Guest Editorials EDITORIAL: WWE's promotion of Ultimate Warrior as champion of courage and compassion conflicts with his words, clashes with stance on Hogan
Aug 6, 2015 - 9:48:30 PM
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PWTorch reader Brian Heiss submitted the following guest editorial to PWTorch which originally ran as a Letter to the Editor in last week's PWTorch Newsletter PDF edition. To submit a guest editorial for consideration, send to firstname.lastname@example.org and put Guest Editorial in the subject line. It must be well-edited, ideally 6-12 paragraphs, and focused on a single topic.
The statement from WWE announcing the termination of its contract with Hulk Hogan emphasized the company’s commitment to diversity & inclusion. Their statemend said: “WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
WWE should be commended for demonstrating that its corporate diversity mission statement is more than just words on their website and that the company is committed to fostering an inclusive environment where the individual differences among us are respected, valued and recognized as a source of strength for the Company.
Let’s examine WWE’s corporate diversity mission statement: “Our Mission: To break down prejudices and promote a culture of fairness and respect through programs and initiatives that educate, enrich, and empower people to create a positive social environment for all, regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or physical ability.”
The company’s termination of Terry Bollea/Hulk Hogan for the abhorrent, closed-minded, repulsive comments he made during a private conversation is a small but important development in the company’s journey towards inclusion. There are several other small but important actions that WWE must implement immediately in order to demonstrate that its corporate diversity mission statement is more than simply words on a website and that WWE did not simply utilize it as a tool in its crisis communications efforts in response to the Hogan comments being published.
If WWE is serious about bringing its diversity mission statement to fruition, the company must adapt the same standards used for Hogan to a man whose actions and words in life can accurately be described as the antithesis of WWE’s diversity mission statement: Ultimate Warrior.
A few days ago, WWE also announced an Ultimate Warrior book launch event Summerslam weekend including a Warrior statue, museum displays, a face paint artist, and more at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. Triple H is scheduled to attend along with Warrior's family.
In 2015 WWE announced the creation of a new annual award with Ultimate Warrior as its namesake:
“The Warrior Award, which will be presented each year at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Warrior Award will be given to someone who has exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of WWE Hall of Famer, The Ultimate Warrior.”
Anyone who has read Ultimate Warrior’s own words and the comments of his peers has the clear understanding that Warrior proved time and time again that he had zero compassion for those different than him. Honoring and celebrating a man who was a homophobe and racist who chose to bully those different than him causes one to question if WWE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is simply empty words on a website.
Let’s examine the abhorrent, closed-minded, repulsive public comments unapologetically made by Ultimate Warrior during his life:
After viewing African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans Warrior wrote: “If we could be shown what general conditions they lived in before the hurricane, we would see that had little respect for what they did have. We would see just how unorganized, unclean and dysfunctionally they lived. They never gave a care for order, cleanliness, or function before, but now that they can get someone’s attention who will possibly take over the responsibility of their life for them. They go on these tirades about how their life has been ruined. Their lives were already in ruin—self ruin. Ruined by the bad choices they made over and over.
“And they are fat. Have you ever seen so many fat people? Poverty? Poverty of what? Having enough to buy so much food to eat that you become obese—this is poverty? Only one TV? This is poverty? A house with a roof over your head? This is poverty? Indoor plumbing? Electric appliances? Refrigeration? Phones? Cell phones? Computers? Designer clothes made by rap stars? $200 Nikes? Free medicine and medical care if you really need it? Is having all this poverty? What the hell, then, do we call the scenes they shoot out of Africa that they use to lay guilt trips down on all of us?
