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One to watch: Duncan Keith

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Duncan Keith

It seems to be a symptom of the human condition that we've got to label things. Take Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith. He became the core of a Twitter tempest when he was asked by reporter Karen Thomson about a slash he gave to Vancouver Canuck Daniel Sedin that was not penalized. Keith suggested Thomson might want to consider being "the first female ref."

When Thomson said she couldn't skate, Keith concluded the interview by saying: "The first female referee. You can't play probably either, right. But you're thinking the game like you know it? OK, see ya."

People who have appointed themselves watchdogs for this sort of thing immediately labeled Keith sexist. Others, rejecting the sexist label looked for another one.

"Is Duncan Keith a sexist jerk, or a typical jock?" blared the headline on a column by National Post's Joe O'Connor.

So, is being a typical jock somehow better than being a sexist jerk?

When we label people, we don't have to listen to them anymore. Oh, he's just a misogynist, an anti-Semite. A liberal. A conservative. She's a dumb blond. A housewife. A feminist. We interact with the label, not the person.

Why can't we acknowledge the other human condition of simply saying or doing something stupid once in a while?

In an interview before the Blackhawks' game against Edmonton, Keith said he meant no disrespect to women. "There was no intent from my point. I respect everybody. I respect everybody's job."

"You don't differentiate (between) male and female reporters?" Keith was asked.

"No. I've got (CSN-Chicago reporter) Tracey Myers here. I deal with her all the time. She's a great reporter."

Thomson, for her part, tweeted: "Hockey is an emotional game and things are often said in the heat of the moment. I think this is what happened last night. I've moved on."

So call off the posse. Keith is not a sexist jerk or a typical jock. He is merely a human being.

-- David Connors

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2013 J12

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