How Mike Missanelli Misses the Point of His Deadspin Controversy

There’s never a good time for gay slurs.

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Mike Missanelli seems to have learned the wrong lesson.

Missanelli, of course, is the local sports talk radio host who was suspended last week after Deadspin released emails showing him lobbing homophobic taunts at a listener who’d clearly gotten his goat. He was back on the air Monday, and his jokes about the shortness of the suspension sure seemed to indicate he didn’t use the time to think about what he got wrong.


"My God, that was a really long weekend. It feels like I haven't been on the air since last Monday," Missanelli began.

Molly Eichel relays what happened next:

Missanelli got to tell his side of the story, saying that the still-anonymous emailer, who moved from Atlantic City to Las Vegas during their multiyear exchange, had sent thousands of threatening emails to him over his five years as a drive-time host, including the use of racial epithets, threats against Missanelli's daughter and calling an ex-girlfriend a whore.

Which sounds horrible. Everybody who has spent time in the public eye probably has a story of that one very unpleasant correspondent, somebody who knows how to make your life miserable and pushes all your buttons. There are ways of short-circuiting it: The spam filter is one; a police report (which Missanelli said he has filed) is another.

And then Missanelli identified his mistake.

“My mistake was engaging this crazy emailer in any kind of dialogue at all,” he said. “I let my emotions interfere with my common sense.” And he said he would no longer engage fans on Twitter or via his personal email.

Which seems to miss the point.

Don’t misunderstand: If Missanelli decides he needs to essentially stop communicating with his fans in order to reduce the likelihood he sends them ugly, homophobic insults and then keeps doing it over-and-over again, well, maybe it’s all for the best.

But it seems like Missanelli has skipped over a better, more important option, the lesson that everybody should take away from this: Don’t use ugly, homophobic insults.

Like, ever.

If you're a public figure — as Missanelli is — those insults will come back and bite you in the ass. More importantly: It's just a rotten thing to do, period.

On Monday, Missanelli echoed the words of his earlier, written apology. “Anyone who knows me or has ever listened to my show knows that I would NEVER cast aspersions on anyone's culture or lifestyle,” he said. Only that’s not quite true, is it? Because he did it — did it more than once, along a whole trail of emails — and that’s a bit more than never. And because it took place in sustained fashion, Missanelli can’t even really claim to have been reacting in knee-jerk fashion. He made a choice, and made it repeatedly.

Missanelli’s latest decision — to cease communicating with fans entirely instead of just the nasty one or two — suggests he’s fearful he can’t quite handle the standard of simply not using homosexuality as an insult. That’s too bad.

This is not about being “politically correct,” but about demonstrating the simple, human, adult value of showing respect to other people, even if you disagree with them. Even if they don’t show you respect. Michael Sam’s coming out and entry into the NFL means the sporting world is probably going to get a few examples of respect in action during the coming months and years. Too bad Missanelli has offered us such a timely reminder of why they’ll be needed.

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  • Joe Philly

    Exactly. What a terribly insincere apology.

    Missanelli either just doesn’t get it or he’s convinced his listeners are all stupid enough to believe that he wasn’t using the term “latent homosexual” as an insult. He clearly was. And, as you point out, he used the phrase over and over again to make his psuedo-macho point that his stalker was not as “manly” as Missanelli. This was schoolyard bully stuff.

    And for Mike to cite his radio talk show moralizing as proof that he would NEVER cast aspertions on anyone else’s lifestyle is as silly as it would be if Riley Cooper cited his ability to play alongside of African Americans on NFL gamedays as proof that he would never scream racial insults at anyone. You can’t have it both ways.

    At least Cooper can say he was drunk when he commited his “violation”.

    Missanelli is a fraud and a hypocrite.

  • Komels

    The stalker had commented that he was gay in previous emails. Your comment doesn’t take the entire situation into account. Yea, the words were not well thought out. He should not engage with that fool. However, Missanelli has a long history of being favorable to the gay cause on the radio. This incident was precipitated by a very sick person who has threatened his family.

  • Maurice

    what slur did he use? calling a homosexual a homosexual is a gay slur now?

    • jay davis

      Exactly!

  • joe philly

    Here is one of the alleged emails sent by Missanelli. You decide for yourself what Mike meant:

    “Hahaha. Yeah, you’re a total computer geek loser with absolutely NO female involvement. Anybody who wastes four hours of the day listening to my radio show and sending e-mail from fake names has a a big “L” tattooed on his forehead. Women probably avoid you like stink. (BTW, what are you gonna do today with me off? Jerkoff to one of my podcasts, you obsessive homosexual IT freak.)”

    Missanelli is a fraud and a hypocrite.

    • Maurice

      hypocrite? the dude sent thousands of stalker emails to a man he has never met, that email is more factual than hypocritical. if a stalker send thousands of abusive emails, delve into your personal life and research it, threaten your love ones, guess what? you are probably going to think that person has something for you

      • Logical Larry

        Its hypocritical for Mike to say he would never use a gay slur nor cast aspersions on anyone’s lifestyle. Because as the author of this article points out, and Mike’s own emails prove, Missanelli did “cast aspersions” on this guys lifestyle. Unless you think calling someone an “obsessive homosexual IT freak” is an endorsement of his lifestyle….

        Missanelli is a fraud for claiming he was trying to be “clinical” and help this stalker with his latent homosexuality. That’s a crock of sh*t – anyone who has read the email exchange can clearly see Mike wasn’t trying to help this loon, he was further provoking him and was using the term “latent homosexual” as a perjorative.

        You can learn a lot more about a man’s character by how he acts in private than by how he acts in public.

        Missanelli is a bully and an arrogant douche but and he’s not an idiot. But anyone who believe’s Missnelli’s “holier than though” bullshit is an idiot.

        He’s lost all credibility with me.

        • Maurice

          once again, since when is calling a homosexual a homosexual a gay slur?

          • Mo

            Cmon, Maurice. Be real.

            “I work with a guy who is homosexual.” = Probably not a gay slur.

            “Women avoid you like the stink because you are an obsessive homosexual freak loser with absolutely NO female involvement who probably jerks off thinking about me.” = Probably a gay slur.

            Its all in the context, Maurice. You know that. But if you can’t see it, then you can’t see it. Nobody gonna be able to convince you. Peace.