“They claim New Orleans was (is) a great city. Maybe once it was, I don’t know. Too, maybe it’s just always been corrupt as it has been for years and years. Truth is, today, it was nothing more than a pornographic cesspool of decadence and depravity. You know, an East Coast version of that Las Vegas take on vacation time—‘what you do there stays there.’ You go there, drink and drink and drink and behave like a pervert, reprobate, and degenerate, take a huge dose of antibiotics and a nice extra long shower before you hop on the plane back home, and, ‘Hey, who knows any better?’ You go back to the church, PTA, and local council and ‘squarely’ fit right back in. One thing is for sure: IF New Orleans ever was a great city, it certainly was not because it had leaders and citizenry like the leaders and citizenry it has today.
*Note: New Orleans was the city where WWE inducted Warrior into it’s Hall of Fame.
Ultimate Warrior Shares His Views on Martin Luther King Jr: “Martin Luther King can have his own self-titled birthday recognized as a National Holiday, but not our country’s First President? Should I go on? Should I have to? Do I want to? Will I? You bet your ass I will. Let’s see if I understand this correctly. Or should I say, let’s see if I can get to anywhere near a ‘correct understanding’ of this piece of nonsense by, first, understanding it sensically using political-incorrectness? Martin marched a few times from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery, Ala. It’s only about 40 miles and he walked along paved roads with security escorts and modern comforts and conveniences. He wrote a few jailhouse letters, plagiarized a great many speeches, and played up his last name ‘King’ as if he was ONE. He led his best rally amid the monuments of Washington, D.C. He preached proper, righteous behavior while he at the same time committed adultery many publicly verifiable times—oh, and he had ‘a dream.’”
Ultimate Warrior on Bobby Heenan’s Cancer: “As for you, Booby Heenan, it’s just too difficult to keep a straight face talking about the pure two-faced bag of sh-- you are (and have always been), what, with you also actually wearing one as a piece of body jewelry. You are dying, dis-eased on the inside, and no more time is left to get back any of the integrity that matters the most on death’s bed. Imagine what it will be like, lying there taking in your last breaths, knowing you whored yourself out your whole life, and had to, in your final years, be faced with emptying your own personal sh–– bag affirming to you the true value of what you achieved in your life. Not even Vince could come up with a better finish than this. Karma is just a beautiful thing to behold.”
Ultimate Warrior Referring to WWE Employees as “the Queer” and “the Cripple” (Ultimate Warrior replies to Byte This! invitation: http://www.wwe.com/inside/news/archive/warriorreply):
“As promised, WWE.com has Ultimate Warrior’s reply to the open invitation to appear on Byte This!, where he was offered an open microphone to talk about anything at all in an uncensored forum. Unfortunately, Warrior declined the offer to speak his mind. He did, however, post the following comment:
Warrior on WWE’s Invitation to Appear on Byte This: “Of course, I do NOT accept this brainless, disgraceful invitation. F––– NO, I do not. You can rescue yourself, Vince. Do your own damage control. I’ve no ear for your begging anymore. Only if you were on fire would I help you. It’d just be too hard to resist pissing on you. Open mic? Then let it truly be open. Let your audience have some fresh air. Flush the toilet bowl once. Let them hear something intelligent, decent, and truthful for once. Give them, Vince, what they want—just like you are always bragging about what WWE does. Let them be proud for just a few moments that the energetic, intense, and colorful Ultimate Warrior persona they loved when they were little kids didn’t become a self-pitying, disappointing, broken-down has-been like all the other brittle-minded skeletons traipsing around your locker rooms or now buried in forgotten about graves. Order the queer and the cripple who host the show to read what I have written here and here, and while they do that have them hold up mirrors looking at themselves so they can know exactly the kind of people in your organization I’m writing about. No apologies—I don’t discriminate for the handicapped who sign on to behave degenerately.”
•On the death of Heath Ledger and the film “Brokeback Mountain”: “In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you I have watched ‘Brokeback Mountain’ no less than 45 times and I own the Limited Edition DVD, signed by Willie Nelson a short time after he wrote that queer cowboy song as a tribute to the courage of the producers and actors who broke such incredible creative ground when they made their agenda-less movie.
