The tweets, which were revealed late last night, were sent in 2011 and 2012 while he was playing ball at North Carolina State University. They primarily involve homophobic slurs, referring to friends or others derogatorily as “fa***t” or “gay” and repeating a racially-insentive line from the movie “White Chicks.” If you’re interested, you can see them here. They have since been deleted from Twitter, but nothing ever really disappears on the Internet.
Turner issued a statement through the Nationals apologizing for his tweets.
“There are no excuses for my insensitive and offensive language on Twitter. I am sincerely sorry for those tweets and apologize wholeheartedly,” Turner said. “I believe people who know me understand those regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am. But I understand the hurtful nature of such language and am sorry to have brought any negative light to the Nationals organization, myself or the game I love.”
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo also released a statement on Sunday night:
“I have spoken with Trea regarding the tweets that surfaced earlier tonight. He understands that his comments – regardless of when they were posted – are inexcusable and is taking full responsibility for his actions,” Rizzo said. “The Nationals organization does not condone discrimination in any form, and his comments in no way reflect the values of our club. Trea has been a good teammate and model citizen in our clubhouse, and these comments are not indicative of how he has conducted himself while part of our team. He has apologized to me and to the organization for his comments.”
It’s been less than two weeks since this business of players’ old, ugly tweets resurfacing began, but we’ve clearly already fallen into a predictable pattern that will likely be repeated more or less identically when this happens:
1. Tweets uncovered;
2. Player offers apology of moderate-at-best acceptability, with some reference to that not being “who I am,” while not explaining who he was when he made the tweets, why he thought they were acceptable then and what has changed in his life to make him different now, apart from being caught being a jackwagon six or seven years ago;
3. MLB ordering sensitivity training or what have you.
Which, sure, I suppose that’s the only way this sort of thing is likely to go. What seems to be missing in all of this is any discussion of why someone, in the year 2011 or 2012, still felt it was totally OK to say stuff like that publicly and why no one noticed it before now, even if — as was the case with Turner — he was a notable athlete with a pretty high profile, even then.
The answer, I suspect, is that a lot of young athletes — like a lot of young men — are basically idiots who lack empathy for marginalized people and thus feel it’s cool to use slurs and stuff like that so casually. Maybe we should ask ourselves why that’s the case and what we can do about that.