Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” — a hell of a lot of smoking for a cartoon … and vague politics

smoking the wind rises 2
“The Wind Rises.” Check out the ashtray


This is going to be an odd critique of Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises,” but I was glad to see that the L.A. Times several months ago made some points similar to the ones I’m going to focus on.

Miyazaki is probably the most famous animator in Japanese history. His famous movies include “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” He won an Academy Award for best animated film (Spirited Away) and about a million awards in Japan.

“The Wind Rises” is supposedly Miyazaki’s last film. It’s an odd film, with very little real conflict. There’s no real bad guys. It has a story, but not really a plot. It’s also incredibly beautiful, Miyazaki is a genius in a dying art form — the hand-drawn motion picture. Even in Japan, fewer and fewer anime are being done by hand in this day and age as computer animation is far less labour-intensive.

smoking the wind rises 1
Jiro in “The Wind Rises”


The movie was controversial in both Japan and America because it’s basically about the guy who designed the Zero. You know, the planes that bombed Pearl Harbor. The Zero at the time was considered the most advanced fighter plane ever designed, and it took the U.S. two or three years to catch up with equally well designed fighter planes.

Anyway, that aspect of the film is a bit jarring, but I actually get it (More on that later.).

What I noticed with my one-track mind is that there is a buttload of smoking in “The Wind Rises.” I mean a lot of smoking — ashtrays stuffed full of cigarettes, restaurants clouded with smoke, etc. That really blew me away. I’ve never seen so much cigarette smoking in a cartoon before.

Yubaba in Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”


The film is rated PG, but it’s also a Japanese film. You would never see this much cigarette smoking in an American PG movie in this day of age — thank goodness. (And I would like think without blowing my horn too much that I played a small part in helping to make that happen.)

Two things to keep in mind. The Japanese have a somewhat different view of smoking than Americans. They aren’t as down on it as Americans. Japan is one of the few developed countries that has no nationwide smoking ban and few rules on where people can smoke. As near as I can tell, the most strident smoking rule in Japan is no smoking on trains and subways.

The second thing to remember is Miyazaki very much does things his way. He makes his movies the way he wants without being told how to make them. Thus, a lot of his films don’t really fit easy molds that Americans are used to seeing from American animation. His films can be morally ambiguous (as I think “The Wind Rises” is) where it can be hard to identify who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

Porco Rosso in Miyazaki’s “Porco Rosso”


I thought it was just me being anal about seeing so much smoking in a movie in the this day and age, but the L.A. Times actually wrote about the controversy over the smoking in the film.

According to the L.A. Times:

The Wind Rises should also come with a health warning, according to Japanese doctors who have criticised the director for his frequent portrayals of smoking.

In an open letter to Miyazaki’s production company, Studio Ghibli, the Japan Society for Tobacco Control said the gratuitous depictions of smoking gave the impression that the tobacco habit was socially acceptable, even among minors.

In Miyazaki’s defence, the film’s many smoking scenes are at least a nod to the social mores of the times. The Wind Rises is set in the 1920s and 30s, before the harmful health effects of tobacco were fully known and when Japanese, among others, were enthusiastic smokers.

Despite Miyazaki’s attention to historical detail, the physicians were particularly unhappy about a scene in which the lead character smokes as he holds the hand of his bedridden wife, who is suffering from tuberculosis.

“Why did smoking have to be included in a scene where the objective is to depict the couple’s relationship, especially the woman’s state of mind?” the letter said. “There must have been another way to express that.”

I would have to agree that the depiction of smoking in the movie appeared “gratuitous.” That is the word I would have used. Sure, everyone smoked back then, but then guys also tended to smack women and kids around a lot more back then, and I didn’t see any of that in “The Wind Rises.” You don’t have to show every bad habit from history to make a “historically accurate” film.

