Jeff Pearlman

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Chris Broussard is embarrassing himself

Guts.

Back during the Civil Rights era, certain ignorant tools became well known for their nonstop opposition of equality. Even today, a half-century later, the names roll off the tongue like chunks of bitter herbs.

George Wallace.

Bull Connor.

Justice Jim Johnson.

Strom Thurmond.

Ross Barnett.

On and on and on the list goes—men whose words and deeds at the time have left generations of contemporaries and ancestors to try and protect any lingering morsels of what once was, perhaps, a good name.

Because he is but a loud, annoying sports commentator, ESPN’s Chris Broussard cannot be grouped with the likes of the above men, all of whom possessed genuine power to, oh, block the entrance to a university or, say, spray down protesters with fire hoses. With his voice and his network gig, however, Broussard (known, without merit, as an NBA “insider”) can speak authoritatively, and have people take his opinions to heart. When he says Dwight Howard should stay in Los Angeles, folks listen. When he says the Knicks can’t hang with the Heat, folks listen.

When he says gays are immoral sinners who can’t call themselves real Christians, well, folks listen.

This is pretty much what happened today, when ESPN—the network famous for loving powerful opinions until those powerful opinions turn embarrassing—allowed Broussard to appear on the nation’s television screens and say, um, this …

For the record, I’m a fan of freedom of speech. Chris Broussard is certainly entitled to his opinions, and if ESPN wants him to state them, well, mazel tov!

I too, however, am entitled to my opinion—and my opinion is that Broussard is a moron. On a day when the first openly gay active American athlete (from a team sport) courageously comes out of the closet, Broussard reacts by … giving us a lecture on homosexuality and sinfulness? Really? Not a lecture on courage, or guts, or what surely must have been a tough decision—but sinfulness? Really?

In journalism, there’s an old-school rule that all the good ones try to follow: Report what you know to be true. Not what you think is true, not what you believe to be true, not what the Bible tells you is true. What. You. KNOW. Is. True. Guys like Chris Broussard do not know that God hates gays. Hell, guys like Chris Broussard do not even know—with 100-percent certainty—that God exists. He thinks he knows. He’s pretty sure he knows. But the same can be said of Jews; of Muslims; of Hindus; of atheists; of hundreds of other religions. The truth is, no one can be completely certain, unless he’s delusional or drugged.

So, minus certainty, how can one go on national television and—on a day of something monumental (whether you support Collins or not)—tell us being gay is wrong, and Collins is a sinner?

Personally speaking, I don’t believe in God. However, if He does exist, here are a couple of things I’m guessing to be true:

1. He wouldn’t create gays to hate gays.

2. He wouldn’t love the idea of one of His so-called followers going on TV to judge another.

3. He would admire courage; Jason Collins-esque courage.

As I do.

  • Chris Byrne

    There is a careful line you have to tread here Jeff. If he had just said homosexuality is a sin, then you might be right to say he had a biased rant. What he did say was that he considered all forms of sexual behavior outside of marriage to be a sin, which is the position of many churches. The bigger question is if this type of opinion had any relevance to today’s big story, and it did not. From this perspective he should have said whether or not he thought it was a courageous act or not, and then shut his yap. He could have done this without espousing his personal religious beliefs.

  • I’m sure Chris Broussard also believes in Deut. 25:11 which states, “When two men are fighting and the wife of one of them intervenes to drag her husband clear of his opponent, if she puts out her hand and catches hold of the man by his privates, you must cut off her hand and show her no mercy.”

    Hand checks for all wives with battling husbands!

  • Arnold Woods

    The fact that Broussard thinks that being gay is sinful also shows a poor understanding of the Bible. Most of the Bible passages that allegedly condemn homosexuality have been severely misinterpreted to reach that result. Leviticus, which most people use to condemn homosexuality also approves of slavery, requires children who curse their parents to be put to death, requires adulterers to be put to death, and prohibits tattoos, haircuts, and eating shellfish, among other things. Mankind has gotten beyond all the others, so seems like we should get beyond Leviticus’ antipathy towards homosexuals. If we are going to hold people to all the Bible standards, I’d be willing to bet that Broussard’s lifestyle is just as “sinful.”

