(a delicious taco for Bob Griese, courtesy of Torchy’s)

ESPN suspended college football analyst Bob Griese today for the former Dolphins QB’s ill-advised remarks about Colombian NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya during Saturday’s Minnesota/Ohio State game.  The Big Lead’s Ty Duffy considers ESPN’s actions kowtowing to “PC fascists”, surmising, “political correctness has a place, but that place should be weeding out legitimate racism, rather than hounding an innocuous old man for a minor incident.”

Bob Griese mistook Juan Pablo Montoya for a Mexican. Montoya is Columbian. Griese could be old whitey mistaking all Latin Americans for Mexicans, but it™s far more likely he was just unaware.  He had no time to google.

Assuming Griese was genuine, the taco comment wasn™t offensive.  Mexicans eat tacos.  They are an indigenous part of their cuisine.  They predate the Spanish.  There™s nothing demeaning about eating a taco.

Saying a Mexican is eating a taco is like saying an Englishman drinks tea, an Irishman went out for a pint, or an American was eating a hambuger.  It™s a stereotype.  There certainly are Mexican people who don™t like tacos, but it™s not a gross disparagement of Mexican culture.

Griese™s gag was lame but not scandalous.  It would have appeared in a Dan Shaughnessy column.

Though I have no desire to see Bob Griese lose his job over one isolated incident, it’s pretty hard to understand why said incident should be excused as inoffensive merely because some people weren’t offended.  On the Colombian/Mexican question, ignorance is a poor excuse. The phrase, “they all look alike” comes to mind, and unless Disney believes they really all do look alike, they’re smart to kick Griese to the curb, even if temporarily.

“There’s nothing demeaning about eating a taco.”  Hey, you might think there’s nothing demeaning about eating watermelon, either, and Rick Barry‘s still dealing with the fallout from that one. Anytime you choose to describe someone in terms that specifically target their ethnicity (or what you presume to be their ethnicity) rather than their individual characteristics, they’re reduced to a caricature.

Griese could’ve skewered Montoya for his reputation for arrogance (“he’s probably kissing a mirror somewhere”) or for aggressive driving. Instead, he went after the first thing that popped into his tiny head ; Latino = taco chomping. If that’s the kind of free expression Duffy wishes to defend, perhaps TBL can take up a petition drive to have Steve Lyons replace Steve Phillips on Baseball Tonight next spring.