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Crossing the Line

It looks like Penguins prospect Keven Veilleux has some explaining to do:

Winger Keven Veilleux has been suspended indefinitely by the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers for allegedly using a racial slur during a game against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon.

Veilleux is accused of using the slur during an altercation with South Carolina defenseman Scooter Vaughan, who is black. Veilleux and Vaughan fought two times during the game.

Nobody knows what Veilleux said, but apparently it was pretty bad.  So bad, in fact, that the ECHL is conducting an official investigation, and Veilleux has been asked to offer a public apology:

(Nailers alternate governor Tim) Roberts said he spoke with Vaughan, who played 20 games with Wheeling last year and was with the team during training camp. Vaughan said ''It's not the first time and it won't be the last, but it was the worst,'' according to Roberts.

It's a horrible story, and Veilleux's going to have to pay the piper.  Not surprisingly, when Tim Roberts spoke with Veilleux after the incident, the burly winger was extremely remorseful.  Nevertheless, the Penguins organization had no choice but to issue an immediate suspension.  Veilleux has to be held accountable for what was clearly an unacceptable remark.

With that said, it would be wrong for anyone who doesn't know Veilleux to use this episode to jump to conclusions about his integrity and character as a person.  By all accounts, he's a very affable young man who's well-liked by his teammates.  Unfortunately, he got caught up in the heat of the moment and said something completely inappropriate.  It's not particularly surprising, especially for a 23-year-old.

Sure, Veilleux could've used a variety of other colorful insults to throw at Scooter Vaughan on Sunday, but in his rage, he crossed the line.  It doesn't make his remark any more acceptable, but hopefully, hockey fans will step back and realize that Veilleux's indiscretion was nothing more than a prime example of an athlete taking leave of his senses in the midst of an emotional game. 

Too many kids grow up hearing racial slurs at home, at school, in contemporary music, and on television.  Because such slurs are so widely used in everyday speech and pop culture, some people don't even think twice about using them.  These folks simply have no comprehension of how hurtful and distasteful racial epithets are, whether it's because of a lack of interaction with minorities or sheer oblivion. 

There's a difference between bigotry and ignorance.  And while there are plenty of racists in the world, it's not fair to paint someone who prominently displays his own ignorance with that kind of a brush.  Keven Veilleux made a mistake, and now he must make amends.  Unfortunately, his mistake is a common one.  Luckily for Veilleux, North Americans are a forgiving bunch.  Here's hoping he gets treated fairly, despite his idiocy.

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Comments

mrfluffy's avatar

Sorry, and I understand this may be unpopular but since I’m posting it I obviously am not caring too much on ‘popularity’...

Why is this such a big deal? What happened to “leave it all out on ice”? We can still ‘trash talk’ our opponent in PC world, can we not?

And if we can, we have to police what we say?

BS, I say. I think he should file a lawsuit against his team, the ECHL, and tell the people demanding a public apology to shove it.

That said, I’m not a hockey player in the public spotlight so…yes…it’s easy for me to say this sitting in an office behind a screen.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 01/16/13 at 06:43 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

These folks simply have no comprehension of how hurtful and distasteful racial epithets are, whether
it’s because of a lack of interaction with minorities or sheer oblivion.

I disagree.  I think that there’s such a premium on the racial slurs in the PC lense of view that people know it’s a carpet bomb when you’re trying to do the most psychological damage to your opposition (whether it be in a bar, in sports, over parking spots).  That’s exactly why people only go there when they’re infuriated, like Kramer.

I do think it’s a little weird you can trash someone’s family but don’t talk about the color of his skin.  You can trash someone’s heritage, but don’t talk about the color of their skin.  I’m not one to get too caught up in that, but the logic baffles me.  I get much more pissed about people talking about my family than I do the fact I’m white-ish.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 01/16/13 at 06:57 PM ET

Avatar

He can punch him in the face but not call him a name?  It’s just silly.  The n word the P word the G word lol Like little kids. 

They were having a fist fight.  I’m sure even brothers say awful things to each other in the heat of the moment.

Posted by 13 user names on 01/16/13 at 07:41 PM ET

TEMO's avatar

Words like the N word (or any word/term referring to any specific racial/cultural group) still cut .  The history behind it is a story filled with hatred, oppression, discrimination and death.  This isn’t about being PC or “overly sensitive”.  Words have weight whether we want them to or not.  What happened wasn’t a case of kids name-calling in a school yard.  Veilleux is supposed to be a professional because he does set an example for other players and fans, young and old.  He should have known better than to bring that onto the ice.

Posted by TEMO from LANSING, MICHIGAN, U.S.A. on 01/16/13 at 08:43 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

TEMO, not denying that but from a personal level, I can’t change everybody.  At the end of the day words are words.  If someone wants to be divisive and obscene about race, fine.  Religion, whatever.  Money, who cares.  I personally believe the current PC lense gives insults more venom, we have this obligation to be offended and I think people over-react.  Sounds like Vaughan understands this as well, sounds like his disappointment was with the fact it happened within his community and profession, especially in a team sport.  Imagine if they ever ended up on the same team?  But you can’t be getting bent out of shape because of words people call you.  It’s an indicator of themselves not the person they’re throwing the insults at.  If anything I feel sorry for them.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 01/16/13 at 09:02 PM ET

TEMO's avatar

H.O., I come from this as a minority who has had ethnic slurs hurled at me many times and I’ll tell you, it’s extremely hard to get someone calling you a hateful name out of your head once it’s been uttered.  You don’t need to look through a PC lens for a slur to have venom; It is what it is.  I feel you in that we can’t help but feel pity towards a person who chooses the easiest way to insult another but my point is, what Veilleux did can’t be lessened .  Words are words but like I said they have meaning and weight especially when it comes to negative racial/ethnic epithets.  He feels bad about what was said and that’s good!  I really hope we can keep that stuff out of the greatest game in the world.  There’s plenty of hatred for the other team’s logo   wink

Posted by TEMO from LANSING, MICHIGAN, U.S.A. on 01/16/13 at 10:43 PM ET

Avatar

They were punching each other in the face.  If he had yelled slurs from the stands or said it during a verbal altercation I would agree with you. 

But that should remain on the ice between them.  Vaughn may take him on again and I wouldn’t blame him. 

But you can’t condone fist fighting between grown men and then have a problem when one combatant says something to another.

I’m limiting this strictly to the fight scenario.  People who hurl epithets at others are usually people of limited intellect and have a poor command of language. 

Racist idiocy like that on display in Europe earlier this year has no place in any venue.

Posted by 13 user names on 01/17/13 at 07:20 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Racial Taunts or Slurs are a specific category for game misconducts with the option for supplemental discipline. ALL the North American leagues have decided that this is beyond the pale for sportsmanship.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 01/18/13 at 12:45 AM ET

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.