  • Daniel

    I thought Broussard was actually relatively articulate when it comes to this point. For him personally, as he reads the bible, homosexuality is a sin. Just as sex before marriage is a sin. He spoke from his heart about how he deals with the situation.

    When talking about LZ Granderson, he specifically said that he does not judge or tell anyone how to live their life. There’s something powerful in his ability to remain faithful to his religion, even when people are calling G-d into question, and still remain tolerant of what the bible says to be wrong.

    If anything, I listen to Broussard as someone who is able to reconcile trying to bring his book of faith into his daily life while also understanding obvious contradictions. Trying to do that is very tough in today’s world, and I thought Broussard handled himself well.

  • MikeB

    Actually, Chris Broussard is right. The essence of being a Christian, of being a true follower of Christ, is to heed Christ’s call to empty your life of yourself. Christ calls upon everyone to completely surrender their life to a life of selflessness, of service to others and service to God. Mother Theresa is the perfect example of what being a Christian is all about.

    If you understand this, then you will understand WHY abortion is a sin, and euthanasia is a sin, and contraception is a sin, and sex outside of wedlock is a sin, and deviant sex WITHIN MARRIAGE is a sin, etc. It is because any act that we undertake in order to satisfy our own selfish needs is sin, sin being defined as an act that leads us away from God. Saying that God condems sin doesn’t mean that we are saying “God hates gays,” any more than we are saying “God hates heterosexuals who fornicate outside of marriage.” God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.

    Whether you recognize it or not, you promote a social agenda that is fundamentally based on everyone’s RIGHT TO BE SELFISH. Fair enough. Promoting a Christian agenda is to promote a social agenda that encourages the promotion of a society of SELFLESSNESS.

    Finally Jeff, your comments are unfair to Broussard because you are taking his comments out of context. He was asked specifically about whether Collins’s devout Christianity can be reconciled with promoting homosexuality. Broussard gave a very legitimate answer to that specific question: it cannot.

    • Barry

      If you think Chris Broussard has never had sex out of marriage, never had sex except to procreate or never used a condom I have a bridge for sale you might like.

      • MikeB

        Non sequitur. The fact that Chris is a sinner does not mean that he doesn’t have the ability to recognize that he (or others) are committing sin. One of the tenets of Christianity is that we recognize we are all sinners, we sin every day. Our goal as Christians is to work every day to become less and less sinful, and we do this by trying to “empty our lives of ourselves.”

        Every time we choose our own interests over the interests of others, we sin by choosing to become self-centered rather than selfless.

  • Jeff

    Count me among the many who were suprised to learn that Jason Collins is still an active NBA player. I join Gay hoops fans in their disappointment that this wasn’t somebody better.

    As for Broussard, the man once “broke” stories reported on Twitter. His career, (which outlived his credibiliy by a couple of years), effectively ended tonight. I wouldn’t get too worked up over anything he has to say, nor would I regard him as any sort of spokesman for the billions of religious people walking the earth.

  • DG

    One thing that isn’t getting enough attention is why ESPN would even allow an on-air debate with a pro- and con- on this issue? Broussard is certainly entitled to his opinions, but why did ESPN feel the need to have him go on the air and combat LZ Granderson about the merits or reaction of having a gay player? It’s one thing if they wanted to report on the possible reaction around the league (which is news), but not the views of one of their employees.

    Also, it seems clear to everyone who pays attention to the NBA that Broussard basically rose to power by allowing prominent players’ camps to feed him information or misinformation and then reporting it as news. In that instance and in this one, Broussard has practiced subjective journalism, if it can be called journalism at all.

  • Bobby Fetter

    How can you and all of the media say what Collins did was courageous? If he really is so courageous, why was he previously engaged to a woman? Did he tell her the truth when he broke off the engagement? If he was so courageous, why did he wait until AFTER the season ended to come out? He should have done this during the season and then go out on the court and face the fans and other players. THAT would have been courageous. This is a journeyman player at the end of his career. His agents and David Stern will FORCE another tam to sign him just to be politically correct. This man is NOT Jackie Robinson. He had REAL courage. Jason Collins is an opportunist!

