Puto Is The Trump Of Chants

Like everyone else, the people of Mexico must be wondering how America, once the land of the free and the home of the brave, could have let such an emotionally and intellectually stunted bigot into the White House. Though, in fairness, they are probably more concerned with the man’s overt nationalism and well-documented xenophobia than with exactly how or why America lost its way.

Which left me wondering, as I watched the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup soccer tournament, how a people insulted and outraged by the words and actions of El Trumpo can so proudly scream “puto” every chance they get on the world’s stage…the fútbol arena. After all, barking out a homophobic insult is the kind of thing you would expect from a guy like Trump, not the reasonable and loving people of Mexico.

Sports Fan Behavior
For those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, let me explain. There is a certain school of thought among sports fans that if you shout something the moment an athlete is about to take an action, then you might be able to influence that action. I guess the idea is that a loud, sudden noise from the crowd might startle the player and cause them to falter. Although it is worth noting that you rarely see such behavior in sports traditionally favored by the elites, such as golf and tennis, where it might actually have some impact, while it has become quite common in traditionally working-class sports.

In soccer, which is the quintessential working-man’s sport everywhere around the world (except, perhaps, here in the United States), this scream-to-startle phenomenon typically occurs during a goal kick, arguably one of the game’s most low-risk moments (though some keepers have done their best to challenge that categorization). And with American fans, it will occasionally take the form of a deep build-up – “ooooooohhhhh” – bursting into a loud cheer – “HEEYYY” – when the keeper kicks the ball. This particular fan ritual originated during kickoffs in American football. And, especially with the long build-up, it is more of a celebration of play getting underway than an attempt to startle the player, in hopes of influencing the game.

A Fool’s Errand
For what it’s worth, I can’t recall this tactic – shouting or cheering something to startle or distract a goalkeeper (or any other player, for that matter) – ever having any discernible effect on a soccer game, here or abroad. For starters, you can’t be startled when you expect it. And even if the keeper were somehow caught off-guard by a sudden burst of noise, flubbing a goal kick isn’t nearly as bad as botching something like a penalty kick.

Frankly, it all seems quite silly to me. The behavior has become commonplace despite having no noticeable impact. But I guess fans want to pretend that they can have some sort of direct influence on the game, like they are helping to contribute to their team’s victory (though I have never seen a fan accepting a similar level of responsibility for their team’s defeat).

Mexican Fans
Mexican fans already have a history of some of the worst behavior at sporting events. Yes, folks, they invented “the wave.” Or at least they claim to have, at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, though there’s evidence that it has deeper routes in the National Hockey League, and may have first appeared in soccer at the 1984 Olympic final in Los Angeles. I have never understood this behavior, and laying claim to its origin makes about as much sense to me as claiming that you invented herpes.

Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. You go to a game to see the game, right? But that’s kind of hard to do when the portly guy in front of you periodically leaps to his feet and throws his hands in the air, creating a “wave” of fans doing the exact same thing in a “wave” that “travels” around the stadium. Forget the fact that Chicharito is in on goal…these clowns would rather do calisthenics than watch their team play.

Sure, people will argue that it’s all part of the spectacle – that things like the wave energize the fans, and the players. But shouldn’t the game, or one’s love of the game, be enough to energize the fans, and the players? It would have to be a really boring game for me to seek ways to amuse myself and others. If you want a wave, go to an amusement park. Or, better yet, try the ocean. I hear they are really big there.

The Puto Chant
The wave aside, Mexican soccer fans have set another precedent for bad behavior. They are responsible for the aforementioned scourge known as the “puto” chant. And it’s not really a chant, but rather a word they scream whenever the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick. I’ll deal with the meaning, and the various attempts to defend the term, in a moment, but suffice it to say that it is considered – and largely intended – to be a homophobic insult.

