Here’s a retread of the same old story. A famous person says something offensive and follows it up with, “I didn’t know it was offensive.”
A professional esports player, Tassal “Tass” Rushan, was recently suspended indefinitely by Electronic Arts from FIFA 19 tournaments for saying the word “fag” in a YouTube video. Essentially, Tass was frustrated at this player he kept picking randomly in his game and said: “We’re seeing this fucking fag again,” which is probably what the waitresses say to each other in Thai when I show up to my favorite restaurant every week.
In a follow-up video released a few days later, Tass issued an apology for using the word, saying that he thought the word was used like “prick or idiot,” and claimed to be unaware of the homophobic connotations it has. At first, I thought Tass was blatantly lying; I mean how could anyone be that unaware of their surroundings and like basic cultural history? Then I remembered that a week ago, Megyn Kelly didn’t understand when blackface became offensive. These people exist.
In complete fairness to Tass, his apology seemed entirely genuine. I really believe that somehow he never understood the word “fag” as a slur. However, just as Tass notes in his apology, that doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. Nothing shows more privilege than being criminally unaware, just look at how much space white men take up when they’re waiting for their coffee. Tass suggests that part of this mix-up is because in London, people don’t use the word to mean anything homophobic. “But internationally,” he says, “I should have been aware [of] the meaning of the word and how it could be perceived and I didn’t. So that’s my fault.”
Even though Tass gets that he messed up and understands why EA made their decision to suspend him, the fans seem to think that EA overreacted.
“Banned for calling a virtual card a word,” one video comment reads.
“Welcome to 2018’s political correctness,” reads another.
And frankly, no one should be surprised at this reaction. Remember the last time a professional in the gaming community said fag? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Back in July, Twitch banned professional streamer Mohamad “m0E” Assad for saying the same word, but his reaction was… different, to say the least.
“I’m going to try to stop saying faggot, but it’s one of my favorite words of all time,” m0E said on stream. “It’s not a bad word. It has a lot of meanings.”
People he was streaming with told him that the word was offensive, but then explained that they use the r-word to make fun of people. “Same,” m0E concluded. “I use the word ‘faggot’ to call people retards.”
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at the fact that anyone can have a platform, but I’m screaming either way. No wonder Tass’ fans react the way they do; Tass’ apology is the exception, m0E’s is the standard.
I often say that people messing up is not as important to me as how they react after they’ve been called out. Maybe I’m too forgiving, but we’re all learning and while I think it’s completely justified if people stay angry at someone who fucks up like this, I just don’t have the energy. If people have good intentions and are willing to learn, I’m willing to teach.
I mean really, scroll up and look at m0E’s comments again — this is what we’re dealing with within the gaming community. Play a game of competitive Overwatch and your standards are literally in the toilet. “You just told that guy that he ‘sounds gay’? Well, at least you’re not saying the n-word — I’ll take it.”
I guess what I’m saying is that Tass can say “fag.”
No, I’m kidding, please don’t @ me.
Image via Getty