Roger Clemens, The 21st Century Wants a Word With You
Roger Clemens gets a ticket from me. I’m handing it to him next time I see him, likely when we’re playing darts and listening to Jim Croce.
Proving that the ability to throw a baseball does not necessarily correlate with enlightenment, the jolly one popped off a racist wisecrack today:
“Roger Clemens was discussing his future Tuesday at the Astros season opener when he responded to a question about his health after the World Baseball Classic with a comment that some might consider racially insensitive … he made a questionable comment when speaking about the devotion of the Japanese and South Korean fans.
“None of the dry cleaners were open, they were all at the game, Japan and Korea,” Clemens said. “So we couldn’t get any dry cleaning done out there, but I guess the neatest thing is that 50,000 of them were at Anaheim Stadium.””
I’m sure your first reaction, like mine, was: hilarious! I have never, ever in my life heard that one. Do you get it? See, Asians work in laundries!
I’m equally certain that your second reaction was: wait a second, isn’t the stereotype the Chinese laundry? Man, Roger can’t even get his racism right.
If you’re going to wade into the stereotype sewer, at least be sure you’ve got the correct address. Not since Ice Cube made his threat to kick Koreans’ “chop suey asses” has a public figure so brazenly permuted bigotry and inaccuracy.
Clemens gets more points than Cube, since he didn’t threaten to burn down any stores. But he also committed two unforgivable sins: being a jackass for no reason, and — worse — being unfunny about it. I mean, dry cleaning? If you’re willing to risk offending a wide swath of people, shouldn’t your one-liner elicit more than an eyeroll?
For some time, I have kicked around the idea of printing up fake tickets. For efficiency’s sake.
I would give these tickets out at parties or around town, sometimes to ignorant but well-meaning folks — those that announce proudly “I have black friends,” or say “Oriental”. It would save time and provide the individual with a handy quick-reference guide for home study. A sort of embarassment-prevention program.
There would be other, more strident tickets for more overt acts of racism. These wouldn’t have the “Hey, maybe you should consider this” tone of the aforementioned, but more of a “Please, for the sake of all your fellow white people, stop saying things like this. The next time I meet an Asian person, I do not want them thinking that the strange thoughts that run through your deranged melon also bounce around in mine.”
When I meet Clemens at the next White People Convention, I’m going to blow my whistle, check a box, and give him the inaugural ticket. “Nothing personal,” I’ll tell him, “but you’re making us all look bad here.”
Okay, this isn’t going to happen. White people don’t all gather together at a convention, just like Asian people don’t all work at laundries, and the Indian guy you meet at a party probably doesn’t know the Indian guy you knew back in Cleveland. So I’ll have to hope for another solution.
While I’m not a believer in karma as literal truth, and I certainly don’t wish any physical harm to the future Hall of Famer, a fitting end to this saga might involve the yakuza setting up a dry cleaning front operation in Texas and waiting for him to come in. Just waiting.
Patiently and politely. You know, like Asians do.