Just because you are a good person with a good heart does not mean that you are free from the repercussions of your actions.
We’re all clear on that? Good. Let’s talk about someone who is not a good person: Thom Brenneman.
I’m sure you’re all up-to-date on why Thom is in the news. If you’re not, this is your warning. I’m not even going to put this video in context. It doesn’t need context. The fact that it happened at all is the problem.
TW: This video contains an anti-gay slur.
So Thom Brennaman used a derogatory, anti-LGBTQ+ slur on live television. That’s bad. He then continued to do the pregame show as well as call half the game. That’s worse. And then Thom Brennaman interrupted his on-air apology to call a Nick Castellanos home run. The worst.
For a moment in time, calling a Reds home run and doing his actual job was deemed more important to Thom Brennaman than apologizing for using a hateful slur on live television.
Thom Brennaman is not the first commentator to unmask himself as a bigot, and he is absolutely not the last. Why do I say that? Because it’s 2020 and Thom Brennaman dropped a homophobic slur with the casualness and simplicity that I use when calling my wife by her first name, something I do all the time.
In all honesty, I’ve been using Thom Brennaman’s whole name so far, and it’s been cumbersome and tiring and it’s foreign to me, because I’ve never written about him before. And still, Thom Brennaman used a derrogatory slur with more ease.
That’s the real problem.
Thom Brennaman got caught. That’s what he’s apologizing for. What Thom thinks he’s done is said a bad word, he made a mistake. What he’s actually done is give us a glimpse into the way he views the LGBTQ+ community.
Immediately people began jumping to his defense. Because it’s 2020 and people need to protect each other’s right to bigotry and homophobia.
“He’s got a good heart.”
“Thom’s not a bad guy.”
“That’s not representative of who he is.”
“Thom Brennaman made a mistake.”
“He was talking to someone in the truck.”
Thom Brennaman did not make a mistake by uttering a homophobic slur. It was not a slip of the tongue. It wasn’t a Ron Burgundy moment. Instead, the mistake that Thom Brennaman made was saying it with a headset on. Thom Brennaman got caught using a derogatory slur, while wearing a microphone at his job, where he’s paid to talk into a microphone.
So to be clear, Thom Brennaman got caught saying a word he has most certainly said before.
During the broadcast of the doubleheader between the Reds and Royals, Thom attempted to apologize. A reminder, this is now hours after he made the ugly, hateful remark. He’s been given the ability to continue on with life as if nothing was wrong.
“I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of. If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart I’m so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith-“
This is when Nick Castellanos hit a home run into the “Judgement Free Zone” in left field, adding a 2020 level of irony that is truly fitting of the moment. Brennaman, who is always so sure-tongued in these moments, chose to call the play.
Is it possible to make an incident worse while apologizing for it? Thom Brennaman knows it’s very much possible. But still, he continued to press on with his lukewarm apology.
“I don’t know if I’m gonna be putting on this headset again. I don’t know if it’s gonna be for the Reds. I don’t know if it’s gonna be for my bosses at FOX,” Brennaman said as Castellanos rounded second base. “I want to apologize for the people who sign my checks, for the Reds, for FOX Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody who I offended here tonight. I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am and never has been. And I’d like to think maybe I could have some people that could back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness.”
He was eventually pulled from the broadcast midway through the game.
The morning after Thom released this statement:
“I would like to sincerely apologize for the inappropriate comments I made during last night’s telecast. I made a terrible mistake. To the LGBTQ community, and all people I have hurt or offended, from the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry. I respectfully ask for your grace and forgiveness.”
So a couple of things here.
Being a man of faith doesn’t mean you are infallible to criticism and anger, especially in this situation. If anything “being a man of faith” exacerbates the seriousness of the use of the word.
And if you need a refresher as to why religion would throw gas on this fire, check out the sub-tweets of this Amir Garrett tweet.
Secondly, in his immediate apology, Brennaman neglects to apologize to the people he hurt the most, the LGBTQ+ community. That’s not an oversight, that’s evidence that he couldn’t care less about them in the first place. If you hurt someone, apologize to them. Not to FOX Sports Ohio and the Reds, because they don’t have feelings.
Brennaman also drops a “to everyone I might have offended.” Love this move from Thom as it opens the door to people who support homophobia and anti-LGBTQ+ efforts, while also seeming sympathetic. This is the non-apology of all non-apologies.
Apologizing to the “people who sign your checks” ahead of the group of people you disparaged without a thought, is insane. Thom wasn’t apologizing for what he said, he was asking his bosses for forgiveness. Priorities, much like caring for other human beings, don’t seem to be Thom’s strong suit.
And finally, if this truly “isn’t who he is,” then why did it take a so long for him to be made aware of the issue.
If that’s not you, then why did you say the word?
If that’s not you, then why did you feel it was okay to use a slur?
If that’s not you, then why did you feel comfortable using it?
If that’s not you, why did you sound so comfortable dropping it?
If that’s not you, what are you apologizing for?
The safety and comfort in which Thom Brennaman uttered an atrocious three-letter word, felt the same as it does when he says “R-B-I.”
Thom’s error doesn’t begin here, but hopefully, it ends here. The usage of such words allows and empowers others around them to feel okay with their own hatred. People like Thom who exercise this brand of casual homophobia make it okay for LGBTQ+ to be harassed, attacked, or worse. Thom Brennaman opened a door into the way he thinks about others and held the door for others to feel vindicated in their hate.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Hate speech, however, does not qualify as a mistake. When you purposefully diminish the existence of a group of people based on something they have zero control over, you haven’t made a mistake. You chose that path.”
And now, Thom Brennaman is suspended from calling Reds games.
“That’s a good start,” said no one.
In my opinion, Thom should be fired. How does he get back into the booth, and back into the good graces of “all people I have hurt or offended”? Thom can educate himself on LGBTQ+ issues, volunteer at a homeless shelter for LGBTQ+ youth, donate his salary to The Trevor Project, the National Center for Transgender Equality, or True Colors United. If he needs a list, he can find one here. He can use his name and talents as a public figure and become an anti-bullying advocate and public speaker in schools in the Cincinnati area.
Thom can right his wrong by changing the way he views the LGBTQ+ community, not by apologizing for the feelings he’s hurt.
The way to heal the wounds you create is not by apologizing indiscriminately into the void. It’s by being a part of the fight to change the world you’ve helped strengthen.
Until then, Thom Brennaman will remain a bigot who said what he said and stood by it. Thom Brennaman will continue to be a man who isn’t sorry he said an anti-LGBTQ+ slur, just one who is sorry he got caught.
Thom Brennaman is garbage.
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