“Granny” smoking in “Howl’s Moving Castle”


The other thing to remember about Miyazaki is there is a lot of smoking in most of his films. There is smoking in the “Castle of Cagliostro,” “Porco Rosso,” “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” Again, I come back to Miyazaki isn’t going to take smoking out of his films just because some people disapprove and the Japanese attitude toward smoking is different from the American attitude. These are all kids’ movies geared toward children aged 6-12, and in all of them (especially “Spirited Away”), there is a lot of smoking. I didn’t plow through all of Miyazaki’s movies to see if I could find smoking in “Laputa” or “Valley of the Wind” or “Princess Mononoke,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s smoking scenes in those movies.

Now, that I got that rant out of my system, let’s return to the idea of moral ambiguity of “The Wind Rises.” What is jarring for a lot of people is that this is a sympathetic film about the real-life person who designed the Zero.

But, there is a clever dual plot going on here. Our protagonist Jiro, loves aviation and loves designing beautiful airplanes (Miyazaki, a pilot himself, has been obsessed with flight and airplanes and unusual airplane designs during his entire career). He wants to come up with the perfect fighter plane. This film takes place a few years before the horrors of Nanking and Bataan and Okinawa, so Jiro is blissfully ignorant of the atrocities to come, though he is given cryptic warnings that Japan is about the “blow up” from a German visitor.

Jiro also falls madly in love with a young woman, Naoka, but she quickly warns him that she is seriously ill with TB. Jiro doesn’t care, he plunges straight ahead into his doomed love affair with Naoka, knowing full well she will likely not live long and that his love for her will not end happily. In the same way, Jiro plows straight ahead in designing his beautiful fighter plane, all the while likely knowing his love of aircraft design will not end happily. The parallels are clear. When you love something deeply, you can’t let go of it, even if you know full well your love is doomed.

As far as Miyazaki’s politics, let’s make it clear. He loves airplanes and admires the Zero, but is no fan of militarism or Japanese nationalism (and truthfully, his political views are not very apparent in “The Wind Rises.”). He’s an avowed socialist and environmentalist. Miyazaki got slammed pretty hard in both Japan and America about the vague politics of “The Wind Rises,” but his response is pretty awesome.

Again, I quote from the L.A. Times:

But they (Japanese Nationalists) were most angered by an essay Miyazaki had written to coincide with the film’s release in which he condemned Japan’s modern-day drift to the right, including plans by the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to revise the country’s pacifist constitution (to allow a stronger military).

“It goes without saying that I am against constitutional reform,” Miyazaki wrote in Neppu, Studio Ghibli’s in-house monthly magazine. In a thinly veiled reference to Abe, he went on to accuse Japan’s modern-day politicians of attempting to sanitise the country’s wartime conduct.

“I’m taken aback by the lack of knowledge among government and political party leaders on historical facts,” he said. “People who don’t think enough shouldn’t meddle with the constitution.”

OK, I’m slightly befuddled by the nuances of “The Wind Rises,” but I’m secure that Miyazaki is not romantic about returning to an Imperial Japan.

Lung cancer silences another great voice — Joe Cocker dies


Joe Cocker died Dec. 22 of lung cancer. He was 70 years old.

Cocker is mostly known for his gravelly voice, unusual spastic performing style and a string of big hits in the 70s and 80s (“You Are So Beautiful” and “Up Where We Belong”), and of course his incendiary version of “A Little Help From My Friends” at Woodstock. He was also known to be the target of a spot-on hilarious parody by John Belushi.

Joe Cocker

Back in the day, Cocker was almost as legendary for his heavy drinking and heroin use as he was for his music. Ironic that the alcohol and drugs didn’t kill him … lung cancer did. His good friend George Harrison also died of lung cancer several years ago.


Of course, not that it completely matters, and I hesitate to even go here .. but he did smoke (and this blog is about the dangers of tobacco), though he says he quit in 1991. Here is a passage from a 2000 newspaper interview (and a surprisingly large part of this article is about Joe’s smoking):

Joe Cocker in his prime must have made Joe Camel proud.

“I used to smoke about 40 a day at one time — cigarettes,” says the blue-eyed British growler, the clarifier hinting at a past full of ingestible vices.