In fairness, this doesn’t compare with the overt ugliness and violence you often find at games in certain European, South American, and Central American countries. But much of that comes from extremist groups who have latched on to a specific club or national team as a means of identity. And you can usually trace their bad behavior back to racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, and general bigotry within their respective societies. Also, it tends to be a relatively small number of people who are openly expressing such things in and around the stadiums, whereas screaming “puto” is far more widespread phenomenon – often even a family activity.

The screaming of this word has become so rampant among Mexican soccer fans that FIFA has sanctioned the Mexican Federation for it, more than five times. Of course, being FIFA, these fines are nothing more than a slap on the proverbial wrist, designed to do nothing other than help FIFA retain an image long-since destroyed by its own horrific behavior. And yet this disgusting practice continues. It has also spread to other Spanish-speaking fan groups, and even to some gringo wannabes in Major League Soccer.

For it’s part, the Mexican Football Federation (which governs Mexico’s league and national team) has threatened to physically remove their fans who scream the word during matches played by the Mexican national team. And officials in Russia, where Mexico is currently playing in FIFA’s Confederation Cup, have promised to place monitors in the crowd to help identify fans engaging in racism and other offensive behavior  – including the puto chant. Yet Mexican fans clearly engaged in such behavior during their team’s opening match, and FIFA, the Mexican Federation, and the Russians (who are not exactly known for their tolerant behavior, especially when it comes to homosexuality) did nothing about it.

Fortunately, thanks to public pressure, some action was taken in subsequent games, with rumors of a few fan being ejected for the chant (unfounded rumors, it seems, but that was apparently enough to deter the behavior). As a result, Mexican fans seem to have dialed it down a bit, at least for the time being. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for this ugly, childish behavior, but the real test will come next month, during the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which also features the Mexican national team – and their fans.

So What Does Puto Actually Mean?
Getting an accurate translation of puto depends on who you ask. In Mexico, and many Spanish-speaking countries, “puta” is slang for a female prostitute. And puto, in the masculine form, technically refers to a male prostitute. But we’re not talking about a gigolo here. It’s meant to refer to the kind of working stiff that George Michael used to frequently enjoy brief, intimate, paid encounters with in public restroom stalls. To put it in Trumpian terms, it’s kind of like calling someone a “fag for hire.” Definitely a slur.

Puto apologists will make a number of different arguments, as the guilty often do, trying to rationalize their inappropriate behavior. First, they will tell you that it’s not an insult. That it simply refers to a male prostitute. OK, then, is calling someone a whore not an insult? And why are you calling an opposition player a male prostitute, if it’s not meant to insult them in some sort of fashion?

After that fails to hold its ground, they tend to fall back to the argument that the use of the word is commonplace in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking cultures. They will claim that it has become the equivalent of how we use “fucker” here in America, as in “That Fucker!” Which is funny, because now the argument concedes that it is obscene, and an insult, but not necessarily homophobic. After all, anyone can be a fucker. Even you, you fucking fucker!

Others will argue that when they use the word in the context of a sporting event, it means “coward.” And I guess if you are a self-delusional homophobe, you might argue that when you call someone a “fag” that you only really mean that they are a “coward” – which, of course, doubles-down on the insult because you are now implying that someone who engages in homosexual activities is also a coward. But if you truly mean to say coward, then why not just say “cobarde” – coward? Or, if you feel the need to add a little edge, I understand that “pendejo” works just as well, without implying any homophobic undertones. But they don’t use those other words, do they?

It’s like someone trying to defend an expression like “carpet muncher.” That phrase is clearly intended to refer to lesbians in a demeaning manner (though, given modern trends in personal grooming, it hardly seems appropriate these days). Sure, you could say that you are talking about someone who chews on carpeting as some bizarre form of flossing their teeth, but no one is going to believe such nonsense. That’s the kind of half-ass duplicity that has become a staple of the Trump administration.

Others will concede that it is a slur and try to defend it by saying that there are worse things that could be said. The Colombian who manages the Mexican National Team, Juan Carlos Osorio, has offered this lame, hollow excuse. It’s kind of like saying, sure, we threw a bucket of urine on their player, but at least it wasn’t feces.

