Forrest Griffin tweeting out a joke about rape became a big story given the timing of the UFC’s Fox debut. The story of his tweet was picked up by major online media sources and it led to a questioning of the UFC’s embrace of Twitter and associated reward system while refusing to hold fighters accountable for harmful tweets.
Forrest has now apologized to a local rape crisis center whose executive director said “The entire comment was disgusting and insensitive.” Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV has Griffin’s apology:
“I like to cause trouble, I like to stir the pot and I like to make a mess of things, but I really do not want to be mean or malicious to anyone. I feel bad, I want to apologize, I feel like a should be punished a little bit. Maybe other professional athletes or just guys in locker rooms can kind of be more sensitive towards the topic of rape. Once you take the comments in the light of day you feel disgusted by it, but at the time you don’t think.”
The story also said that Forrest made a donation to the center.
This is a positive step in at least admitting that the tweet was ill advised.
The issue for me has never been one of “does Forrest Griffin endorse rape?” or anything so absurd. It’s that, as stated earlier, Twitter is a public forum and one that the UFC has embraced in a way that forces athletes who can be rewarded to also be held accountable. It’s important to the UFC’s image as a legitimate major sport and it’s also just decent behavior.
Forrest was a police officer, I’m sure he has seen the impact of rape on human lives in person and I doubt that his intent was ever malicious, but it also contributes to fostering a certain environment in the sport.
The absolutely vile e-mails and comments that were sent my way for running articles about the tweet (including one e-mail wishing that I had a daughter who was gang-raped in front of me) or the disgusting comments on Maggie Hendricks of Yahoo’s article on the situation (many of which wished rape on her as well) and even comments on articles saying that the author “sounds like a woman” all are a part of establishing a very specific type of culture.
Trust me, I’m a big boy, I can take any number of awful things being said to me, but there is a larger thing at play. When we then have fans and fighters making light of something like rape and making sure that it’s understood that somehow having a moral objection to such is somehow feminine, it adds to this culture and feeds the beast.
That is what has to change in the culture of MMA if it’s ever going to be seen as more than a hyper-macho niche sport.
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