I debated on writing this. I don’t want to drag a MSU player through the mud any more than they already have. But I also want MSU fans to know who is covering your team for the Clarion Ledger. I will try to keep this as tied into MSU sports as I can but it may get political, however, I will try to stay as objective as I can in that regard.
As you probably know by now, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year has announced his sexual preference. It was littered all over the media on Sunday night. Mississippi State TE turned O-lineman Rufus Warren tweeted his opinions on the matter. Clarion-Ledger beat reporter Mike Bonner saw it fit to tweet a screen shot of Warren’s tweets based on his view that they were abusive. He then re-tweeted Warren’s apology. Let’s dive in.
1.0 – Warren should not have tweeted his personal feelings about homosexuals playing football. To be clear: he said he has “no problem with gay people” and “big props to him…takes a lot to come out”…but said he looks down on gay football players. This isn’t, and shouldn’t be, about Warren or any other player’s view on homosexual football players. The point here is that Rufus should know better than to put his opinions in a public forum for public consumption.
2.0 – Bonner went out of his way to tweet a screenshot of Warren’s comments. Warren’s twitter account goes by the handle “@2_amazing” and the username “1/2 Man 1/2 Amazing”. He only has 1,008 followers when most players have at least a couple thousand. That’s because no one knows who he is one twitter. I didn’t. How could I derive from @2_amazing and 1/2 man 1/2 amazing that the account was Rufus Warren? I am sure many, many other MSU fans and fans of other schools had no idea. But Mike Bonner knows who he is, and he made sure to let his 6,600 twitter followers know exactly what a MSU football player had to say about homosexual football players. This was re-tweeted 58 times, mostly by Ole Miss fans and media types.
3.0 – Warren did not stand by his comments. He deleted them, hence the need for a screenshot. It would be one thing if Rufus said that’s the way he feels and you’re just going to have to deal with it. He didn’t. He was probably sitting on his couch, heard the news and gave his take. Once he realized it was a mistake, he deleted them. But Bonner dug them out of the grave to show the skeletons to everyone.
4.0 – I’ll leave my personal opinions out of it. I’ll ask that you do the same and look at this from the perspective of how MSU should view it. They have three options this morning:
- get mad at Rufus
- get mad at Bonner
- ignore it
My guess is they’ll tell Rufus not to do that again, make a note to tell other players the same, then ignore it. I’d advocate that they do all of the former but not the latter. Something should be done about a reporter who strictly covers MSU who goes out of his way to bring potentially offensive comments made by a MSU player to light. The SIDs and administration need to have a serious discussion about what can be done to ensure this type of thing does not happen again. I understand that if a player doesn’t tweet it that would solve this problem – but it goes further than that to any type of interaction that could be publicized, whether it be caught on tape, written, behind closed doors, etc. MSU beat reporters need to know what is a story and what needs to go in their back pocket.
5.0 – I asked Bonner why he felt the need to do this….
I do not believe this was all about “reporting the news” related to MSU sports. I’m sure his editor at the C-L is tickled pink he caught this misstep by a MSU player. But this goes further than simply capturing a reaction. It’s an agenda. In a response to a follower later in the night Bonner defended himself saying, “any abuse [Michael Sam] takes is completely a disgrace”.
Here’s what that tells me – Michael Bonner was offended by Warren’s remarks. He feels as though Warren was abusing Sam for being a homosexual football player.
That’s fine, but by the same token that Warren shouldn’t let his opinions loose in a public forum because of his position, Bonner shouldn’t either. While his initial tweet was framed in such a way as to try to maintain objectivity, this later response reveals his true feelings. He didn’t like Warren’s reaction so he unnecessarily attempted to throw him under the bus.
6.0 – What is the goal here? The ideal of being “tolerant” is built on intolerance of people who oppose the view of the ones preaching tolerance. If you shame enough people for their opposing view they will eventually refrain from commenting. It’s hypocritical at best.
Maybe not at the forefront of his mind, but in the recesses of his ideals Bonner knows that if a story like this can blow up enough Warren could face punishment. If enough of a focus was placed on MSU – enough pressure to force their hand, Warren could be made an example of. This is the main ingredient of the thought police….if there are consequences for the opposing view then the opposing view will be erased.
7.0 – Nothing Rufus Warren or Mike Bonner did was wrong. They are each entitled to their own opinion. There is still freedom of speech in this country. The consequences that may arise from using that freedom of speech come from those who with the loudest opposing view. Bonner staked his claim to what he believed was wrong. Now allow me…
8.0 – Mississippi State should create their own set of consequences for Bonner’s public opinion. His lynching of a MSU player should not go unpunished. We have to stick together as a MSU family. Your brother may not always be right, but you always defend them. We cannot allow an outsider into our quarters only to bring us down. Take a stance, Mississippi State athletics. Make sure anyone who sees fit to do us harm is not rewarded, but punished.
Bonner even published it today in the Clarion-Ledger. Not only that, but he embedded a tweet from a parody account of Michael Sam (update: he deleted that, I guess I embarrassed him). Ace reporting, bro.