In what is surely one of the most head-scratchiest instances of racism directed toward an athlete, the Massachusetts cop who heckled Carl Crawford during a minor-league rehab assignment in New Hampshire has been fired by his town's mayor, after being suspended for the past week. The Boston Globe has the full details:
Mayor Dean Mazzarella fired Officer John Perreault, effective immediately, saying Perreault's actions were in violation of department rules and brought discredit upon the police department.
"As Mayor, it is my expectation that City employees of any department will never use racially-motivated statements against anyone, whether on-duty or off-duty. Your actions are so egregious that severe discipline is warranted. There is simply no place for your behavior in the workplace and there is no place for someone who exhibits such objectionable behavior in the Leominster Police Department, or any City Department, for that matter," the mayor said in a letter sent to Perreault.
The action by the mayor came after a disciplinary hearing Wednesday in which Police Chief Robert J. Healey alleged that, in addition to yelling the epithet "Monday" at Crawford, Perreault had, in other settings, used racial epithets or made racist remarks.
"After reviewing the testimony from the Chief and reviewing the documents submitted ... I have determined that the charges advanced by Chief Healey have been substantiated," Mazzarella wrote.
Joseph Sandulli, Perreault's attorney, said early this afternoon his client plans to appeal his termination.
"He is not a racist," Sandulli said. "He meant that comment as a criticism of Carl Crawford's play and not his race, and that's why he chose to go through the process yesterday and wants to pursue the appeal."
Count me as one of those who had no earthly idea this was such a derogatory term and not merely a much-loathed day of the week. Thankfully, the Globe is running a special explainer in this Sunday's edition, and it's already online. Here's a snippet:
Monday? The day of the week? Is this really an insult, and one that has anything to do with race?
It turns out that the answer is yes-and that it is hardly the only secret ethnic or racial slur in English. Mild-mannered language has long provided cover for vitriolic speech, with everyday words pressed into service to lend a kind of plausible deniability. Such code words require shared recognition among the in-group, while, in principle, leaving the targets of the slurs unaware of the game. In fact, it's only because the officer was breaking those implicit rules, and allegedly using a "secret" offensive term to address a sports celebrity, that he ended up in trouble-and that the coded use of "Monday" is suddenly out in the open.
After the "Monday" incident came to light in a postgame press conference with Crawford on July 5, local reporters scrambled to figure out the word's hidden significance. "I can understand how it could become a put-down," said Michael Holley, co-host of "The Big Show" on the Boston sports radio station WEEI. (Holley, who is black, has lived in Boston for 15 years.) "How did it become a racial slur?"
That remains mysterious. Certainly, the police officer didn't invent this usage himself: On the Urban Dictionary website, which aggregates user-generated definitions of slang, one entry defines "Monday" as "Another way of saying [the N-word] without getting caught." Another person even claims it "originated in Boston," though other online commenters peg it to the East Coast more generally. Finally, a third definition offers an explanation of "Monday" as an insult, though no hint of why it would be connected to race: "Everybody hates Mondays," the contributor writes.
This usage of "Monday" began to be recorded on Urban Dictionary in 2006, and it first made an appearance in the online Racial Slur Database two years before that. But it was the popular comedian Russell Peters, a Canadian of Indian descent, who put "Monday" on the map. In a January 2008 standup routine for Def Comedy Jam (widely circulated on YouTube), Peters tells of a Bostonian referring to blacks as "Mondays" and giving the same bigoted clarification that "nobody likes Mondays." "White people are getting real...clever with their racism," Peters jokes ruefully.
Whether this story ever manages to suck the comedy out of this moment in cinematic history remains to be seen. (I sincerely doubt it.)