As you’ve likely heard by now, Cam Janssen did a radio interview this week where he said some pretty off-colour things. Some misogynistic, some homophobic, just a real nice mish-mash of things you probably shouldn’t say in public, let alone in private, let alone think.

While the immediate uproar (at least what I saw of it on Twitter) was “sick ‘em!,” Patrick Burke of the You Can Play team saw it as a teaching moment.

He reached out to Janssen, had what sounded like a productive conversation, and not too long after we got the following statement from Cam:

“Earlier this week, I participated in an internet-based radio show in which I used some poor judgment which I now regret. The New Jersey Devils were unaware of this interview, which I arranged myself.

“I would like to apologize for my poor choice of language. The tone of the interview was very casual and off-color, and I lost focus on what is and is not acceptable and professional. I am deeply sorry to anyone who was offended by my language. Moving forward, I hope to eliminate that type of language from my vocabulary. I would also like to take this chance to express my support for the work the You Can Play project is doing, and for the gay community in general.

“I apologize for the embarrassment my comments have caused to the New Jersey Devils management, as well as my teammates.”

Concise, remorseful, appropriate. It even got the thumbs up from the good folks at GLAAD.

And, as Patrick put it himself:

And I totally agree. He’s not “beyond help,” the apology wasn’t fake, it was just a shitty, regrettable interview. And hey, at least it got us talking about a good cause again.

Here’s the one point I want to make about the whole deal: we probably shouldn’t excuse the setting (settings in general, really), given that a hockey dressing room is that interview times five. That’s not to say hockey players are a bunch of pigs, but it’s tough to round up 23 rich males 20-40 years old without finding a half-dozen willing to egg guys into the gutter with them. And hey, it’s mob mentality – it’s real easy to get caught up in the laughs.

So yes, he was goaded on, yes, it’s a trash radio show where the host leads analogies with phrases like “The first time I banged a fat chick…” (what a fucking moron), but still, if we want to use it as a teaching moment, I think it’s important to note that those are the situations where the You Can Play Team wants hockey players to be more aware of their words. Those lowbrow conversations are exactly where the slurs come out, not a fancy dinner party. Anybody can pull it together during, say, a charity visit to the hospital.

This isn’t about Janssen anymore, it’s barely even about changing people’s minds – it’s about awareness, decency and fairness. The “boys will be boys” scenarios are at the root of why dressing rooms are uncomfortable for gay players, and that’s where we need to tidy it up.

Comments (27)

  1. And where is the apology for the fat chicks comment? Where is his support for them now?

    Please. Forgive him for what? He apologized to save his paycheck and we all know that.

    • You want him to apologize to fat chicks? The thing about making generalized jokes about dumb people or fat people is that no one gets offended if they don’t admit to being in that group.

      Nobody says “Hey, I’m a dumb person so I expect an apology.” Comparing homophobia to fat chick jokes belittles the entire movement.

      • It’s not about people being fat, called fat or needing an apology for being called fat. It’s about misogyny.

        • That makes sense. But the comment was “Where’s his apology to fat chicks?” which is so stupid it sounds more like trolling.

  2. Janssen’s apology seems genuine, and not just a canned PR statement covering his ass. Sure, he tries to brush it under the rug a bit by saying it was just an informal internet chat show, but he also says “Moving forward, I hope to eliminate that type of language from my vocabulary”. The thing I look for in any apology isn’t ass-covering and apologizing to vaguely-worded “anyone offended”, the important part is “I learned something, and I’m going to try to improve myself from now on”. Reminds me of Jason Alexander’s popular apology from a while ago (http://www.inquisitr.com/247977/jason-alexanders-apology-for-gay-joke-is-like-basically-a-primer-on-both-apologies-and-being-nice-to-gay-people/)

    • I just read that link, and with respect to you, I can’t understand how you are comparing Cam’s statement with that one. Alexander’s statement is about 15 times longer, mentions the social context of homophobia, the difficulties faced by gay people in a homophobic society, the seriousness of violence against gay people, the need to fight stereotypes, the difficulty of fighting an ingrained cultural ideology, etc., etc. I don’t see even a hint of that awareness in Janssen’s statement and he spends approximately one sentence vaguely referencing his joke about kicking someone’s ass for being gay.

