Saturday, June 4, 2011

Special Emergency TWIOT: Joe Rogan and the Power of Intent

Pictured: The Problem
Photo Credit: Celebrity Clubber
Warning: I'm 'bout to get real explicit with my language up in here. If you can't take seeing certain words, even if they're used out of context or as just exposition for the guys who've said them in the context of this story, then you might want to avert your eyes. Asterisks aren't used here.

There's a fourfold controversy going on in the world of MMA/UFC right now. I'll break it down for you in each of its four parts.

- Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has this reputation of harassing reporters, either sexually or physically, depending on gender.

- Maggie Hendricks, a well-respected MMA blogger in the Yahoo family (the same family that gives us Puck Daddy and Dr. Saturday, two blogs that come with highest marks from yours truly), wrote a column urging her colleagues in the MMA journalist world not to indulge Jackson and to shut him out until something is done about his behavior.

- Joe Rogan, employee of UFC (I can't stress that part enough), took to an Internet message board and basically called Hendricks "cunty" for expressing that opinion.

- Brandon Stroud of With Leather wrote his own column taking Rogan to task for his comments.

Of the four parts of the controversy, only three are really controversial and worth talking about in depth. Unless you're a troglodyte who thinks that Jackson should be allowed to exert his will over anyone he damn well pleases, then you should be able to pick it out in a second. Hendricks column was needed and she is absolutely blameless in this scenario. If you blame her for writing the column, or call her a cunt, or suggest anyone defending her is a "white knight", or think that criticism = bashing the sport, then I really don't value your opinion on this subject.

The root of the matter here is Jackson, his actions and his borderline sociopathic tendencies. If he doesn't harass journalists, then a journalist doesn't have to call him out. Furthermore, UFC, a company that is searching so badly for mainstream acceptance, should be taken to task for not doing anything about Jackson's bad behavior. I guarantee you if Ron Artest did the same things to reporters that Jackson did, David Stern would bring the hammer down on him so fast that Artest might be struck sane by the gravity of the situation. This is the part of the equation everyone should focus on hardest. Dana White needs to be taken to task for his insane double standards. Brock Lesnar, a guy he plucked from pro wrestling, cuts a pro wrestling promo that might upset a sponsor, and he's chided, despite the fact that with that promo, he brings in fan interest that might offset the sponsor fallout. Rampage Jackson harasses journalists, and he does nothing. No wonder it took MMA so long to be sanctioned in New York.

Everything else after is bluster. Entertaining bluster in some regards, but bluster no less. B-Stroud said what needed to be said in his column re: Rogan, no doubt. Did he take potshots? Yeah, he did, and I bet he'll admit it himself. The reasoning? What bigger potshot does one take than calling someone's opinion "cunty" because she dared look out for the safety of her colleagues? Maybe if he took the more direct route and just called her a "cunt" outright, it'd have screamed out more, but alas, this is what we have to work with here. I think if you focus on the broad generalizations, then you might miss the point that Brandon tried to make. Was it a mistake on his part? Maybe it was, but then again, part of the charm of With Leather, as well as the Uproxx family of blogs, is that the acerbic language, snark and sometimes vitriol come with the territory. Is it counterproductive? It might be, but I doubt that they write for an audience that appreciates tact.

The fact is, a guy like Rogan, who is actually pretty sharp otherwise and a guy that I've enjoyed listening to on other occasions and on other topics, should see that. Instead, he took the low road. Remember, his comments came before Stroud wrote his column, and he basically took to task ALL bloggers like some scion of the Buzz Bissinger who appeared on HBO, raking Will Leitch over the coals because he thought all bloggers were scum. (Ironically enough, Bissinger writes for a blog now and has reconciled with Leitch as well as "Big Daddy Drew" Magary, whom he famously mislabeled on the show as "Big Daddy Balls". His Twitter account is also crazy-unhinged and a must-follow.) He basically maligned Hendricks as a journalist because of the platform she wrote on. This feels very uncharacteristic for a guy who confronted Carlos Mencia for stealing jokes or who is progressive in so many other areas. It's actually disappointing. Not all bloggers sit in their mothers' basements and write diatribes that make no headway. Many blogs out there do good work and are actually progressive themselves in how they report news. That being said, that's not where the debate lies (I've taken this column off-track a lot, haven't I?)

The point is that Rogan, as an employee of UFC, fosters an attitude that is deplorable and that should be reprimanded instead of ignored. Basically, he used a word, "cunty" to describe someone who didn't want to be harassed anymore. He is basically excusing the criminal behavior of a co-worker and a possible friend in Jackson for whatever reason. That screams impropriety to me. Just think of the implications. If Hendricks is "cunty" for espousing an opinion that men shouldn't force themselves on women or weaker men, then why do we have assault laws on the books? Why should a woman have to consent to sex? She's a "cunt" if she refuses, especially if the predator can force it out of her anyway. In that case, screw the Constitution, might is now right, and fuck, let's start constructing the Thunderdome. Get Tina Turner to serenade the construction workers as they build1.

If Rogan were an independent contractor or an employee of a content distributor like so many other announcers are in legitimate sport, this would be bad. The fact that he's employed by the biggest MMA company in the world? That makes it worse. I'm not one to wax about image, but at the same time, this isn't an image problem. It points to a problem of an institutional disregard for the law and for the rights of people not to be harassed, sexually or otherwise, on the job. It's also way unfair to the guys who show up, fight, and keep to themselves otherwise. You think Lesnar deserves to be lumped in with these meatheads? Or Frank Mir? Or Randy Couture? Georges St. Pierre? It's bad enough goofs like Chael Sonnen are idiots in their own time, but when Jackson is fondling reporters or punching people in the crotch, and Rogan is passively defending it by calling the whistle-blowers "cunty", well, that's the kind of shit that Jim Tressel was nailed to the plank for at Ohio State. It's not for the exact same actions, but when your institution is corrupt, everyone suffers. It's not fair, and that's why it's wrong.

Again, you can be pissed at Stroud for his broad generalizations - I personally am not because Rogan, while not deserving of them like others in that very thread were, brought them upon himself by making ad hominem attacks at Hendricks in the first place - you can't dismiss his column because the message in it is solid. Blustering about who writes what is silly in this situation anyway. I mean, the real problem here is Rampage Jackson. Full. Stop. If you can't see that he's a problem, then I don't know if I want to know you. The fact that Rogan uses hateful language to diffuse criticism of Jackson deserves to be called out. Rogan is wrong here. Don't tell me he has a great podcast. Don't tell me he's intellectual. Don't tell me that he entertains you. He may have, be or do all those things, and yeah, I may have agreed with you before he made his unfortunate comments. But don't defend him from his own stupidity.

The intent behind his words was malicious. We can't have a company going around assenting to its employees committing borderline felonies on the general public. Well, in theory we can't. Who knows, maybe if the fall out from this gets more intense, they'll get a bailout from the Federal Government...

...haha, I know, I know, terrible joke. Either way though, Rampage Jackson is the problem here, not Maggie Hendricks. Joe Rogan needs to see that. Whether he's got blinders on for UFC or whether he really believes that you're "cunty" if you don't want to be raped is regardless. That kind of shit can't be tolerated.

1 - Thanks to friend of the blog and TWB superfan Tom Kingsmill for that reference.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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