Despite all these arguments, puto is meant as an insult. And given its cultural context, that insult is meant to be demeaning to both gay men and prostitutes. Which is not only wrong, but totally unnecessary.

Mexican Trumps
The puto chant is also demeaning and insulting to Mexicans, painting them as a homophobic and intolerant people. And it has become a national embarrassment, much like the tweets of Donald Trump.

Is “puto” the best that these fans can come up with? Is that the limit of their creativity? I know that’s how El Trumpo behaves, but aren’t you supposed to be better than that? And what of other fans – Americans and other nationalities – who have eagerly taken up the practice? It’s like a bunch of 13-year-old boys who just learned a dirty word in Spanish and think that saying it is absolutely hysterical.

Look, I have shouted some crazy stuff at soccer games. From “chicken bucket” to “you fucking Philistines,” I am not shy about barking out obscenity-laden rants at the officials, the opposition, and even some of my team’s more slack players. But I never cross the line into ethnic, racial, or sexual slurs. Why would I? It’s a game, after all, and we’re all supposed to be having fun, right? And if I do feel the need to vent my frustration, I would rather do so in a manner that might make someone laugh – not feel insulted, demeaned, oppressed, or threatened.

Hacerse maduro, amigos. Grow up, my friends. Otherwise, you are no better than Trump. And I believe you are.

Does Colin Kaepernick Deserve To Be On His Knees?

kaeperneeI was very supportive of the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick “taking a knee” during the national anthem as a form of protest against racism in America. As a public figure, his subtle protest helped draw additional attention to this critical issue. But after learning that the guy didn’t even bother to vote in this election, I can’t help but wonder if he deserves to be on his knees.

Kaepernick explained his decision not to vote by claiming that it didn’t matter who we elect to govern our nation. So, it seems, he chose to look the other way. Which is odd because, in explaining his justification for choosing not to stand in respect of our national anthem, he said that doing so “would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

I’m not calling Kaepernick a hypocrite, as many have. This isn’t technically hypocrisy. It’s just stupidity. If you sincerely care about ending racism in America, why not do whatever you can – within the law, of course – to combat it? It’s easy to take a knee. But why draw attention to a problem when you are not willing to stand up and try to find a solution? Don’t just say there’s something wrong if you’re not willing to do something about it. Don’t look the other way. That’s just stupid…lazy…and selfish.

And despite my headline, I’m not suggesting Kaepernick deserves to be the subject of oppression and brutality simply because of the amount of melanin his DNA produces. No man should be on his knees. Or woman.

But people who refuse to participate in the democratic process certainly deserve whatever government they couldn’t be bothered to elect. And after this election, that should be abundantly clear to everyone who thinks voting doesn’t matter.

We’ve all experienced this to some degree. There always seems to be a coworker, friend, or neighbor who spends four years complaining about the politicians and the way they are running the country, and then you find out they didn’t even bother to vote.

It’s easy to bitch. But it’s not that hard to cast an educated vote, either.

To put it in terms that a quarterback should understand, imagine if your offensive line didn’t bother to do any blocking because the other team is stronger and faster. They may be stronger and faster, but damn it, man, at least try. Put some skin in the game, so to speak. You’re never going to gain an inch – let alone earn a victory – simply by taking a knee.

I used to think that if you really care about something – especially something as important as ending racism in America, and the world – the least you can do is cast a vote and try put people in power who share that vision. But I was wrong. The least you can do is take a knee.

Thanks for not standing up when it really mattered, you putz.

