PC Culture

The NBA’s PC Move Away from the Word ‘Owner’

NBA commissioner Adam Silver (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)
So now I can never call myself a ‘pet owner’ or a ‘homeowner’? Parody has become impossible.

Last month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told TMZ Sports that the NBA has “moved away” from the word “owner” because of its connotations with slavery.

“I don’t want to overreact to the term because, as I said earlier, people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word owner,” Silver said. “But we moved away from that term years ago in the league.”

“We call our team owners ‘governor of the team’ and ‘alternate governor,'” he continued.

Since the comments, many people have come out to mock them — including sports personality Stephen A. Smith, who said on his national radio show Monday that the concern over the word means that the NBA must be “smoking crack”:

The idiocy in this politically correct world that we’re living in, where we’ve got to literally have a discussion to the point where it becomes a media storyline. “Oh my god. An owner says he owns his team. That’s offensive to people.” Y’all smoking crack. Something is wrong with you people. What the hell has this world come to?

Now, I’m not sure about crack specifically, but I am sure that Stephen A. Smith is right to think that this is unbelievably stupid. In fact, what struck me the most about the controversy was that I remembered that I had actually used the concept of people becoming offended at the word “owner” as a joke in an NRO column I wrote two years ago.

The column was about how a college, Rice University, had decided to stop using the word “master” to describe the heads of its residential colleges because the word is associated with slavery. As a way of arguing against this decision, I stated in a tongue-in-cheek way that having a problem with the word “master” for this reason would be like having a problem with the word “owner:”

There are also so many words other than “master” that could be considered offensive based on this standard. For example, people with slaves were also called “slave owners,” which, if you notice, has the word “owner” in it. The exact same logic that’s leading Rice and other colleges to get rid of the word “master” would also demand that words and phrases such as “homeowner,” “pet owner,” and “girl, own it!” be changed — and, sorry, but I really don’t think I’ll ever refer to myself as “a possessor of a pet.”

Let me be clear: I thought, at the time, that my example was perfect for showing just how ridiculous and nonsensical the “master” controversy was. Little did I know that, according to Silver, there already was a group (the NBA) that, in all seriousness, had an actual problem with “owner.”

It’s mind-blowing, but it’s true: We have now entered an era of political correctness when parody has become almost impossible. I always wondered when a joke I’d made in my column about oversensitivity would turn out to come true — and it seems that the day has finally (unfortunately) come.

Yes — people owned slaves, and yes, that is an unspeakable horror. But the thing is, people have owned, and continue to own, lots of things. For example, I (not to brag) own a toothbrush. Is it offensive to say I’m a toothbrush owner? If I own a home someday, can I call myself a “homeowner”? Or do I have to call it something else? I guess I could say “person who has a home,” but I don’t know if even that would work. Other than it being stupidly wordy, wouldn’t the word “has” be offensive too, according to the NBA logic about the word “owner”? After all, there can be all sorts of horrific things that a person “has” — like cancer, for example. If “owner” is offensive because there have been people who owned slaves, wouldn’t “has” be offensive because there have been people who “have had” (and continue to “have”) things like cancer? Words can mean different things to different people at different times, and as long as you’re not using them in an offensive way, you shouldn’t have any problem using them.

In any case, I am truly terrified to see how stupid this could get. After all, just when I think it couldn’t possibly get any more stupid, I’m usually proven wrong. All I can do is hope that no one reads my parody-like example about the word “has” and decides that this word actually is offensive. But, after what happened with my 2017 example of using the word “owner,” it wouldn’t be the first time that what I thought was parody turned out to be reality.

 

Most Popular

Culture

Thank You, Kanye West

It was “a plan by the Devil to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high.” So said Kanye West, who recently declared, via Twitter, that he was running for president, on the “Birthday Party” ticket. It’s about the best explanation I’ve heard for the non-coronavirus that plagues us. There’s ... Read More
Culture

Thank You, Kanye West

It was “a plan by the Devil to have our kids committing suicide at an all-time high.” So said Kanye West, who recently declared, via Twitter, that he was running for president, on the “Birthday Party” ticket. It’s about the best explanation I’ve heard for the non-coronavirus that plagues us. There’s ... Read More
Culture

In Defense of Terry Crews

There are many worthy nominees for the craziest moment in the current cultural turmoil, but the controversy over tweets by actor Terry Crews deserves to be high on the list. In one of his offending tweets, Crews said on July 4th: https://twitter.com/terrycrews/status/1279493774679261185?s=21 It wasn’t ... Read More
Culture

In Defense of Terry Crews

There are many worthy nominees for the craziest moment in the current cultural turmoil, but the controversy over tweets by actor Terry Crews deserves to be high on the list. In one of his offending tweets, Crews said on July 4th: https://twitter.com/terrycrews/status/1279493774679261185?s=21 It wasn’t ... Read More
Education

The Case for Reopening Schools

On the menu today: My reader who is the head of research for a top-ten hospital weighs in on how to get kids back into classrooms safely this fall, a blathering Biden comment I missed that could have gotten his Twitter account suspended, and California’s state government tries to implement an ambitious ... Read More
Education

The Case for Reopening Schools

On the menu today: My reader who is the head of research for a top-ten hospital weighs in on how to get kids back into classrooms safely this fall, a blathering Biden comment I missed that could have gotten his Twitter account suspended, and California’s state government tries to implement an ambitious ... Read More
Science & Tech

The Ideological Corruption of Science

Why don't many people “trust the science” anymore? Perhaps because science, as an institution, has fallen prey to the same ideological infection that has invaded and corrupted many other institutions. But it is too rarely discussed, which is why a Sunday Wall Street Journal column by theoretical physicist ... Read More
Science & Tech

The Ideological Corruption of Science

Why don't many people “trust the science” anymore? Perhaps because science, as an institution, has fallen prey to the same ideological infection that has invaded and corrupted many other institutions. But it is too rarely discussed, which is why a Sunday Wall Street Journal column by theoretical physicist ... Read More
Science & Tech

Evaluating Fauci’s Record

The White House is getting a lot of heat by pointing out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease official, has a spottier record on predicting the course of pandemics than the media would have you believe. “White House officials now want to rein in Fauci by cherry-picking instances in ... Read More
Science & Tech

Evaluating Fauci’s Record

The White House is getting a lot of heat by pointing out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease official, has a spottier record on predicting the course of pandemics than the media would have you believe. “White House officials now want to rein in Fauci by cherry-picking instances in ... Read More

Kings of the Castle

‘Cancel culture isn’t an assault on freedom of speech,” the dishonest argument of the moment goes, “It is free speech.” That isn’t really true, inasmuch as the entire point of “cancel culture” is to limit and suppress speech, which is nonetheless limitation and suppression when the tool used to ... Read More

Kings of the Castle

‘Cancel culture isn’t an assault on freedom of speech,” the dishonest argument of the moment goes, “It is free speech.” That isn’t really true, inasmuch as the entire point of “cancel culture” is to limit and suppress speech, which is nonetheless limitation and suppression when the tool used to ... Read More