Richard Sherman’s rant is still a story during the Super Bowl lull. He addressed media members today, expressing his (correct) belief that the word “thug” was coded language for another term.
“The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays,”
Sherman clearly isn’t a “thug.” He’s not a ruffian off the football field. To our knowledge, he does not spend the off-season worshiping Kali and attacking travelers in India. And, yes, as everyone pointed out, he has a degree from Stanford University.
What’s not clear is to what extent Richard Sherman specifically being called a “thug” veritably entered the marketplace of ideas.
Sports media sentiment, especially skewing younger and Twitterier, was almost unanimously pro-Sherman. Those who didn’t like the rant, were quick to qualify their criticism, differentiating themselves from any form of coded language or ad hominem attack. It’s not clear this went significantly beyond the internet commenting troll, “random person on my Facebook” or “person who showed up on my hyper-specific twitter search” level.
Race affects how people view things. “Thug” certainly is coded language. Judging by the Sherman reaction and the abundance of columns railing against terming Sherman a “thug,” that’s a message more or less clear.