Nut job racists tarnish Boston, Twitter

Steve Buffery, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:50 PM ET

Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward said his teammate, Jeff Halpern, alerted him to the racist taunts directed his way on Wednesday night after he scored the winning goal against the Boston Bruins.

Halpern, he said, apologized that he had to endure such hate.

“I think he was telling me he had my back,” Ward told USA Today.

We should all have Joel Ward’s back.

Years ago, when I was on the Raptors beat, we were walking out of the TD Garden after the morning shootaround, when the topic of Boston, the city, arose.

I mentioned how much I enjoyed visiting Boston — the bars and restaurants, the intellectual feel of the city with the four major universities, the history, the way the rank and file sports fans bleed for their teams and the fact that everything downtown seems to be within walking distance.

But as I yammered on, a Raptors official stopped me and said: ‘Sure, Boston is great for you. You’re white.’

I was taken aback. He explained, as far as Black American athletes were concerned, Boston had long had a reputation for being a racist town. Turns out, there have been Black American athletes who have voiced that same opinion. Barry Bonds one of them, back in 2004.

But it’s hard to argue — based on the taunts of a few fans — that Boston is more racist than any other city in North America.

I mean, do we automatically brand London, Ont., the most racist city in Canada based on the fact that an idiot threw a banana at Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during a pre-season game last September at the John Labatt Centre? You can’t. Racism, sadly, is everywhere, in every walk of life, in every city, town, country.

But it’s much more difficult today to defend Boston, a city so great in so many ways, given the reaction to the Bruins’ Game 7 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday. Or, more specifically, the reaction on Twitter by a segment of Bruins fans to the fact that the overtime goal was scored by Ward, a black Canadian from Toronto.

The response on Twitter to Ward’s OT goal was as vile as can be imagined. There’s no point listing examples, though the common theme seems to be the use of the N-word. And just as shocking was the fact that there were more than a couple of racists firing off their bile. There were far too many. How sad is it in this day and age, in this society, that so many people like that are still out there?

To make matters worse, social media sites like Twitter allow such scum to operate at will, to spread their hate, because they can hide behind a curtain of anonymity. There’s no fear of being exposed.

Ask any writer or broadcaster about some of the reaction they’ve received on Twitter over the years. Sometimes it’s positive, or critical, or indifferent. But too often it’s beyond nasty. It can be overwhelming. When people don’t need to identify themselves, it seems anything goes. There are a lot of great things about Twitter, especially from a news perspective. Information and opinion is almost instant, and there’s a lot to be said for spontaneity.

On the other hand, Twitter seems to encourage angry, hate-filled nut jobs to spew their despicable theories.

For his part, Ward took the high road on Thursday and insisted that the tweets would not faze him in any way.

“I’m definitely getting a lot of support,” Ward said. “There have been a lot of Boston fans who have supported me, which is very cool to see. No hard feelings from me. This is a game.”

It would be a good thing if somehow, in order to subscribe to Twitter, your true identity first had to be established, though that’s probably not possible. On the other hand, if racists like those who crawled out of their holes on Wednesday night kept their hate to themselves, we’d probably be no better off.

Just knowing they’re out there is chilling.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

twitter@beezersun


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