You can read my initial thoughts on Micheal Irvin's bizaare commments here, and my follow-up comments here and here. You can also read some interesting takes at Leave the Man Alone here and here.
First of all, I want to emphasize a few points that I've noted before.
1. Explicit comments that make note of racial stereotypes and assumptions get attacked when implicit comments are more prevalent, more damaging, and largely ignored from discourse. Take note whenever a white wide receiver is referred to as "deceptively fast" or having "deceptive speed," and tell me there aren't all sorts of implicit assumptions about race and athleticism.
2. White people complaining about a "double standard" that benefits minorities is the height reactionary, ridiculous hypocricy. There is still all sorts of institutional and individual racism in America, but we're supposed to be uptight because members of minorities get away with saying things that members of the majority can't?
PFT has some new stuff on Irvin's comments, and as usual, there are some dopey comments. There are links to columns by Nancy Gay, Marc Narducci, and Scott Bordow about the incident.
Narducci is sort of stupid. He says, "Those who ever get in front of a microphone should be smart enough to stay away from racial stereotyping, even if something is said supposedly in jest."
OK, tell that to every standup comedian. Have you people seen The Aristocrats? How about Chappelle's Show? Sometimes joking about an issue is a good way to actually deal with an issue.
Narducci goes on, "Whether the person thinks he or she is being funny isn't the point. Race is a serious subject and no matter how lighthearted a remark, it is bound to offend a certain segment of viewers or listeners."
In America, we don't have the right to not be offended. I'm sure there are some racist southerners who are "offended" that a black man is even allowed to speak on TV. Do you care about offending such people? Me neither. If commentators are going to worry about offending "a certain segment of viewers or listeners," we're not left with much of anything.
Narducci says, "While anybody can make a mistake, this lapse of judgment would be serious enough to warrant at the least a suspension and at the most dismissal, especially in these politically correct times."
"Political correctness" is a stupid concept. It's lame, hypocritical, and rarely used for things that are truly regulated by political correctness (you want real political correctness? Try saying something bad about U.S. soldiers. It's "politically incorrect" to do so, but nobody refers to that as political correctness). There's some possible circular logic here, but possibly not, so I won't dissect that.
Bordow says that "The same standard should be used for the black commentator as the white commentator." Maybe. But when the same standards are used for judgment and treatment of black people in America as for white people, I'll start complaining that a black commentator gets less punishment for racially awkward comments than a white commentator gets.
My interest in this issue is the reaction. I'm interested in issues like use of language, free speech, and racial equality, and I've found this a story that features all of that.
I don't think Micheal Irvin's comments about Tony Romo are the equivalent of Rush Limbaugh's comments about Donovan McNabb. In the former case, a member of the minority made a joke using stereotypes of the majority and the minority. In the latter case, a member of the majority suggested that a member of the minority is overrated BECAUSE he's a member of the minority. That's not the same thing, even though some sportswriters are reacting as if it is.