“You’re The Dog”

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto—how I miss his blog!— famously wrote of accusations that something was a “racist dog whistle”:

“The thing we adore about these dog-whistle kerfuffles is that the people who react to the whistle always assume it’s intended for somebody else. The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you’re the dog.”

Bingo. In the last week we have seen two particularly vivid examples of this phenomenon. The most recent is peak Great Stupid: the World Health Organization announced  that it will begin referring to monkeypox as “mpox.” Why? Well, there were complaints that its name constituted “racist and stigmatizing language.”  Yes,  all it takes to make WHO jump is complaints from morons, or perhaps power-seeking activists who want to see how easily they can bend organizations to their will, just to prove they can.

WHO says that “both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out.” Wow! This is considered so important they even have long term plan. When did the word “monkey” become a racial slur when it wasn’t used as a racial slur? I suppose we can now expect that news media and polite people will only refer to the term as the “m-word,” like the U.N. health agency. We know how this goes, don’t we? Next this song will be branded as a racist anthem:

..and THAT will mean that Debbie Reynolds will be “cancelled” as racist, along with her most famous movie, “Singin’ in the Rain,” thus making all of its stars, including Gene Kelly, politically incorrect as well. The superb film salute to MGM in which the ugly m-word song appears, “That’s Entertainment!” will also be condemned henceforth.

Zoos won’t be able to include monkeys or other primates among their residents either. Obviously, such exhibits are sly references to the good old days when  exhibits at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri and the Bronx Zoo in 1906 had an African Pygmy, Ota Benga, on display. Ota was actually put in the zoo’s Monkey House.

Politico reported that senior officials in the Biden administration had been pressing officials at the agency to change the name, threatening that the US would act unilaterally if it didn’t move fast enough. These awful people see racism in all things, or pretend they do to keep American blacks feeling oppressed, insulted, angry  and insecure. The only people I know of who associate monkeys with blacks are the most virulent, hopelessly bigoted racists, like the followers of the racist website Chimpmania who I regularly block from commenting on Ethics Alarms….well, them, and the dog-whistle fantasists on MSNBC and in the Biden Administration.

A few days before, former NBA star Lamar Odom, one of many prominent black celebrities married and discarded by one of the Kardashian sisters (who seem to regard them as disposable accessories to juice their TV ratings), went on “The Bootleg Kev Podcast,” hosted by hip-hop on-air personality and host Bootleg Kev. Odom insisted that the Phoenix Suns’ famous mascot, pictured above, was obviously thinly-veiled racist denigration.

“Come on, bro,” he said. “The thing that’s funny is they kind of slid that one by for all these years. Nobody says anything about that. Gorillas, in the desert, you can’t find any. You could probably find a cactus. … In basketball, just like, come on, bro. But you know what’s so, really crazy about it? They just tried it because they wanted to get the fans involved, and that’s the reason why they kept it ’cause the fans loved it.”

Now who can argue with logic like that?

The fans love the Suns Gorilla because, most of all, whoever has worn the outfit has excelled at gymnastic slam dunks like the one in the picture. I’ve seen those videos for decades, and never once did I associate the gorilla with race, because, uh, the mascot has nothing whatsoever to do with race. The other reason the mascot is popular is that gorilla suits are inherently funny. They have been a comic staple since Burlesque. They were used for comic effect in the “Road” movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, by the Three  Stooges, by Abbott and Costello, in the Eddie Murray comedy “Trading Places,” and in the Broadway musical “Cabaret,” among many other plays, TV shows and movies.  I love them: someone wearing a gorilla suit was on my list of things I wanted to put on stage before my directing days were over, and I checked it off, twice! (A chicken suit wish is also on my list, alas, unfulfilled.) Nobody suggested the gorilla suit was racist, because it wasn’t, and isn’t.

But watch the Suns grovel an apology and replace the gorilla because all someone has to do in the Age of the Great Stupid to make something racist is to call it racist. These recent efforts are particularly ironic and sad, because those who think of black human beings when they see monkey, gorillas or equivalents thereof are the ones whose racial perceptions are warped, and those who publicize their delusions are spreading racist attitudes rather than curing them.


13 thoughts on ““You’re The Dog”

  1. Idiotic!

    If you team is the Suns, what is your mascot going to be.

    I know of what I speak. The Minnesota Twins has a Bear as the mascot and the Vikings had a frickin’ purple dinosaur for a while.