Some left marks on a voice already famous for texture. A typical Cocker hit — 1969’s Feelin’ Alright, 1975’s You Are So Beautiful, 1990’s When the Night Comes — sounded heart-wrenching and pipe-wrenching, too. That style, a throat full of soul, turned r&b and rock covers into classics.

But a fine line separates nicely ravaged from shot. Cocker, who opens for Tina Turner on Wednesday at the National Car Rental Center, didn’t want to cross that line if he planned to keep singing.

“I quit [smoking] about nine years ago,” says the Sheffield, England, native, “and that’s made a world of difference.”

I hope Joe and John are sharing a Guinness together right now.

Really awkward and uncomfortable ad for COPD medication Symbicort

I saw this ad in National Geographic, and frankly, I just kind of blanched when I saw it.

I get the point. It’s an ad for Symbicort, which aids in breathing for people dealing with COPD. It’s a drawing of the Big Bad Wolf trying to burn down the pigs’ house, but he can’t because he has COPD. (There is also a television commercial with the same motif that I have never seen)

That part isn’t too weird, but what bothered me, was a depiction of the three little pigs laughing at the wolf with COPD. It made me think they’re making fun of someone strugging to breathe because of their COPD.

I dunno, maybe I’m reading too much into it and being anal retentive about it, but it bugged me. It didn’t outrage me, it didn’t infuriate me (Like Rand Paul blaming cigarette taxes for Eric Garner’s death). The depiction of people laughing at someone with COPD simply bothered me. On every level imaginable, COPD is not a joke and it’s not funny. It came off tone deaf and awkward.

Cigarettes are somehow anti-Christian?


Haruko found this for me. On Raw Story, a bunch of creepy old  Christian cartoons. (It’s been years since I’ve had one of those creepy mini-comic books jammed into my front door, but I remember them.)

Among the comics included, some pretty weird one about how a guy is headed on a path to Hell because he is teaching other kids to smoke. He offers a cigarette to a kid and the kid responds, “I have given my life to Jesus and Jesus doesn’t want me smoking even one cigarette.”

I’m really curious in what Gospel that’s in … considering tobacco wasn’t even known in the Middle East 2,000 years ago.

The kid later says, “Lord Jesus, I know you are pleased with my decision.”

Well, considering that Jesus didn’t have a problem with wine .. I’m not following.


I certainly agree that cigarettes are evil .. because they addict and kill people and destroy lives, but I’ve seen any sort of religious connotation to it.

Anyway, it was a weird cartoon with a weird message (from the 1960s by the look of it). In the end, get this, the guy who does evil as a kid doesn’t get any kind of redemption. He is run into by a drunken driver and his girlfriend killed … the message seems to be this is God punishing the guy for being evil his life. Wow, if that isn’t some effed-up perversion of what Christianity is supposed to be about, I don’t know what is.

England set to ban smoking in cars with kids


Wow, just looking at this photo pisses me off


This is an issue I haven’t heard as much lately. It was starting to become a big deal in a lot of states two or three years ago.

England (not the United Kingdom, just England), is set to ban smoking in vehicles with children. So far, seven states (California, Oregon, Vermont, Arkansas, Utah, Louisiana, Maine) and Puerto Rico have all banned smoking in cars with kids (though I’m a little annoyed that the age limit in Arkansas is 6 and in Vermont it’s 8 — so it’s OK to subject 7- and 9-year-old kids to cigarette smoke in cars?

Most Canadian provinces and Australian states have also banned smoking in cars with kids, as well as a few other countries, including South Africa. A few U.S. cities have banned it, too.


English MPs voted 367-107 recently to create the new law. It still needs to go through a few hoops to become law, which will likely happen in 2015. According to the Guardian article I linked to, that is a larger margin than the vote to impose a smoking ban on bars and restaurants in England.

According to the Guardian article:

The public appears to back the ban. In March, a YouGov poll for the anti-smoking group ASH found that 77% of adults, including 64% of those who smoke, supported the criminalisation of smoking in cars carrying anyone under 18.

