By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly
Content warning: screenshots of Tweets featured in this article contain racist and anti-immigrant hate speech.
As long as I can remember, Oregonians have always been a bunch of tree-huggin’ environmentalists, who are quick to protest social injustice. We’ve always led the way in fighting for LGBT equality and rights in our state and nation. And as one of the few born-and-raised Oregonians my memory goes back a ways.
Portland is one of the top LGBT friendly cities in the country, and Oregon boasts the first openly bisexual Governor in the nation, Kate Brown, the first transgender mayor, Stu Rasmussen of Silver Falls, and the first openly gay mayor of a top-30 US city, Sam Adams. We celebrate the outdoors, our biking culture, and recycle like it’s going out of style. Oh right, and we also believe climate change is real which is crazy that in 2017 that’s actually something you have to specify. If Trump has taught us anything, we now know many parts of the U.S aren’t as devoted to social injustice or environmental issues. But we on the “left” coast are proud of who we are and what we stand for.
Which brings me to a radio announcer, Dino Costa, who was recently hired by 102.9/750 The Game, an official broadcast partner of the Timbers FC. For those unfamiliar with this man, let me fill you in a bit.
Costa has an egotistical, bullying, Rush-Limbaugh-like show. As a sports commentator on the radio and social media, his remarks are overwhelmingly homophobic, transphobic, sexist, anti-black, anti-immigrant, and even anti-bike.
Now, given the fact that this is Portland, the progressive core of Oregon, why would 102.9/750 the Game (being an official broadcast partner of the TimbersFC) want to bring in such a person? They either failed at vetting him or thought bringing in someone so crude and outlandish would increase ratings.
Maybe I’m wrong—there’s always a chance they’re just indifferent to how violent and cruel his commentary can be. But personally I think it’s safe to assume the Timbers and Thorns aren’t on board with Costa’s commentary. My guess is there’s some sort of contractual agreement with all the stations that broadcast the Timbers and they’re caught between a rock and a hard place.
The Timbers have always stood up for LGBT rights and have promoted messages of tolerance and inclusion, while taking a public stance against sexism, homophobia and racism. This is what we love about the Timbers and Thorns—aside from fantastic futbol. I’ve written many blogs on their matches and the camaraderie and diversity they represent.
The Timbers, along with the Timbers Army, always stand up against bigotry and defend anyone who needs defending. Hell, I was even on a Timbers billboard! Think about it. I am a big butch lesbian who is often mistaken for a man and they promoted it for all to see. That is a huge statement.
They were also the first professional sports team to come out in support of gay marriage in the U.S., and for years they’ve had a “No racism, no sexism, no homophobia. Don’t Cross the Line” video series. I can’t imagine this organization supporting someone like Costa.
So where does that leave us? Since the Timbers didn’t directly hire and therefore can’t fire Costa, does that mean we’re stuck with a loudmouth bigot announcing our games? Especially here in Portland where we value tolerance, diversity and a healthy environment?
I am a big believer in a person’s right to free speech and that everyone is entitled to their personal and private opinions. But it crosses the line when it’s institutionalized and given a platform to harm so many of us.
Costa doesn’t reflect our values and we shouldn’t have to hear his snarky, demeaning, minority-bashing commentary. Should we boycott the radio station or station sponsors? Should we inundate 102.9/750 The Game with phone calls, letters and anti-Costa emails?
I don’t know what the solution is. I bet there are many. But whatever happens, the decision will be left to us. Will we abide someone like Costa and in so doing be complicit in the spreading of hateful ideas? Or will we rise up and take action to proclaim loudly that we in the Rose City won’t tolerate intolerance. #RCTID