were the public not involved, (it probably would have), but politically correct people are very real. The PC will go up in arms over the smallest infraction upon their sense of emotional security, and when “I’m offended” becomes a legitimate excuse for people to come to the aid of the self-proclaimed “victim”, rational thought is the first thing to be thrown out the window.
Take the Anthony Weiner scandal, for instance. Last year, scores of Americans demanded (and eventually prompted) the resignation of a US Congressman over a few half-naked photos that he sent to consenting adult women over the Internet. Was Weiner doing anything illegal? No. Would Weiner’s actions have been considered highly abnormal for the average Joe? No. Did Weiner’s critics recognize their double standard? Hell no. Stupidity is powerful in numbers, and powerful objects tend to go wherever the hell they want.
Granted, we didn’t see the double standard of the Weiner affair in the Olympic expulsion, nor did Papachristou receive the same level of media coverage. The Olympics are on, and soon, nobody will care about Voula Papachristou. Regardless of the significance of the individual incident, however, it is but another symptom of the expanding taboo culture that I like to refer to as PC Syndrome.
Political correctness creates nothing more than more and more ridiculous taboos, ranging from people suffering public relations hellfire to losing their jobs, all for insignificant offenses. PC is stupid, and fighting stupidity requires common sense. People like Papachristou say stupid and bigoted things, but a mere statement like deserves little consequence or recognition. So, fine, reprimand people for hateful comments, but there’s a limit to what qualifies as a reasonable response.