  3. People can be hopeful that he learned a lesson based on the apology. But people can also question the sincerity of an apology that looks like it was written by a committee.

    I’d be more impressed if the Devils stood up and suspended him, even in a minor way, for conduct that it found insulting and demeaning to gays, women, and the other NHL players he threatens. I hope the YCP project doesn’t stop with this apology, and asks the Devils and the League to be more vocal in condemning these types of comments.

  4. Point of awareness: How about the numerous undeclared and unsupported kids that were born out of this ‘bang’ mentality, let alone the stupidity passed on through the dna
    - god help us

  5. Once again the focus is shifted to his homophobic comments. I wish people were equally as disturbed by his misogynistic comments. They were all equally offensive.

    Yes…the misogyny was absolutely acknowledged in this post. Just saying I wish people would pay more attention when people talk about women like trash. Just because he did not reference acts of violence doesn’t make it equally disgusting.

    I have no delusions that this kind of talk doesn’t go on locker rooms. I just like to believe in my heart that there are some guys that think that’s gross too.

    • Completely agreed.

      • “Just because he did not reference acts of violence doesn’t make it equally disgusting”

        I disagree, I think that’s exactly the reason that you can’t treat those comments equally. Both comments were clearly shitty. However, in one comment he suggested beating up a person for being gay. This comment also occurred in the context of a society where gay men are still assaulted and even killed by homophobic idiots. If I’m picking which comment is more concerning, it’s not even close. You might also be seeing the consequences of an increased focus on homophobia in the NHL.

        • Ok, fair enough, the explicit violence of that anti-gay comment definitely made it worse.

          That, however, doesn’t detract from that fact that the misogynistic aspects of what he was saying have only really been mentioned in passing. The dehumanization/objectification of women is a huge reason why there is so much violence towards women.

          • I oversimplified as I told Neil above. Yes what you are saying is absolutely what I was trying to get at. Glad you were able to fill in the blanks and expound. And as a female fan I don’t want want to think that the sport I love doesn’t take those comments seriously. I did a poor job by comparing which comment was “worse.”

            I could have made this shorter by just saying “Yes. What Heart just said!”

        • I see your point. And violence against GLBT folks is disgusting and scary as hell. Any kind of hate crimes continue to shock me because I just don’t operate in a manner that would ever consider treating people that way. Matthew Shepard always comes to mind (among many other folks) when I hear things like this.

          And like Heart said below misogyny also can lead to violence against women.

          Yes I oversimplified my comment. Lots of contextual things to my comment that I didn’t include because it would be a blog post long. When I think of equality in hockey and campaigns like You Can Play and Hockey Against Hate I think about fans not just the locker room. I guess my point is I would like someone to acknowledge that the NHL does not tolerate a culture of homophobia, racism OR misogyny inside or outside the locker room. Just not a good year here in the US of A for ladies either.

          I think we are all on the same page that this is not a guy gay men OR straight women want to hang out with. And what he said was just horrible as a whole.

          Interesting discussion that I wish we were not having to have in this day and age.

          • sb – I can both understand and support your concerns on the misogyny. But in reading the apology I dont believe he is separating the two and apologizing for just the homophobic part. Yes, there is one sentence in there supporting You Can Play and the gay community but aside from that he talks mostly in generalizations about his “off-color comments”.

  6. I hope he actually learned his lesson and didn’t just apologize to get people off his back. The fact that the apology is just for language, not for the sentiment behind the language is troubling but if Janssen really did learn his lesson then the wording doesn’t matter in the long run. Of course, instead of learning to treat people with respect and that words can hurt, he might only have learned to just keep his mouth shut and keep the trash talk private. Who knows….

