Georges Laraque played 13 seasons in the NHL, primary as an enforcer, which meant he got into a lot of fights and racked up a lot of penalty minutes (almost two per game). Laraque is also black and he said that using slurs, whether they be racial or homophobic, are never acceptable, even in the heat of the moment.
Laraque was reacting to the one-game suspension of Chicago Blackhawks player Andrew Shaw last week, for yelling "fucking faggot" in the penalty box after receiving a critical penalty late in Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues.
"The NHL has to take a stand about it," Laraque told the Toronto Star. "The league took a stand about racial slurs, which is good. I was glad when they took action on Chris Simon (for a racial slur) against Mike Grier. But if you do take a stand there but do nothing (about an anti-gay slur) . . . it’s showing disrespect. It’s disrespecting all people who care about equality. Equality is not just about race. It’s about sexual orientation too. It’s about all people. . . . What Andrew did is the same as using the N-word. To me it is."
"If someone calls me the N-word in the heat of the moment, is that OK?" he said. "It’s not, and this is not, either."
I love that Laraque said since his background gives him real authority here. Shaw could have used dozens of curse words that are not offensive to any marginalized group, but he chose to use one that has been heard in sports forever. He did apologize and I bet he doesn't use it again; that's what public vilification and a suspension will do.
The NHL suspending him did have an effect, Blackhawks star Patrick Kane told Chris Hine, the openly gay sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune. "This kind of opens up everyone’s eyes, a situation like this. ... It’s definitely a learning point to not only Shawzie but everyone in this room, myself included and I’m sure a lot more players in the league."