On Lars Sullivan and Racism at work

Do I expect WWE to fire Lars Sullivan over his racist/sexist/homophobic comments? Probably not. I have not read them all but I’ve seen a few, but unless there’s language in the contract he signed that gives them room to do it then they’re likely risking a lawsuit that they may not come out on top of. If it doesn’t get any bigger than a Twitter story then my guess is that they ride it out so long as he doesn’t do anything else, then when his contract is up they’ll make a decision and if he’s not making them any money he’s out. That’s one of those cold, calculating corporate decisions that you’re better off not digging into about any company you patronize, unless you don’t mind being disappointed. But in his case the ball was dropped either before signing him or early on into his time there. If it’s fireable now it was fireable then and the fact that they didn’t do it earlier will probably not do them any favors in a courtroom. So they blew it, and I’m guessing that unless the public outcry gets big enough then they’re not going to take the plunge here. And in general I’m kind of leery about firing people this way because if it becomes standard operating procedure you can bet it will be put to use in the future for matters a lot less serious but a lot more convenient.

OK now that I have that out of the way….

On a personal level as a black man hell yes I want him outta there. When you work somewhere with a lot of employees at some point you’re going to be working with or around somebody who is racist or sexist or homophobic (or maybe all three at the same time). That’s just simple probability, law of averages kind of stuff. I don’t expect any large group of people to not have somebody with some trash beliefs about other people. Now it’s one thing to not know who it is, but when they’ve outed themselves (And yes I know someone dug up his posts but when you comment on a public forum you’re outing yourself before anyone even gets to it. So think about that next time you’re about to do it Lars, you dumbass) then that adds an extra level of stress and aggravation to whatever you’re already dealing with. You gotta walk past this dude in the hallway, maybe sit next to him at meetings or whatever else while knowing for a fact that he said he hates you. And it makes you look at everyone else there different too because now you’re wondering who’s gonna be nicer to that dude than he deserves, and why they’re doing it. For some people there is no peace until that guy is gone.

But that was years ago!!! Why should he get punished now?

Answer me this: do you think he’s changed? Do you have any evidence that he’s changed? Is that a ‘no’ I just heard? I have a hard time believing that a 22 year old who said that stuff has, without any tangible evidence to show for it, magically changed how he feels on those matters. That’s not to say he can’t but I got no reason to give that dude the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t innuendo or some rando commenting on Reddit about something they supposedly heard through the grapevine; no, this dude put it in a public forum for everyone to see. Sorry but in the words of another guy who got busted for saying some racist stuff, that’s not gonna work for me brother. Now I’ve said how from a corporate standpoint I wouldn’t expect him to be fired for this, but on a personal level I don’t have to give that guy anything but basic workplace good manners if we’re in the same company.

As a society we have allowed racists, sexists, homophobes, and every other kind of bigot or menace way too much comfort. The man said that stuff in a public forum because he obviously felt like it was safe to. You don’t say there’s a gray area when it comes to rape if you don’t think the bros who are in the same circle feel the same way, or that it’s an accepted view out there (unfortunately in a lot of spaces it is). Let’s not get it twisted; dude told on himself . And as far as it being in the past….well, some of the people who’ve committed some real heinous acts recently have left behind digital proof of their beliefs going back years. I’m sorry but unless the people who have to deal with him every day come out and say that he’s proven to them that he’s ok then I have to go on my own suspicions for now.

We’re not talking about liking or retweeting someone else’s social media post or some other thing that can be interpreted one way or another, or trying to make a joke and saying something out of bounds that you have to apologize for. We’re talking about racist, sexist, and homophobic words that he felt safe to use in public. As someone who is part of one of the groups he was speaking on, I don’t owe him any benefit of the doubt without any proof he’s changed or at the very least some kind of vouching for him from someone who’s around him now that doesn’t come off as forced or a hostage video situation.

But don’t you believe in second chances?

Let’s go back to my previous question: Do you think he’s changed? You don’t know? Me neither, so my answer in this case is no. Again he didn’t just make some insensitive statement here. He didn’t say make some dopey attempt at humor, like making a black people love basketball joke or say ‘women be shopping’, ok? Sticking to my personal wheelhouse here, when somebody outs themselves as racist, they’re not just saying they don’t like black people. They’re saying you don’t deserve the same rights as them, don’t deserve the same jobs, the same salaries, to live in the same neighborhood, etc. as they do. So if that’s how you feel you can get gone already. It’s never simply a matter not liking us, whatever that means. And the same logic applies to women, other people of color, members of the LGBT community, etc. That’s a whole lot to ask for absolution for. Whether he stays employed there or not no one has to be nice to him now because it was when he was younger or because he apologized. They all have every right to have nothing for that dude other than basic professionalism.

Every time something like this happens the onus is put on the targets or in the worst cases victims to forgive, absolve, and even befriend the perpetrator. But we’re not in one of those dopey movies where the kindly black person goes on to befriend the racist and they both learn that people are people, friendship is magic, or any of that other stuff. Earlier this week somebody asked Big E on Twitter if he knew about Lars comments; whatever the intent was it looked to me as if the ball was being put in Big E’s court to pass judgement one way or the other. If you’re wondering why that’s a big deal it’s because there’s no limit to that kind of thing; some of the people who survived Dylan Roof’s racist shooting spree in South Carolina were asked on national TV if they forgave him. Instead of asking the victims or targets how they feel about the person, all while hoping for the kumbaya answer in return, how about you think about just how it might feel to have to be around someone that said those kind of things out in the open all while being expected to perform your duties professionally? And add in the context of all the different racist, sexist, and homophobic comments that these folks are getting every day to boot. Those aren’t just dopes on social media; one of the dopes is standing next to them every day.

Let me close by asking one more question: if you want him absolved so quickly and easily…….why is it so important that he gets that? Way too many of these dudes get quick career rehabilitations almost as soon as the ink dries on their dismissal papers. Mel Gibson was persona non grata in some corners of Hollywood after his racist and anti-Semitic rant but now he’s back in the fold after some token apologies. Guys like Matt Lauer and Mark Halperin, run out of their media gigs for sexual harassment, have been plotting and trying to network their way back into the business because hey, it would just be a shame if guys who can’t keep their hands to themselves at work had to go without seven or eight figure jobs for the rest of their lives. Stop feeling sorry for these dudes and show some more empathy for the people they come after instead! If Lars does get fired he’ll get a gig with some other company AND they’ll promote him as ‘former WWE superstar Lars Sullivan’; he’s gonna be fine regardless so we don’t have to start playing the tiny violin for him today.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s