Here’s what Seattle Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger had to say yesterday on the topic of police violence, Black Lives Matter, and the protests in Charlotte. Both tweets have since been deleted, and his account is now set to private:
At this point, you know exactly who Steve Clevenger is, and what to think of him. If you’re like me, you consider him just another dumb white racist in a sea of dumb white racists. If you’re the kind of person who will be supporting Donald Trump in November, you probably think he’s a brave truth-telling hero. Regardless of what we believe, and regardless of who’s right (me), we get Steve Clevenger. There’s no mystery here.
Next, the Mariners released a statement saying they were “disappointed” at the tweets, and “strongly disagree with the language and tone of his comments.” Clevenger, apparently realizing he’s a career Triple-A player who is batting .221 with the big club and isn’t anywhere near good enough to get away with this kind of shit, especially in a liberal town like Seattle, issued the inevitable apology.
Except, of course, this apology came “through” his agent, who reached out to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal, who then posted the apology on his Facebook page. Here’s what it said, and I apologize in advance for putting you through this bullshit immersion word torture:
“First and foremost I would like to apologize to the Seattle Mariners, my teammates, my family and the fans of our great game for the distraction my tweets on my personal twitter page caused when they went public earlier today. I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms. My tweets were reactionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded beyond poorly at best and I can see how and why someone could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I actually feel.
“I grew up on the streets of Baltimore, a city I love to this very day. I grew up in a very culturally diverse area of America and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my inner circle of friends has never been defined by race but by the content of their character. Any former teammate or anyone who has met me can attest to this and I pride myself on not being a judgemental person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill worded tweet.
“I do believe that supporting our First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive. With everything going on in the world I really just want what is best for everyone regardless of who they are. I like many Americans are frustrated by a lot of things in the world and I would like to be a part of the dialogue moving forward to make this a better world for everyone.
“I once again apologize to anyone who was offended today and I just ask you not judge me off of a social media posting. Thank you and God bless everyone.”
To me, this “apology” is almost worse than the original tweet. Here’s why:
1. There’s no way in hell Steve Clevenger wrote any of this. To refresh your memory, this is what Steve Clevenger sounds like when he’s writing:
There he is, your run-of-the-mill racist. Here’s how he doesn’t sound: “I would like to be a part of the dialogue moving forward to make this a better world for everyone.”
The fact is, this was either written by his agent, or by someone else working in a PR capacity on behalf of Clevenger and his agent. It’s insincere, third-party damage control. Anyone who treats it like it’s actually coming from Clevenger, or gives it any sort of credence as an actual apology, is a dupe. This is a meaningless smokescreen tactic. The real Steve Clevenger is still a dumb racist, and still thinks those “animals” should be locked up.
2. The statement is annoyingly vague. The only chance he had at a real apology was to take the side of the protesters, which would have been weird since clearly he’s on the side of the police and doesn’t like demonstrative black people. But the halfway route of trying to endorse both sides is both phony and infuriating. Take this passage:
I do believe that supporting our First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive. With everything going on in the world I really just want what is best for everyone regardless of who they are.
What the fuck does this even mean? You’ve just finished telling us that you don’t want what’s best for everyone—you want the bad black thug people locked up, and you also hate Black Lives Matter and Obama. And when I say “you,” I of course mean your agent, and while it’s nice that your agent thinks that both sides are awesome, there’s no reason anyone should any of this seriously as it pertains to you, Steve Clevenger, an actual real-life racist.
3. He goes right for the “I have black friends” argument, with the classic “I grew up around black people” clause:
“I grew up on the streets of Baltimore, a city I love to this very day. I grew up in a very culturally diverse area of America and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my inner circle of friends has never been defined by race but by the content of their character. Any former teammate or anyone who has met me can attest to this and I pride myself on not being a judgemental person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill worded tweet.”
Gross. Shouldn’t PR people be more savvy than to lean on this long-discredited strategy? Also, I love the idea that these tweets represented a dark side of Clevenger that rarely sees the light of day…as though he’s reading Ta-Nehisi Coates in his spare time, and not saying even worse shit when he’s out of the public eye.
In the end, I don’t really care about Steve Clevenger. He’s not unique, and this tempest in a tea cup will be, by far, the most fame he ever achieves. We won’t have to deal with his nonsense for years to come, because he’s 30 years old and not good enough at baseball to stick around for very long at the highest level.
Instead, let’s use this moment to educate ourselves on the stupidity of the PR-crafted apology. It doesn’t come from the player, it’s not sincere, and we should treat it with nothing but the heavy dose of scorn it so deeply deserves.