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Topics In the News
Firing of Anti-gay Sportscaster Offers Teachable Moment for Bigots
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/08/13
Last updated on: 09/08/13
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Craig James.

The firing of anti-gay sports commentator Craig James after a single appearance on Fox Sports Southwest offers yet another teachable moment for bigots. Just as the homophobic comments of former Anglican Bishop James Tengatenga came back to haunt him when his offer of a prestigious position at Dartmouth College was rescinded in August, so James's career has also been derailed by the homophobic comments he made in a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012. The moral is that while homophobic attitudes may win favor in some precincts, they may also prove a liability in others.

As we noted here, on August 15, 2013, Dartmouth College's new president Philip J. Hanlon rescinded the appointment of the former Anglican Bishop of Southern Malawi, James Tengatenga, as dean of the William Jewell Tucker Foundation, a campus institution that focuses on furthering the moral, spiritual, and social justice work of the school. The appointment of Tengatenga, who is also chair of the Worldwide Anglican Communion's Anglican Consultative Council, became controversial when his history of homophobic statements and actions came to light.

Similarly, a job offer to Craig James, a former professional football player and sports commentator for ABC and ESPN television networks, was summarily rescinded by Fox Sports in light of the homophobic comments he made during his ill-fated campaign for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate from Texas in 2012.

James had been tendered a tentative offer by Fox Sports Southwest, a regional network of Fox Sports, to co-host a college football show. However, after a single appearance on the show, James was abruptly fired. Apparently, the national company had not approved the hire and was displeased with it.

As Barry Horn reports in the Dallas Morning News, a Fox Sports spokesman said, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's [anti-gay] statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."

In a blog at Box Turtle Bulletin, Timothy Kincaid rehearses some of the anti-gay comments made by James during the campaign in which he attacked the former mayor of Dallas for having attended a gay pride parade and attempted to stake out a position to the right of even Ted Cruz, the eventual winner. He described homosexuality as a choice for which gay people would have to answer to God and he loudly proclaimed his opposition to any recognition of same-sex couples.

After the campaign, which apparently left him awash in debt, James attempted to return to his job at ESPN. However, that network refused to re-hire him.

Bishop Tengatenga and Craig James will no doubt be touted as victims of militant homosexuals and claim that they are being persecuted for their religious and political views. They will (falsely) claim that their first amendment right to free speech is being violated.

But the real lesson here is that free speech is not free of consequences.

Attacking gay people may well be a smart career strategy for an Anglican Bishop in Africa or a politician in Texas, but the record of homophobia is difficult to erase and may in the long run destroy rather than enhance career aspirations.

James's anti-gay comments during his campaign for the U.S. Senate was perhaps predictable since a prominent feature of the campaign was his endorsement of Rick Santorum for President, as the clip below documents.

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