Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kelly Tilghman is being... attacked by many people.

For anyone who doesn't know, there is a story out about an anchor on the Golf Channel, Kelly Tilghman, who apparently uttered a "racially insensitive remark" last week.

According to the story, Nick Faldo said, "To take Tiger on, well yeah, they should just gang up for a while until ..." "Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman interrupted with a chuckle.

I am blogging about this because as I think about this word, lynch, I must admit, I would've never even thought of it being a racist word.

I consider myself fairly well read, and I've come across the word many times in my life, certainly even in stories of racial attacks in the old south. But in my mind the word has never been used exclusively to describe an attack on African-Americans. It has always just been an attack by a gang of people.

See, from my point of view, even if I had been watching the Mercedes-Benz Championship and heard Ms. Tilghman say that, I would've never thought of racism. The remark could've just as easily been applied to any member of the tour who is unstoppable. In fact, the remark was meant to be flattering! She was simply joking that it would take some underhanded tactics by a gang of outlaws in a dark alley to stop Tiger from winning a golf tournament. She's saying he's the best! Good grief.

We all come from different life experiences. We all associate different memories and feelings with the words we hear and use. For the most commonly used words, most people are going to interpret them with the same types of feelings and images, but for the more obscure ones, like "lynch", the feelings and images associated with them can be drastically different from person to person.

I understand Mr. Sharpton's point that the word lynch brings forth horrible feelings for African-Americans. I hadn't considered that before. And now I think Mr. Sharpton needs to be considerate of Ms. Tilghman's, and all other Americans' backgrounds, just as he demands that everyone be of his.

Tilghman's biggest crime here seems to be that she did not think of the old south and burning crosses when she said the word "lynch," although I'm sure she does now. If she was like me, she thought simply of a group of dirty people with rakes and pitchforks chasing someone, like in an old movie. Or maybe it was that post-hair rock band in the early 90s, Lynch Mob... "I've got that wicked sensation." I was a fan of that band when that album was out, and had never considered until now that they might be racist. I don't think they were... the band was actually named after one of the members, George Lynch.

Calling for Tilghman's job over this shows a terrible insensitivity to her life experience, and to me that seems somehow hypocritical.

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