The NBA’s First Gay Player: Jason Collins, who’s coming off his 12th season in the NBA, today became the first openly gay athlete in one of North America’s four major men’s professional sports leagues. Collins was an All-American at Stanford University before being taken in the first round of the 2001 draft by the Houston Rockets. From there, he never developed into anything more than an average player—bouncing around between a half-dozen teams and averaging fewer that four points-per-game as a pro—but the stat sheet matters little today.
In His Own Words: Collins came out in a first-person Sports Illustrated cover story: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.” Read Collins’ full coming-out piece here.
Instant Reaction: Washington Post: “With that, Collins became the first active male athlete in a major U.S. professional sports league to come out of the closet—a designation that is certain to elevate this relatively anonymous player, known primarily for his ability to commit fouls and set picks, into a historic figure in both the sports and gay rights realms. … The first wave of public reaction to Collins’s announcement was overwhelmingly positive, with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, former NFL star and current daytime TV talk host Michael Strahan and former President Bill Clinton among those issuing public salutes to Collins’s move.”
Not Everyone Was So Kind: ESPN analyst Chris Broussard offered this clunker during a special edition of Outside the Lines: “Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
A Politically-Correct Climate: Making Broussard’s comments that much more awkward was the fact that in a different ESPN segment Broussard suggested that we will “hear very little critcism” of Collins because “a lot of people understand it’s a politically-correct climate, and even players that don’t agree will not necessarily voice that opinion.” Then—after mentioning that Collins’ future teammates may be wary of showering with him or associating with him out of fear of being thought of as gay—Broussard pivoted and said this: “Everyone’s agreed on this: he’s a great guy.”
The Video #2:
Christian Values: Here was the portion of Collins’ essay that Broussard appears to have been referencing with his Christianity comments: “I’m from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally.”
XX Factor’s June Thomas: I’d Never Heard of Jason Collins Before Today. Now I’m a Huge Fan.
House Call: Associated Press: “FBI agents investigating the Boston Marathon bombings have visited the Rhode Island home of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s in-laws and carried away several bags. FBI spokesman Jason Pack confirmed that agents went to the North Kingstown, R.I., home of Katherine Russell’s parents Monday. Russell, Tsarnaev’s widow, has been staying there. Pack says the FBI visited the house as part of its investigation into the bombings. After agents left the home, Russell left with her attorneys through a separate door.”
XX Factor: Why All This Maternal Sympathy for Dzhokhar?
What Ron Paul Is Afraid Of: USA Today: “Former congressman Ron Paul was no fan of the police presence and manhunt tied to the Boston Marathon bombings. The libertarian-thinking, former GOP presidential candidate slammed what he called the‘“military-style takeover’ of Boston on April 19, the day Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked residents of Boston and its nearby suburbs to ‘shelter in place.’ “The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city,’ Paul wrote on the website of Lew Rockwell, a libertarian writer. ‘This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.’”
Sandy, Six Months Later: CBS News: “Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that President Barack Obama ‘has kept every promise he’s made’ about helping the state recover from Superstorm Sandy. Hours later, Obama’s housing secretary approved New Jersey’s plans to spend $1.83 billion in federal money to help the state rebuild and recover from the storm. Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program six months after the deadly storm, the Republican governor said presidential politics were the last thing on his mind as he toured storm-devastated areas with Obama last fall. … His comments came in response to a question about whether he had any regrets about his warm embrace of Obama after the storm, which angered some Republicans, who said it helped tip a close presidential election. Christie had endorsed and campaigned for Republican Mitt Romney.”
South Carolina Showdown: NBC News: “Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford meets the Democrat looking to end his bid for political redemption, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, in a high-profile debate Monday evening, just one week before the May 7 special election that will send one of them to Congress. Colbert Busch and Sanford will share a stage for their first and only debate ahead of next Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacancy that occurred following then-Rep. Tim Scott’s, R, appointment to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.”
News From Syria: Washington Post: “U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed an appeal Monday to Syria to allow U.N. chemical weapons experts into the country, saying that on-site inspections are essential to ‘establish the facts and clear up all the doubts’ surrounding the reported use of the banned weapons in Syria’s escalating civil war. Ban’s remarks — delivered the with chief U.N. chemical weapons inspector, Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, at his side — followed allegations by several countries, including the United States, that chemical weapons were likely used in Syria in recent months.”
Assasination Attempt: New York Times: “In the latest reported attack on a high-ranking Syrian official, Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi survived what appeared to be an assassination attempt Monday in an upscale neighborhood of the capital, Damascus, when a car bomb exploded near his convoy, according to state-run media and opposition reports saying that a bodyguard was killed.”
Update From Bangladesh: Reuters: “ Bangladeshi lawyers and protesters chanted ‘hang him, hang him’ on Monday as the owner of a factory building that collapsed last week killing nearly 400 people was led into court dressed in a helmet and bullet-proof jacket, witnesses said. The drama came as rescue officials said they were unlikely to find more survivors in the rubble of the building that collapsed on Wednesday, burying hundreds of garment workers in the country’s worst industrial accident.”
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate’s Blogs—
- The Slatest: Sandra Day O’Connor Is Still Having Second Thoughts About Bush v. Gore
- XX Factor: Conservative Sex Obsession Hurts Both Boys and Girls
- Future Tense: FBI Wants Power to Fine Internet Chat Providers That Don’t Comply With Real-Time Spy Orders
- Crime: Most Wanted Monday: The Cop Accused of Molesting a Child and Murdering His Wife
- XX Factor: Amanda Knox Is Not a Cautionary Tale About Sex
- Weigel: A Few Notes From the Most-Hated Washington Party of the Year
- Behold: Truth and Fiction in Television News
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