By Andrew Skeritt
A misogynistic, vile, expletive punctuated public outburst on Florida State University campus would have been unacceptable for any college student. For the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and FSU starting quarterback Jameis Winston, the outburst was way out of bounds.
Just as FSU has ramped up its kNOw MORE anti-sexual violence campaign, Winston stands on a table in the student union and yells his version of a vulgar, sexual meme that had been making the rounds on social media.
Winston’s stunt was chilling as onlookers stood in disbelief watching the National Championship winner shame them and their university. Students’ tweets dripped with incredulity. How could he? How can we continue to call this Jameis being Jameis? One apologist reasoned that Winston just loves to perform.
To make matters worse, Winston was initially suspended for just the first half of Saturday’s home game against the Clemson Tigers (which FSU won in OT, 23-17). Then, in the face of widespread criticism, FSU suspended Winston for the second half too. Reportedly, interim FSU President Garnett Stokes and Athletic Director Stan Wilcox handed down the stronger suspension because Winston wasn’t forthright in his recollection of what took place in the student union. This is a troubling pattern.
All this must be viewed in the context of Winston’s past behavior and the larger issue of how professional athletes view and treat women. Winston’s actions were not violent, but his words were imbibed with the spirit FSU has belatedly tried to confront with its new anti-sexual violence campaign.
Some say Winston was behaving like a typical college student. Doesn’t his high profile demand a greater level of social responsibility? Over the past few years, Winston has made the news as much for his off-the-field fumbles as much for his heroics between the lines. After a fellow student accused him of sexual assault in 2012, no criminal charges were filed. FSU has reportedly launched a Title IX investigation of that complaint.
Last spring, Winston was caught on videotape shoplifting crab legs from an area Publix supermarket. Winston claimed he just forgot to pay for the items, but the videotape tells a different tale. He was allowed to enter a special program for first time offending shoplifters and complete community service. At the time, Winston, then a member of the FSU baseball team, received a three-game suspension. Still basking in the glory of FSU’s first national title in decades, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t even bother to punish Winston.
In the end, Winston sat. But only after he showed up in full game uniform and was doing warm-ups even though he was suspended. The Seminoles still won. It was a narrow victory, a scare, but FSU won a bigger moral victory off the field. The Seminoles don’t need Winston to save them. Can they save Winston from himself?
Andrew J. Skerritt was an assistant professor of journalism at Florida A&M University and a former columnist for the St. Petersburg Times. He is the author of “Ashamed to Die: Silence, Denial and the AIDS Epidemic in the South” (Lawrence Hill Books).
This guy has been and will continue to be a problem for FSU. He’s a glorified football player who thinks he has the right to do and say what ever he wants.
To those who see this as a serious offense: Tell me what law was broken? If he did violate someone’s morals, what morals, or whose morals should be enforced? For those staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment appalled at this type of behavior: What about the 1st Amendment? Have we grown into a society so grotesquely devoted to political correctness that we forget about free speech? As for me, it was not a good decision but only because of the audience not because of his words, and certainly, the punishment did not fit the crime. Ask yourself: what if it was a woman who stood up and yelled something similar? It would’ve been laughed off as one of the best jokes ever. Free Speech, Freedom of Thought, Freedom to Believe, Freedom of Expression, and Freedom to look like a jerk are still our inalienable rights. It should end there.
Seminole Pride says
My first reaction when I heard about the vulgar language in the school’s Student Union Building, was a typical young man trying to get a laugh, and get attention. I have spoken to a few parents who have sons and daughters that attend FSU, and they said most of the college kids thought it was hilarious, dumb, but hilarious. I was at the game Saturday night, and I was bothered when I first saw Jameis suited up. But when I saw Coach Jimbo tell him to leave the field, I thought this was the perfect punishment. To tell your star player that he can not suit up and be part of the team tonight, was very humiliating and embarrassing to this young man.Nothing hurts more for a football player then to be told you are not playing. I give Jameis a lot of credit for leaving the field, as he was told and then coming back in his street clothes to cheer his team on.. Coach Jimbo, you handled it perfectly.
This guy is a problem waiting to happen.
Sherry Epley says
So. . . by some people’s personal opinion. . . there should be NO social stigma/judgement/penalty against those who would, for example, distribute child pornography, shout racial slurs, call people filthy names, etc. . . . and all in the name of freedom of speech! How about falsely shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater or a false bomb threat? What about noise ordinances?
Should we just continue to throw civility and decorum out the window in the name of “certain” people’s freedom of speech? What about the “freedoms” of those attending a football game to NOT be subjected to such PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF FILTH?
Spot on, Sherry! How fortunate society it not to be dominated by the likes of this uncivilized beast and his defenders. I take that back, even so called uncivilized communities wouldn’t want these jerks and his supporters in their midst. If I were a betting person, I would bet that his next offense will be a Ray Rice assault against some poor, stupid female who thinks this piece of filth is worth the time of day. I just read the article on domestic violence and was NOT SURPRISED to learn that black females are mostly likely to be killed by their black male partners. Killing is an escalation of out of control violence. And this very kind of behavior is the reason why!