Readers' rep Derek Donovan had to devote his Thursday column to a flood of reader complaints about a racist column by sports columnist Jason Whitlock. Here is what Donovan said:
Boy, have I heard a lot about Jason Whitlock's column about the NBA's referees today, particularly his reference the court as " police state, overseen primarily by three middle-aged white men intent on making sure the primarily black and foreign-born players don’t compete with the kind of aggression and emotion commonplace in football, hockey and baseball."
A sample e-mail, with "Inappropriate and Racist" as the subject line:
"First - If his point is that NBA refs are stifling the NBA, why reference their color? There's no good reason to do this - other than racism. Second - Can you imagine if a white columnist had used the unnecessary comment 'three middle-aged black men?' All hell would break loose and someone would be getting fired."
Now, let me be clear: "Fair" in an opinion column is purely subjective, and my purview doesn't extend to questions like this. Whitlock is known for his sometimes-blunt, sometimes-provocative statements on topics relating to race, and I've also fielded many, many complaints from other readers who have felt he's been too hard on black athletes and fans in the past.
But a columnist has the bully pulpit, and his critics deserve to have their voices heard, whether we agree with them or not. There are some letters to the editor expressing these sentiments coming. I make no judgment either way here, other than to note this has definitely been the big topic of the day for my traffic.
Whitlock has been making his boss look like a fool for years.