When I stood for the national anthem at Petco Park last Saturday, I had no idea I was about to witness the makings of a scandal that would receive nationwide news coverage. Even after the recording finished and the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus shuffled awkwardly off the field, I didn't think much of it. It seemed to me that someone in the control booth had cued up the wrong audio file; an embarrassing mistake, but not a Roseanne-level catastrophe. The Padres would apologize to the chorus and have them perform at another game while the person responsible would get disciplined. Maybe the control room team puts together procedures for future mistakes of that nature. Minimal fuss, and everyone goes home as happy as possible. And sure enough, the Padres had a statement out before the end of the game.
That was Saturday night. By the time I had a chance to get on Twitter Sunday morning, everything had gone sideways.
When the chorus released their statement, barely twelve hours had passed since the anthem. It had been eight hours since the extra-innings affair ended, and the afternoon rubber match meant the ballpark was already gearing up for another forty thousand fans. In the best of situations, it was unlikely for the team to have been able to resolve the chorus's complaints in that time frame.
But then the chorus made the situation even worse than it already was. In demanding satisfaction, they tossed Occam's Razor out the window and asked for investigations by Major League Baseball to determine if "anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime" were perpetrated. I'm a straight, white, cis man, so I will never, ever know what's like to be the victim of a hate crime. or have my voice systematically silenced, but putting a woman's voice over mine doesn't seem like that.
It did get them what they wanted, though. After Twitter and Facebook leapt on the story and pressed the team for a response, the Padres issued another statement Sunday evening.
Someone got fired, someone got reprimanded, and the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus received a second public apology, in addition to the private apologies they had already been given. So everything's good and okay now, right?
When we get angry about something without understanding the people and processes that have led to it, that anger tends to be unfocused and unrestrained, and well-meaning people can get hurt. Like DJ ArtForm, who apologized to the Chorus on Facebook yesterday and in a radio interview with 1090's Scott and BR.
And now the Chorus has released another statement requesting DJ ArtForm have his job with the Padres reinstated.
We also would like to publicly accept the sincere apology of DJ ARTFORM and recognize his support for the LGBT community and equality for all people. We do not wish to see him lose his job with the San Diego Padres and kindly ask the Padres to reinstate him. Everyone deserves a second chance.
"Everyone deserves a second chance." I believe that, but that's certainly not the impression I gathered from the Chorus's first statement. They wanted blood and they got it.
Of course, they're not the only ones who demanded a human sacrifice. Over the last several days I've seen Padres fans left and right calling for heads of their own... mostly Mike Dee. Not that they wanted Dee gone because of the error on Saturday; no, these were fans who already hated him and were perfectly happy to co-opt the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus to act out inane vendettas against the Padres President and CEO.
As far as I'm concerned, the only person who comes out of this looking like a reasonable adult is DJ ArtForm. Everybody else can go sit in a corner and think about what they've done.