On Thursday morning's First Take, Stephen A. Smith expressed his disbelief that Kobe Bryant would miss time with an injury by saying "nigga, please." This was not a thing he should have said on TV, yet he did. It was barely noticeable, but at least one person noticed, uploaded the video, and certain folks began pretending to be up in arms.

There were calls for Smith to apologize and calls for ESPN to suspend him, citing as precedent a SportsCenter anchor's suspension for saying "chink in the armor" when referring to Jeremy Lin—even while acknowledging that Max Bretos shouldn't have been punished for that. It became a discussion of race, instead of a TV personality accidentaly using a non-FCC-approved word live on air. If this controversy is about anything, and I'm not so sure it is, it's surely not about how "most white people are afraid to talk or write about anything involving race for fear of being called a racist."

Then things got dumber. Later in the day, Smith gave a bizarre half-/non-apology, insisting that the problem is that he speaks "very, very fastly."

This is the If I Did It of apologies. Smith maintains that he didn't say "nigga, please," but if he had he should not have. A forced apology clarifying that ESPN would have forced him to apologize for what he didn't say.

Subsequent re-runs of First Take were edited, covering up Smith's "nigga" with a half-second of jarring mute, doing nothing but bringing more attention to the thing ESPN says he didn't say. "We didn't leave it on the re-air as we didn't want to create more confusion if people misunderstood him," an ESPN spokesman said.

This led to another round of recrimination, usually bowdlerizing the offending statement as "the n-word," as if this were the New York Times and we're not allowed to use the actual quote that this entire mess pivots upon.

So let's count off the stupid here.

1. It's dumb that white people demand an apology when a black guy says "nigga."
2. It's dumb that ESPN made Smith address it.
3. It's dumb that Smith chose the middle ground of a sort-of-not-really apology.
4. It's dumb that ESPN edited the clip after denying there was anything offensive in it.
5. It's dumb that people object to the editing of the clip.

We are, as usual, all dumber for having watched First Take.