A few years ago, I was a bit dubious about the idea of smoking bans in cars, it smelled a bit like too much government overreach, but the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with these laws. Look, if you’re too damned stupid to realize just how damaging it is to kids’ respiratory systems to subject them to cigarette smoke in a vehicle (even with the windows rolled down), maybe you need the embarrassment of being pulled over and paying a $75 fine for your sheer stupidity. To me, it’s no different from parents being pulled over for their kids not being in their seatbelts. Maybe for stupid people, a ticket and lecture from a cop is the only way for them to start giving it some thought. To me, smoking in cars with kids borders on genuine child abuse (I remember how much my eyes and throat and nose would burn on trips with my chain-smoking parents.).

It’s too bad that the momentum for these common-sense laws has stalled. The country’s lurched to the right, and no one likes new rules and regulations, especially a regulation essentially telling stupid parents how to act around their kids. I get that.

I bend over backward not to make smokers self-conscious with my views about tobacco; no matter how hard I try, a number of smokers get defensive with me. I get that, too. Smokers are social pariahs, they have to put up with dirty looks and people fake-coughing all the time.

However, that being said, the ONLY smokers I am down on are the stupid smokers who light up around kids, ESPECIALLY in cars. At least two or three times a year, I still see people smoking in cars with kids, usually with the windows rolled up. And it always leaves me livid when I see it.


Survey: More teens now using e-cigs than cigarettes


OK, I alluded to this in my previous posts, and here’s why I wasn’t aware of this — because this study just came out two or three days ago. I thought I was out of it or something.

According to a 2014 Monitoring the Future survey, more teens are now using e-cigs than cigarettes.

Thank you very much, wildly successful Blu E-Cigs marketing campaign.

Good news, bad news. Because cigarettes are bad … but e-cigs are still addictive and hence not a big improvement.

According to this U.S. News and World Report story

Survey results released Tuesday show more than 17.1 percent of high school seniors said they used an e-cigarette in the past month, while just 13.6 percent said they used a traditional cigarette in the previous 30 days.

The gap was wider among younger students. About 16.2 percent of high school sophomores used an e-cigarette in the past month, whereas 7.2 percent used a conventional cigarette. For eighth-grade students, self-reported e-cigarette use was also more than double the conventional use rate, at 8.7 and 4 percent, respectively.

Wow, this just sucks, in my opinion. I want to be happy about the decline in smoking, but nicotine is nicotine and in whatever form, it’s one of the most addictive substances on the planet. All these kids are just finding a different delivery system to get addicted to nicotine.

The FDA is set to impose new rules banning e-cig sales to minors, but is punting on regulating e-cig marketing, which has been incredibly blatant in trying to make e-cigs look sexy and exciting.


USA Today editorial: If the FDA won’t crack down on the marketing of e-cigs, perhaps states should

USA Today published an interesting editorial this week on how to stop the explosion of e-cig use by teenagers.


The editorial first brings up a shocking statistic (shocking to me, at least) — that the percentage of kids under 18 who have used e-cigs (17 percent) is now higher than the percentage of kids who have smoked cigarettes (14 percent). Wow, I’m sure that number has been out there, but I never noticed it before.

The rate of teen smoking has nosedived in the past two or three years, in some states dropping below 10 percent. There’s your biggest reason why, unfortunately.

E-cigs might have some value for helping some people quit cigarettes when everything else has failed. However, they are being used as a substitute for cigarettes by too many kids — not people trying to quit a 20-year habit.

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a series of rules for e-cigs (since e-cigs contain nicotine, the FDA has regulatory authority). One rule is fine — banning e-cig sales to minors under 18. However, the agency noticeably failed to propose any control over how e-cigs are marketed, even though the federal government does have the power to control the marketing of cigarettes (through both the Federal Trade Commission and the FDA.).

E-cig companies, the biggest of which (Blu) is now a wholly owned subsidiary of RJ Reynolds, have been brazenly aggressive in marketing e-cigs as cool, hip and sexy, deploying the exact same marketing techniques used by Big Tobacco for decades to make cigarettes appear alluring to teens.

