Nov 12, 2008

President of Lithuanian Basketball Federation Not Guilty of Criminal Racism...

...too bad Lithuania doesn't have laws against criminal stupidity -- yet.

The president of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation Vladas Garastas [pictured, sorta] was found not guilty of instigating racial hatred by referring to the black players on the Zalgiris basketball team as "negroes" and "blackies."

Jen writes: This is a bizarre story. I'm not defending the guy (there is strong racism in Lithuania) but if you were racist, why would you go into basketball?!?

Why? So that you could say charming things like, "Now about the negro playing in Zalgiris, I would expel him immediately. Zygimantas Janavicius is twice as good as he is...Education, there's no education there, with only the blackies playing."
We sure seem to be on a racism kick these days, but the more attention we can give it, the better – lest it fester.


Dmitri Minaev said...

I'm feeling awkward that it's my second comment here and once again I play the role of a devil's advocate... Sorry.

So, what I wanted to say is that in many languages, including Russian and, very probably, Lithuanian, the word 'negro' is still a neutral term, having not a shade of hostility. Well, unless pronounced with a scornful grimace, of course. So, probably, the word 'blacky' (something like 'juodas', I assume) also has no negative connotations in Lithuanian.

And the expressed eagerness to expel any negro from Zalgiris, Garastas is probably simply worried by the declining number of outstanding Lithuanian players who might replace such legends like Sabonis or Kurtinaitis or Jovaiša.

What I mean is that it's very difficult to judge by translation. Similarly sounding words may have very dissimilar meaning.

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

The devil is always welcome at Eternal Remont, especially his advocate. =)

Your point about the use of "negro" is well-taken. In fact, many speakers of regional languages note there are far, far worse words that can be used in place of "negro."

Jaybird said...

Kauno Diena - same paper that broke the story - once translated this intrepid traveler’s "pretty cool" into, well, "gražai šalta", so yes, we understand Lithuanian nuance or lack thereof.