  • Tony

    Sigh. I take issue with many things that Jeff says in his typically ad hominem post about Broussard, who, to all appearances, seems like a decent, intelligent and decidedly un-polemical guy (maybe he’s cruel to puppies and the elderly off set), but whom Jeff labels as a “moron.” Classy touch equating Broussard — who expressed an opinion, in the most respectful way, based on the teachings of his faith — with Klansmen and guys who sprayed blacks with fire hoses.

    Question to Ponder: Wonder what Jeff would have called a devout Muslim who came on the show to discuss that faith’s rather more, um, punitive teachings about the homosexual lifestyle?

    Here again we see the tolerant, civil, open-to-reasoned-and respectful-debate-so-long-as-you-agree-with-them, liberal hive mind: “So, you oppose gay marriage and/or the homosexual lifestyle? Well then, you’re just like the guy who horse whipped LaVar Burton in “Roots”.”

    As a starting point, it is entirely disingenuous to pretend that Broussard got up on a soap box, all by himself, and decided to “lecture” everyone on the sinfulness of homosexuality. ESPN had Broussard come on a program to debate this issue, specifically because he is a professing Christian who also happens to be a sports journalist who works for the Worldwide Leader, and the host asked him questions designed to elicit his personal, religious beliefs. (Btw, Broussard did not focus his remarks solely on homosexuality, but on any open and unrepented sinful behavior, a point which Broussard was careful to emphasize but which seems to have escaped Jeff’s monomaniacal focus on all who differ from the Progressive Creed on the Groovy Wonderfulness of the Gay Lifestyle.)

    So, let’s stop feigning indignation that Broussard had the temerity and phobic insensitivity to rain on the Gay Pride parade, when he should have been lauding Collins for his courage. ESPN wanted his opinion on this issue, and he gave it, in a measured and respectful way. Disagree all you want with his beliefs, but don’t pretend he took it upon himself to stir up controversy or to be uncharitable towards Collins.
    I don’t think any fair minded person — read: not Jeff — could watch that entire interview and conclude that Broussard was being disrespectful to Collins, or to gays in general.

    Second, what is this nonsensical babble about “journalists”
    and “reporting what one knows is true”? (As an aside, the fact that Jeff still thinks that publications like the Newspaper of Record adhere to this standard is risible, but that’s a debate for another day.) Does Jeff think that Broussard was on this show to “report” about “facts”? Of course he doesn’t, but it’s fun to erect straw men and knock them down. Broussard was asked to discuss his personal beliefs, in the context of a news story about a gay athlete, and he did so. Now, if Jeff wants to take the absurdist position that since no one can empirically, for sure, demonstrate the existence of God, then a good “journalist” should never be willing to discuss issues of faith and theology (other than to debunk them, of course), he’s welcome to make that argument, and I will laugh at him.

    Now, let’s talk a bit about courage. I would argue that what Broussard did — going on a show to talk openly about his Christian faith, on a hot button issue where his beliefs are actively scorned, mocked, and detested by enlightened and deep thinking people like Jeff, and Charles Pierce and pretty much every one of his peers in the progressively homogenous ESPN mono-culture — took real guts. I have no doubt that he will face more professional ostracism than will Collins for saying what he said. Sure, I get that in the testosterone zone that is the professional locker room, there are going to be guys who look askance at Collins. But the popular culture has so embraced homosexuality, that “coming out” these days is not quite the act of bravery that Jeff makes it out to be. Frankly, most folks simply don’t care; they’re too busy living their own lives. Further, Collins is going to be feted and lauded and given warm tongue baths by the fawning, homo-phile media for months on end. Will there be some sidelong glances, some uncomfortable moments, some people who don’t accept him? Probably. Welcome to life. Welcome to life as a person who stands up for something, like, say, a Christian.

  • Herm Edwards

    http://holyculture.net/blog/2009/04/04/my-take-on-john-amaechi-by-chris-broussard/

    Please read this article for a more complete view of Chris Broussard’s views on homosexuality.

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