  7. I don’t really give a shit about him talking like a 20-year-old drunk frat boy. I can’t imagine that the Devils are happy to have him using that kind of language in an interview, but that’s not my business. The only thing that struck me as pretty awful was this:

    “Oh, if he’s sucking [expletive] he’s getting his ass kicked. [Laughter]”

    To me, there isn’t any point in making an apology if you aren’t going to specifically address the fact that you made what appeared to be a fairly serious comment about beating up a guy for being gay. You can’t say something like that and then get out of it with “sorry about my language, I support the gay community”. Personally, that sentence about You Can Play and the gay community makes it sound like Cam really, really didn’t want to back away from his homophobic comments but did so because he appreciated how bad it made him look. He could have said a lot more in just a sentence or two, but he chose not to and focused on his language and a lack of professionalism instead. Just my opinion.

  8. I wasn’t bothered by the bit where he said “sucking cock”, I was bothered by the bit where he said “If you’re sucking cock I’m going to beat you up”. That’s not a language issue, that’s a sentiment issue. That’s a gay-people-are-an-acceptable-target-on-the-ice issue, not because they’re good players that he needs to injure (also kind of a vile sentiment) but just because they’re gay.

    There was sooooo much more wrong with what he said than the language, the language is just easy to apologise for.

  9. I do get a kick out of all the phony “outrage” over this. If you’re offended by this, then stop watching hockey. Because I PROMISE YOU what he said is extremely tame compared to what gets chirped from hockey benches at almost every level during games at opposing players. Demanding an apology for fat chicks? LOL. Please. They should try exercise and proper diet, then they wouldn’t have the issue to begin with. Sorry, no sympathy for fat chicks. We used to celebrate their ridicule. Ever watch Married With Children? “Fat lady walked into the shoe store today…….” starting off many episodes. It was/is hilarious. You know what offends me? Political Correctness to the nauseating level that it’s gotten to. And I absolutely refuse to play along.

    And just once I’d like one of these athletes to refuse to apologize. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Rest assured, he is NOT sorry. And nor should he be. Grow a thicker skin. The world doesn’t conform to your delicate sensibilities.

    • I guarantee you that it *isn’t* phony outrage. I’m glad that you have the privilege not to worry about discrimination and violence towards your person based on your gender/sexual preference/weight/the colour of your skin(?) – other people don’t have that luxury and take this all *extremely* seriously.

    • Married with Children was/is an awful show.

  10. Oh Jesus, all he’s doing is just spouting off. You see him out beating up gay guys? Nope. And there are plenty of slothful fat guys out there that are discriminated against every bit as much as fat women are. And you know which group of people are ridiculing them? Women.

    And Married With Children was a great show. It just was the furthest thing from being PC…….something our current society could use much more of instead of this soft, delicate, easily offended, walking on eggshells mess we live in today. Like I said, grow a thicker skin. Or better yet, just mind your own business and stop worrying about what everybody else is doing and/or saying. It’s not our responsibility or obligation to conform to what YOU think is appropriate.

    • People shown disregard and disrespect day in and day out from their entire culture – from Married With Children to sports radio to disproportionate homicide rates – face a lot more cold hard reality than it sounds like you’ve ever had to, Dave. Business doesn’t get much more personal.

      • Perhaps with regard to being gay in this instance, which I believe is genetic and not a matter of choice. But too many groups of people in our society love laying blame at the feet of others rather than accepting accountability for their own situations……which often times they’ve created for themselves. And in those situations, I feel absolutely no responsibility to play the PC game to make them feel better about the choices they’ve made. And allowing yourself to become grossly out of shape (fat) through laziness and garbage diet is a choice.

        And even then, I still don’t feel any responsibility whatsoever to alter my way of interacting with others in order to conform to an evermore PC society. I have gay friends, and I rib them with gay jokes right to their face. It’s not mean spirited, and they give it right back to me. We have thick skin and have a good laugh. Gay people are much tougher than you’re giving them credit for. They have much thicker skins than upwards of 90% of the people who think they’re standing up for them. Trust me, they don’t need you.

        Don’t know where you’re coming from on the “disproportionate homicide rate” thing……..unless you’re going into a racial argument with regard to black-n-black crime.

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