We’re not sure why CBS had Charles Barkley on their NFL preview show on Sunday morning to discuss football, but then again we’re not sure why CBS has Barkley on their college basketball coverage when he clearly watches next to no college basketball prior to the NCAA Tournament. It was a clear ratings grab by a network desperate to draw viewers and set Twitter on its ear, and if Barkley happened to say something outrageous along the way, then all the better.
Well, it appears that CBS got what they wanted: Charles Barkley acting ridiculous and labeling an entire cross section of a race in the southern U.S. as child abusers.
Horrific child abusers, like Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson.
After being asked by host Jim Rome if what Peterson did to his four-year old child was fine by him, Barkley went off on a pathetic brand of “us jocks gotta stick together”-defensive terms, while basically failing to disassociate southern African-Americans that don’t happen to beat their children with those that do. CBSSports.com has the disturbing transcript:
Barkley: "I'm from the South. I understand Boomer's (Esiason) rage and anger ... but he's a white guy and I'm a black guy. I don't know where he's from (editor's note: Esiason grew up in Long Island), I'm from the South. Whipping -- we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances."
Rome: "It doesn't matter where you're from: Right is right and wrong is wrong."
Barkley: "I don't believe that because, listen, we spank kids in the South. I think the question about whether Adrian Peterson went overboard -- Listen, Jim, we all grow up in different environments. Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances."
Rome: "My thing is: I don't want to tell anybody how to raise their kids and I really don't want anybody telling me how to raise my kids. But let's make a distinction between 'child rearing' and 'child abuse.' That was child abuse. There's no fine line here."
Barkley: "I think there's a fine line. Jim, I've had many welts on my legs. I've gotten beat with switches -- and I don't even like the term. When the media talks about it, 'beating a child'--
Rome: "But that's what that was, Charles."
Barkley: "We called it 'spanking' or 'whipping' our kids."
Rome: "If I see open wounds or bruises on a body that is a beating."
Barkley: "Sure. I think those pictures are disturbing. And I think Adrian said 'I went overboard.' But as far as being from the South, we all spanked our kids -- I got spanked, me an my two brothers"--
Rome: "But then, Chuck, not now, right? 1964 is one thing, 2014 is another. Maybe we need to rethink this thing."
Barkley: "And I totally agree with that. But I think we have to really be careful trying to teach other parents how to discipline their kids. That's a very fine line."
No, Charles, there isn’t a fine line here. And there are millions of southern African-American parents who don’t beat their children that would like a word with you. They probably wouldn’t mind if you brought a switch.
Let’s break this down.
Charles Barkley doesn’t like calling the act of beating a defenseless child with a switch “beating a child,” because he would prefer to refer to it as “spanking” or “whipping.” With a tree branch.
Also, every black parent (because they’re from the South) whips their children. With a tree branch.
And remember, there’s a very fine in play here, according to Charles, because we should “be careful trying to teach other parents how to discipline their kids.” Because you don’t want to step into and chide another parent’s choices when it comes to how they teach their children what’s right or wrong. Because that would be far more distasteful and shameful than, say, beating a child with a tree branch. Because we’ve got to mind our own beeswax, here.
Taking down Charles Barkley’s stupid statements has always been akin to shooting fish in a barrel. This is perhaps the most egregious and easily the most potentially destructive example yet. Charles Barkley just excused beating a child because his version of the American South had a lot of it when he was growing up in the 1960s.
TNT and the Emmy-winning ‘Inside the NBA’ have a lot of important decisions to make in the next few days as to how they handle this. As does Charles Barkley, who excused what he calls “whipping” a child on national TV on Sunday morning, and more or less labeled every black southerner with a kid a child-beater along the way.
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