From the USA Today editorial:

For manufacturers, the logic is inescapable: Addict a teenager and you could have a customer for life; miss the moment and you have no customer at all. So in ways subtle and not so subtle, e-cigarette makers have applied Big Tobacco’s advertising and marketing practices.

One prominent tactic is their use of celebrities — including former Playboy centerfold Jenny McCarthy, singer Courtney Love, actor Stephen Dorff and teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame — to make “vaping” look sexy and rebellious.

USA Today acknowledges that with a very conservative Congress being sworn in in January 2015, that could tie the FDA’s hands somewhat in developing new regulations for e-cigs. So, as an alternative, it proposes that state attorneys general use the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with Big Tobacco to clamp down on e-cig advertising.

From USA Today:

Alternatively, states could fill the breach. Nearly a dozen still allow e-cigarette sales to minors when they plainly should not. They could also use the 1998 tobacco settlement negotiated with the industry long before e-cigarettes existed. The accord defines covered products in a way that includes e-cigarettes, because nicotine is derived from tobacco.

By invoking the settlement, state attorneys general would be able to clamp down on marketing that’s targeted at youth, including certain celebrity promotions, concert sponsorships and access to free samples.

After a decades-long battle against youth smoking, it would be tragic to see a new generation of teens hooked on a different but potentially dangerous substitute.

I have no idea if such a tactic would work, but I personally think something needs to be done to crack down on these commercials and stem the tide of the explosion of e-cig use among kids. I think the FDA is wimping out here — screw Congress, the FDA is part of the Executive branch, they don’t answer to Ted Cruz, they answer to Obama.

Whatever it takes to tackle this problem head-on.


Rand Paul, other right-wingers: Cigarette taxes caused Eric Garner’s death …. Oh my freaking God …

rand paul


This makes my head hurt. It really does.

Republican Libertarian weasel Rand Paul was one of several Republicans jumping on this bullshit bandwagon that somehow cigarette taxes caused Eric Garner’s death. Wow, just motherloving wow….

Eric Garner is the black guy killed by a New York City policeman in a chokehold several months ago. The lack of indictment by a grand jury, despite some fairly glaring video evidence, is sparking protests around the country.

Rand Paul sometimes acts like he’s actually a sane, relatively moderate Republican, but every once in a while, keeps betraying his right-wing nuttiness (Remember when he literally ran away from a couple of immigrants who wanted to talk to him? I mean he burned rubber!)

eric garner
Eric Garner

Now, where do Paul and other Libertarian idiots get the idea that cigarette taxes killed Eric Garner — not a cop who was violating his own department’s policy that forbids chokeholds? Because Garner was accosted by police to begin with for selling black market untaxed cigarettes on the street.

Yup. It wasn’t an out-of-control cop violating his department’s policies … it was nanny state cigarette taxes.

Rand Paul said:

“I do blame the politician,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, explained on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” “We put our police in a dangerous situation with bad laws.”

“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes,” Paul said. “So they’ve driven cigarettes underground so as not to make them so expensive.”

Jon Stewart savaged Paul’s insane logic on the Daily Show (I couldn’t have said this better, actually.)

But Stewart compared Paul’s reasoning to saying that government parking regulations caused the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.

“Honestly, Eric Garner could have been out there with mixtapes or squeegees or a snocone, and the same kind of shit could have happened” Stewart argued. “For the second time in 10 days, a grand jury — which at least in federal cases has a 99 percent indictment rate — failed to indict an officer who caused the death of an unarmed citizen.”

Right-wing weasels Ann Coulter and Dana Loesch also chimed in on Twitter:

Ann Coulter @AnnCoulter

Eric Holder: How about a blue ribbon commission on why the govt has to get every last penny in taxes from the sale of cigarettes.

Dana Loesch         @DLoesch

If Bloomberg’s stringent cig excise tax law wasn’t a contributing factor in Garner’s death then why, pray tell, were police there?

Dana Loesch         @DLoesch

Understanding cause and effect, like passing a law that requires more stringent enforcement of a dumb law, is awesome re #Garner.

Dana Loesch likes to show off her guns. Wow, you own lotsa guns. Whatever.

