It’s been a rough 24 hours for frequent CSTB-target Phil Mushnick, with more than a handful of media outlets calling for the NY Post columnist’s firing after he proposed a rather crude new nickname for Brooklyn’s new NBA franchise. Thing is, Phil’s dropping of a (censored) N-bomb didn’t happen in a vacuum. Much as I often disagree with Mushnick and find his worldview limited at best, I don’t believe for a second he’d actually advocate using that slur under any circumstances. Instead, this was another example of his (continued) demonization of Jay-Z. I’m not sure why it’s been so hard for some readers to grasp that Mushnick is protesting the casual use of racial slurs, though he’s clearly picked an inelegant way to do so.
All of that said, if Phil is wondering today why it’s ok for Jay-Z to employ such language but not a columnist for a daily newspaper, I’d humbly suggest that Jay-Z has had a very different sort of conversation happening with his audience. It’s a bit dimwitted to take Phil’s words at face value and conclude he’d genuinely like to see the Nets renamed in a such fashion (or that he’d find such a rebranding humorous). By the same token, Phil has continuously shown a staggering lack of sophistication when it comes to cultural expression other than the types he knows and respects. For years, Phil’s columns have been filled with teeth-gnashing over any number of hip-hop stars getting cuddly with the sports industry. Courtside appearances by Jack Nicholson, James Gandolfini (just to name two thespians who’ve portrayed killers), receive far less criticism, if any at all.
For those who’ve opined Phil can’t handle a young black man like Jay-Z rising to power in the business world, hey, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I think that’s a stretch. The overwhelming majority of Mushnick’s favorite subjects to harangue are older white men ; no one ever confused Vince McMahon, Mike Francesa or James Dolan with a threat to the white status quo. But I do think he’s got an unfortunate blind spot when it comes to a musical genre that’s been a big of the mainstream (if not the day to day lives of his readers, regardless of race) for eons. I would feel bad if Phil’s inability to relate to the modern world is what ends up costing him his job, but fuck, if you go out your way to pen something that’s clearly provocative, you can’t always control what you’re provoked. If Phil is simply alluding to hate speech rather than using it outright, he picked the wrong medium. Take it from me, self-published bloggers without advertisers can be as inelegant as they wanna be, 24-7.