Lessons Learned from the Fox News Republican Presidential Debate

FoxDebateesI thought the Fox moderators did an admirable job of asking some tough, pointed questions of each candidate last Thursday. Yes, you heard me correctly. I think Fox News actually did something right. #BlondesHaveMoreFun

Of course, conservatives are apoplectic because the Fox moderators did in fact do a decent job of questioning the candidates. I think they are a little miffed that the normally conservative cocoon of Fox may have exposed their entire field of candidates for the hypocritical buffoons they really are. #Irony

FoxRepThat said, few of the candidates actually answered the questions asked of them. Instead, they spun it around to recite the same canned message points each time they were called upon. And rarely did any of the moderators press them to answer the actual questions. #Weak

However, I thought the seven candidates in the first debate, those who hadn’t polled high enough to make it to the prime-time debate, did a slightly better job of answering the questions asked of them. #CandorDoesNotPollWell

All of the Republican candidates said they want to reduce the size and scope of government. And in particular, they said they want to reduce the amount of money our government spends. #AntiGovernmentPoliticianIsNotAnOxymoron?

Despite this aforementioned claim, all of them also said that they want to increase the size and scope of government – and particularly increase government spending – to do things like fight more wars, build and protect our borders, and enforce expansive immigration laws. #SpendThenBlameTheDems

In other words, all of the Republican presidential candidates are talking out of their asses. #Hypocrisy

And while all of the candidates professed outrage over our nation’s current debt, they failed to acknowledge the indisputable fact that much of this debt was created the last time a Republican was in the White House. When George W. Bush became president, our nation had a budget surplus, thanks to the presidency of Democrat Bill Clinton (who, incidentally, had inherited a budget deficit from Republican George H.W. Bush). But thanks to eight years of a Republican in the White House, Democrat Barack Obama inherited yet another massive budget deficit. #NoAccountability #Hypocrisy&Denial #SpendThenBlameTheDemsAgain

I think the debate spelled the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. He came off even more dickish than usual, and that’s saying a lot. His spotty record as a businessman was exposed, including the fact that he has had to rely on government entitlement programs like bankruptcy as many as 4 times in past 25 years to make up for his management failures. And it didn’t help when the moderators reminded everyone that each time Donny shirked his debts he left a lot of loyal employees – hard-working Americans – unemployed as a result of his repeated incompetence as a leader. #DonaldRump #BankruptAmerica

FoxTrumpPlus, Trump made it clear that he’s more interested in Donald Trump than the Republican Party. In fact, he flat-out admitted that if the party chooses another candidate, he would continue to campaign as an independent. Which, of course, makes you wonder if he’d put the needs of the nation ahead of his own, should darkness sweep over this land and actually put him in the White House. #AllAboutMe

Though I think Trump’s popularity may serve as an important lesson for all candidates, but particularly Republicans. Republicans have falsely assumed that Trump’s appeal is based on their conservative ideals, when what people are really responding to is his unorthodox candidacy – the fact that he mocks the other politicians. Trump is walking proof that it’s really all about anger and rage against the system, rather than intellectual support for specific ideals or policies (especially since he has yet to articulate any of these). #WeHateBothParties

Ben Carson seemed to be largely ignored by the Fox moderators. Was this because he’s black, or because he’s smart? #SmartLivesMatter

And Lindsey Graham? All that guy cares about is starting a war. Look, we get it, you have invested heavily in the defense sector and want to make a killing – both in the market and on some battlefield. But try not to make it so obvious. Even Republicans have grown weary of wasting American lives. #WarMonger

For me, the brightest spot was Ohio Governor John Kasich. He’s what they call a compassionate conservative, and – despite his professions of faith – he sounded like a fairly reasonable, trustworthy guy. In other words, he seems to be the least bat-shit-crazy out of all the Republican candidates. I consider myself fairly liberal, but if the Republicans nominate that guy (which they surely won’t), I just might vote for him over Hillary Clinton. #VoteKasich

And speaking of Hillary Clinton, apparently she is far more qualified to be president than I realized. In fact, it seems she’s far more qualified to be president than any candidate on either side. You see, having listened to the Fox moderators and every single candidate in both debates, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton already is the President of the United States, a role she has apparently been sharing with Barack Obama for the past two terms. #FoxMisleads #PresidentHillary