The Hamed Haddadi controversy: Are you kidding me?

I was checking out the headlines on Yahoo, when I saw a link to a story about two Los Angeles Clippers announcers who made some offensive remarks about Vancouver Grizzlies Center Hamed Haddadi. I hadn’t heard about this controversy, so I read the article to see what it was about. The story went on at length about how sorry announcers Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith were over their offensive remarks, how they apologized on-air, and directly to Hamed Haddadi before a Vancouver/L.A. game in the presence of three members of the Alliance of Iranian Americans.

It seemed like a serious situation, and as I read on, a transcript of the offensive exchange was at the end. Here it is:

Smith: “Look who’s in.”

Lawler: “Hamed Haddadi. Where’s he from?”

Smith: “He’s the first Iranian to play in the NBA.” (Smith pronounced Iranian as “Eye-ranian,” a pronunciation that offended a viewer who complained.)

Lawler: “There aren’t any Iranian players in the NBA,” repeating Smith’s mispronunciation.

Wow. These guys were suspended for one game and forced to apologize not once, but twice for mispronouncing the word “Iranian.” I’m not going to ask if things have gone to far, since that happened a long time ago. The question is how much further will we go? Since when does intentionally mispronouncing the name of a country make you insensitive or a racist? By the way, would they have been suspended if the player were “Eye-talian,” or are people from “those” kinds of countries immune from being offended?

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