Thingish Things

Olympic Insults

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jul• 27•12

How many Irishmen does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

I’d tell you, but I still harbor Olympic ambitions. (I don’t care what anyone says; competitive grilled-cheese eating is a sport.)

Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou should have shown similar restraint. She should have known that you can’t say anything out of the political mainstream in sports today without paying a steep price. The athletic beauty tweeted a bad joke — if you can call it that — and it was curtains for her 2012 Olympic career before it began.

Papachristou, 23, was expelled from the Greek team days before she was scheduled to march into London’s Olympic Stadium. Her fatal quip, made in response to an outbreak of the West Nile virus in Athens: “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”
Apparently some people found that funny, which made it decidedly unfunny to the ears of Greece’s humorless Olympic Committee. And that, as they say, was that. No quantity or quality of apologies from Papachristou were enough to save her. Amazing how badly you can screw up your life plans in 140 characters.

Papachristou spent years preparing for Olympic glory in London. She passed every physical test the Greek Olympic Committee could throw at her, but it was a philosophical one that tripped her up in the end. Papachristou stumbled on the political correctness exam, and there are no make-up tests for that one. We can all be different, as long as we all think the same way about one another’s differences.

Papachristou crossed the line, the Greeks said. But what line? Where is it drawn? Whom exactly can you lampoon in today’s world and whom can you not? Could the fair-haired Greek have ribbed her fellow countrymen for their fabled pecuniary fastidiousness? Would a blonde joke have done her in?

The rest of this column is at Newsday Westchester.  Thanks for reading!

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