Doug Adler’s ‘Gorilla’ Lawsuit Against ESPN Now Officially A Political Football
You say guerrilla and I say gorilla, let's call the whole thing off.
As you may know, tennis commentator Doug Adler is suing ESPN for firing him. His attorney filed the lawsuit against ESPN in Los Angeles Superior Court on Valentine's Day (how sweet), and charges that the network bowed to social media pressure in dismissing him. Damn you, Twitter! (Note: we still love you). (Hearts emoji).
Ten-second background graph: During Venus Williams' second-round match vs. Stefanie Vögele at the Australian Open last month, Alder described Williams thus: “You’ll see Venus move in, and put the guerrilla effect on. Charging.”
At least that's what Adler says he meant. ESPN and many viewers heard the word as "gorilla", and were outraged that he would use a word derogatory toward African-Americans. Adler, a former All-American at USC, was canned by the network.
At the time, Adler apologized and said that it was "a poor choice of words."
A month later: This means guerra (war, in Spanish).
OK, all well and good -- let the courts decide whether he meant gorilla or guerrilla. I love a good battle over the awkward English language, and when ESPN is involved, all the better. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, do your stuff.
But here's the problem: the controversy has been picked up by people with political agendas, and that ruins things for everyone. Dog whistle right-wing apologists such as Clay Travis of Fox Sports and syndicated radio host Larry Elder are slamming ESPN for exhibiting vile political correctness. Elder has even been known to drag good ol' Charlie Brown into his messes:
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) July 8, 2016
BOYCOTT @ESPN ...
these libnerds are idiots for firing tennis commentator, Doug Adler...for nothing...quit watching & paying for ESPN !!!
— k stevenson (@ksauburn) January 27, 2017
But was it an overreaction by the left that brought the issue to light in the first place?
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 19, 2017
— Shanna (@PinaCocoblog) January 18, 2017
— Josh H (@JoshHo8) January 19, 2017
So the battle lines are drawn along political lines, as they inevitably always are these days. Sad!
My assessment is simple: a veteran commentator should know that using a word like guerrilla/gorilla when describing the play of an African-American woman is a minefield either way. Avoid the word entirely, knucklehead. And on the other side, if Venus isn't worked up about it, you probably shouldn't be either.
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