Jesus, trying to turn a tragedy involving police brutality into a debate about cigarette taxes?

I try to keep the Lounge non-partisan, but sometimes the right-wing mindset just blows my mind. I feel like these people are beyond reason. They dumped reason by the side of the road hundreds of miles ago and long ago drove off into lala lands.

Stewart hit the nail on the head, doesn’t matter what Garner was doing, he could have been selling bootleg CDs, dope, whatever, police had no right to KILL him. He was unarmed and was begging them to stop choking him, gasping, “I can’t breathe…” and again for the umpteenth time chokeholds are AGAINST NEW YORK CITY POLICE POLICY.

OK, all that being said … and I hate to even go here after this right-wing lunacy, there actually IS a problem with cigarette taxes creating a black market cigarette trade. The problem isn’t that taxes are too high necessarily, it’s that every state has it’s own taxing rate. Some states like North Carolina, are extremely low, while other states, such as New York, are extremely high. So the uneven tax rates create a demand for people to bring truckloads of cigarettes from South Carolina to New York and sell them on the street for $2 or $3 a pack less than cigarettes from New York City stores.

Yes, a black market problem exists. The solution to that problem is a uniform cigarette tax across the country. In any case, none of this has anything to do with Eric Garner’s death. It’s just political jerks trying to change the narrative and make it about liberals, Michael Bloomberg, Barack Obama, whatever. I really thought I had seen everything from the right-wing … but this is right up there as the most despicable attempt I’ve seen to try to derail the real issue — that black lives are seen as cheap and disposable by too many cops in America.





“What is it with Boston signing all these Latino players” — Dan Le Batard is an idiot

Dan Le Batard
Dan Le Batard

I heard something on ESPN Radio last week that absolutely made my head explode.

Last week, the Boston Red Sox managed to snag both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as free agents. Dan Le Batard, who is Cuban and has a sometimes entertaining radio show out of Miami, made some mystifying comment to the effect of “Whoa, what is it with Boston signing all these Latinos?”

pablo sandoval
Pablo Sandoval

Some other guy on the show said, “what do you mean?” Le Batard responded with something to the effect of “Well … all the racism in Boston…”

My head exploded. I couldn’t believe what an idiotic statement that was. No one called him on his B.S., so I’m doing it on the Lounge. It’s fairly well known that Le Batard likes to stir the pot and has some grudge against Boston, but this was just too much.

I mean, never mind the fact that Hanley Ramirez started off in the Red Sox system … and was traded to Florida for another Latino … Mike Lowell. Grrrr … my head is exploding from this idiocy.

Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez

First of all, Le Batard, let me throw several names out to you. By far the most beloved member of the Boston Red Sox for the past 12 or 13 years? A guy who never has to buy a drink anywhere in Boston? David Ortiz. A Dominican. When the Boston Marathon got bombed, who was chosen to speak to Boston Red Sox fans…? David Ortiz. Did Ortiz get ripped by Bostonians when he proclaimed “this is our fucking city.” No. Bostonians adored that, and adored him and will continue adoring him the rest of his life.

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox
David Ortiz

Let me throw another name at you, Le Batard — Luis Tiant. Luis Tiant was a wildly popular Cuban pitcher for the Red Sox during the 70s. Other than Carl Yazstremski, he was probably the most beloved member of the Red Sox during that 70s. Did he have to face a lot of racism when he first joined the team? Perhaps. I don’t know, it was before my time. It wouldn’t shock me if he did. But, if he did, he later became one of the most popular Red Sox of all time.

Luis Tiant
Luis Tiant

Let me throw several other names at you, Le Batard — Tony Armas, Mike Torrez, Luis Aparicio, Pedro Martinez, Mike Lowell, Nomar Garciaparra and even Manny Ramirez. Latino players who played in Boston, were loved by Boston and thrived in Boston — even Ramirez. Boston fans overlooked his flakiness and lousy defence for years and loved him because he was a great hitter. “Manny being Manny” was a big joke in Boston for years. They only turned on him (and rightfully so) after he started faking injuries because $20 million a year wasn’t good enough for him. Now in Boston he is like Stalin in the 1960s Soviet Union. No one speaks of him because of his PED use. But, when he was hitting .330 with 35-40 home runs every year, they loved him in Beantown.