    I kinda have to give the Twins a pass because the Twins would actually require two mascots.

    But, the Vikings? It would seem that they could come up with something better than a purple dinosaur–a gorilla would have been an improvement, or even a VIKING!


  2. The Colorado Rockies have a Triceratops as a mascot, the subject of a previous EA post, named “Dinger”. But that mascot is at least related to the team because excavators found a Triceratops skull or something when they built the Rockies ballpark. Notwithstanding the tie-in, even poor Dinger was tagged as racist-adjacent in a really stupid episode here.
    My father coached for the Vikings for almost three decades, and he would have died laughing at a dinosaur mascot in any color. The Vikes have a perfectly good mascot in the form of a pillaging barbarian. Perhaps the team was trying to avoid the ire of certain Minnesota types who might decry the lack of diversity in your average longship.

  3. I would simply like to remind all of when Thomas Nast portrayed Irish immigrants as apes. Over reaction from easily offended, always offended individuals.

  4. Ah, the Gorilla. I’ve lived in Phoenix since 1981, by which time the Suns Gorilla was a well-established feature of any Suns home game. It is my understanding that the Gorilla made his first appearance at The Madhouse on McDowell, Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the Arizona State Fair Grounds on the edge of downtown Phoenix and the home of the Suns until the advent of skyboxes necessitated a luxurious new arena further downtown, as a guy delivering a pizza to someone in the stands who had a habit of dressing up in various outfits to make his job a little more interesting. I recently heard from OB, Jr. that it was evidently a guy delivering a candygram or a singing telegram or something. In any event, the Gorilla’s first appearance was not anything in which the Suns organization had any involvement whatsoever. It was essentially a random event. But the fans evidently thought the Gorilla was hilarious, and he was also an Arizona State gymnast. The Gorilla is also pretty darned funny and an entertaining mime. Of course, the Gorilla dates to the 1970s when Ted Giannoulis (GREEK guy, Jack!) was the incomparable and pioneering San Diego Chicken, a mascot that will never be approached, never mind equaled or exceeded.

    As even woke OB, Jr. said, “Lamar Odom is a knucklehead.” If Suns fans are racists, why are they so enamored of Connie Hawkins, Walter Davis, Kevin Johnson, Charles Barkeley, Eddie Johnson, Mark West, Dennis Johnson, Shawn Marion, Devin Booker and Dandre Ayton? The only white guy on the current roster is Dario Saric, you know, the obligatory white player the NBA has to go to Croatia to find. The head coach, Montie Williams, is black, as is the GM and new president of basketball operations, James Jones.

    And by the way, the Gorilla has always had a great deal of self-respect and carried himself in a dignified, completely human manner. He never, ever scratches his armpits or goes “Ooh! Ooh!” or slouches or drags his knuckles. He’s a stand-up guy, literally and figuratively. Case in point: when they were high school age and full of themselves, one of O.B. Jr.’s friends and classmates (who now writes for TV shows in LA) verbally accosted the Gorilla in a hallway in a snotty, disrespectful manner. The Gorilla literally almost got in a fight with Scott but thought better of it. I’m pretty sure he could have decked Scott if he’d chosen to.

    • I really doubt the Suns Gorilla will be cancelled. The fans wouldn’t put up with it. I’m pretty sure Charles Barkeley would have something to say about it on the TNT broadcast if they tried it.

      • Or maybe Lamar could buy the Suns. They’re for sale for around $3.6 billion. I’ve even heard Barack Obama is among those interested in joining a new ownership group. Assholes.

  5. Yes, gorilla suits absolutely are inherently funny! Some years ago, when I worked in downtown Chicago, a friend and I were returning to the office after lunch and passed a guy panhandling in a gorilla suit with a Bulls jersey. I noted as we passed that the box he was using to collect money was pretty full; this guy had discovered a street-begging cheat code! It was attention-grabbing, it was amusing, it enabled him to remain anonymous, and he was raking in the bucks. It has ever since been part of my emergency plans to keep a hundred bucks stashed away untouched – if I ever find myself completely broke, that money is for the purchase of a gorilla suit, and I will emulate this street-corner genius until I’m back on my feet.

    • My favorite street beggar, who I may have to emulate if Biden stays in office for six more years: a guy about my age, sixty-five or seventy, standing at the stop light at the end of an exit off I-10 in west Phoenix holding a hand lettered cardboard sign that simply said, “Old Guy.”

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