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January 8, 2000
Sack John Rocker, Turner Told
J M Shenoy
Indian Americans joined fellow Americans in criticizing the decision of baseball officials for ordering loudmouth pitcher John Rocker to undergo psychological testing.
"This man has poison in his heart, and he hates minorities, including Indian immigrants," said Indian community leader Subhash Razdan. Sending him to a psychiatrist will be like treating cancer with aspirin, a Rocker critic said.
Rocker had made derogatory comments about Indians and other Asians, gays and lesbians in an interview with Sports Illustrated. His remarks were confined to his visit to New York a few months ago. The 25-year-old Rocker painted New Yorkers as degenerates and criminals, and sneered at immigrants, saying, "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners."
"How the hell did they get in this country?" he asked.
Subhash Razdan, who is also a Census 2000 official in Atlanta, joined thousands of others who had demanded that Ted Turner, the media mogul who owns the Atlanta Braves, either suspend Rocker or sack him for his bigotry.
"Atlanta is a cosmopolitan city, and it is sad that someone who lives in this city should make racist remarks," Razdan said.
More than 20 advocacy groups staged a protest on Friday morning outside Turner Field in Atlanta. They asserted nothing short of Rocker's release by the Braves would satisfy them. The rally at Turner Field drew about 60 people, mostly leaders of Atlanta civic groups representing Asian-Americans, blacks, Hispanics, gays, Christians and AIDS activists.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has said he will listen to what the doctors say before deciding what punishment Rocker will face -- if any.
"Mr Rocker's recent remarks ... were reprehensible and completely inexcusable," Selig said. "I am profoundly concerned about the nature of those comments, as well as by certain other aspects of his behavior."
Rocker has apologized for the remarks, but denied he is a racist. His critics say he got away with just a slap on his wrist.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on Friday that any punishment should include mandatory psychological counseling.
"He obviously needs some kind of treatment," the mayor said. "There's something wrong with the guy. You can see it when he is playing that there is something wrong with him."
Braves President Stan Kasten said: "We at least need to give the man an opportunity to demonstrate his heartfelt remorse and correct the problem."
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