Pedro Martinez

I remember Lowell (a Cuban born in Puerto Rico), had one good year for Boston and Red Sox fans begged the team to pony up and keep him on the team after he became a free agent. The Red Sox listened to the fans and ended up overpaying him, but he happily retired as a Red Sox.

I can also throw a number of other names out there — Adrian Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre, Julio Lugo, Orlando Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Gonzalez and a current Red Sox Xander Bogaerts, Yoenis Cespedes, Rubby de la Rosa and Christian Vazquez. All Latinos. All played (or currently play) for the Red Sox with virtually no controversy over the fact that they’re Latino.

So, it was just such a completely asinine and out of the blue comment on Le Batard’s part. I wish someone had called him on the carpet about it.

Nomar Garciaparra
Nomar Garciaparra

Yes, some knucklehead Boston fans tweeted horrible things about P.K. Subban during the NHL playoffs, but the team and organization apologized. Guess what. Wayne Simmonds also had a banana thrown at him in London, Ontario, are you going to condemn the entire city of London for that?

Here’s what is so stupid about what Le Batard said. Did Jim Rice have to put up with a lot of racist crap from the Yawkey organization and from Boston fans? Absolutely he did — 40 years ago. Does Boston have a racist history? Absolutely. Does Boston continue to this day to have issues with racism? Absolutely. Is Boston worse than a lot of other American cities, especially in the South? Is it worse than St. Louis? Doubtful. I saw all those “we support officer Wilson” t-shirts being worn by Cardinals fans during the postseason.

Yes, the Boston Red Sox used to be a really racist organization — the operative part of that sentence is “used to be.” The Phillies used to be really racist, too. But,  Tom Yawkey died in 1976, all remaining lingering vestiges of the Yawkey family ownership were removed over a decade ago and John Henry long ago addressed the racism within the organization. Yes, there were race riots in Boston over forced busing — 40 … years … ago.

Manny Ramirez

Every community has its share of racism. Let me additionally throw this at Le Batard. Would he have made a similar astonished comment if the Atlanta Braves were signing black guys onto their team? We all know Georgia has a lot of racism. We all know Georgia Republicans are doing their damnedest to stop blacks from voting. We all know the Atlanta Braves are bailing on a 20-year-old stadium in a black section of Atlanta for a stadium in the white suburbs. Why? Because white Atlanta suburbanites don’t want to go into black inner-city Atlanta to attend a baseball game. I know this because Atlanta fans have flat out admitted this to me. So, where is Le Batard’s astonishment at black guys playing for the Braves?

Or how about Phoenix, Arizona, home to the Diamondbacks? This is a city that has elected and repeatedly re-elected an openly racist sheriff into office. This is arguably the most racist state in the nation and Maricopa County might be the most racist county in the nation. Has Le Batard thrown a hissy fit over the Diamondbacks signing Latino players? I seem to remember that Luis Gonzalez is a huge hero in Phoenix. Is Boston really more racist than Phoenix?

Here’s another one. Le Batard is based in Florida, one of the most racist states in the country, a state in which a nominally white guy can blow away an unarmed black teenager and get off scot-free. A state in which another white guy thought he could get away with blowing away a black kid in his SUV because he was playing his music too loud. A state that is doing its damnedest to stop blacks from voting and forces people on Welfare (ie, in the Republican mind … blacks) to undergo drug testing. Remember when a Muslim bought the Jacksonville Jaguars? Jags fans wrote plenty of ugly, racist things on Twitter about that; it was every bit as bad as the P.K. Subban nastiness if not worse. Yes, Boston had its race riots in the 1970s, but Florida had the Liberty City race riots, the Rosewood massacre and lots and lots of lynchings back in the day.

So, Dan, everywhere has its share of racism … even your own backyard. Guess what, if you can play,  very few people in Boston care if you’re a Latino member of the Red Sox.