“Serious. Until I saw ‘Bendover Brokeback,’ ‘Braveheart’ was my favorite movie. But the love scenes of Brokeback sucked me right in and I had no choice but to give myself over to the passion of its wide open range, if you get my drift. Such courage this young man and his colleagues have. Reminds me of the courage of classic movie stars, where during the War they enlisted and flew bomber planes and fought on frontlines, then came back and picked up their lives and careers right where they left off, without anti-American sentiment, whining, and complaining, or self-destructive self indulgence. I’m equally inspired.
“Apparently, Leather Hedger had sleeping troubles and anxiety and dealt with terrible mood swings. So do soldiers but they don’t self-destructively f––– up their lives. In fact, they don’t sleep, handle anxiety and mood swings while dealing with whether or not they might at any moment lose their life. And they do this all the while they are dangerously protecting the freedom of others to f––– up their own. By the way, how many 28 (or older or younger) year old soldiers met their death yesterday? It’s not easy to find out. None of them made the headlines of any news. By today’s standard, though, I do have to agree that he was a great father. Perhaps even greater then the father of the year, Hulk Hogan. After all, Leather Hedger did what it took to kill himself. His kid is without a father, yes, but the negative influence is now removed and his own child has the chance for a full recovery. Hogan, on the other hand, won’t go quite that far. He insists on sticking around to keep further ruining, and profiting off of, the parentally mismanaged lives of his own children. It is sad and tragic ... that we don’t demand attention be paid to greater things.”
On Multiculturalism: “At an appearance at the University of Connecticut in 2005, Warrior lamented that multiculturalism and tolerance has resulted in a society where “the bum is as legitimate as the businessman... that queers are as legitimate as heterosexuals... that Kwanza is just as legitimate as Santa Claus and Christmas.” When asked to explain his view that that homosexuality is illegitimate, Warrior said, “because queering doesn’t make the world work.”
He told a gay student to “take that object out of your mouth when speaking to me.”
Warrior mocked a woman upset at his homophobic remarks and told her, “Don’t have an orgasm, honey.”
When an Iranian student asked the Warrior a question, Warrior told the student to “get a towel.”
Tidbits from Ultimate Warrior’s 2006 Anti-Diversity Speech at DePaul University:
-Gay and lesbian couples (or “queers”, for brevity) have the same disease as pedophile priests in the Catholic Church.
-Israelis are “sub-human” because they fight with rocks.
-That his five-year-old daughter would grow up feminine “in every sense of the word.”
-Told a lecture attendee to “go masturbate at home” when the attendee complimented Hellwig on his wrestling accomplishments.
-Responding to hard questions with the stock answer “your question doesn’t make any sense.”
In this March 2014 clip Bret Hart Describes Ultimate Warrior’s “Compassion” for Sick Children: (https://youtu.be/Iw19nQwW-_8)
“It is clear that Ultimate Warrior’s abhorrent, closed-minded, repulsive public comments are no less offensive and disgusting than the comments made by Hulk Hogan that resulted in WWE terminating Hogan’s contract and almost completely removing him from its website and the WWE Network.
To demonstrate that their commitment to diversity and inclusion is more than just words on a website, WWE must immediately announce that it will no longer allow an award for someone “who lives life with the courage and compassion” to bear the name of a homophobic bigot whose words and actions in life were the antithesis of WWE’s diversity mission statement to “promote a culture of fairness and respect.”
A corporation that holds Hulk Hogan accountable for vile comments from years ago must hold Ultimate Warrior accountable as well. While Hogan’s hateful words were made in private and recorded secretly, Ultimate Warrior’s were made publicly and knowingly; the lived his life publicly disparaging those different from him and fostering an unwelcoming environment which showed no respect for diverse populations.
During his time in the business and when publicly speaking throughout the rest of his life Warrior was not a good person and never demonstrated any of the qualities which the WWE’s rewriting of history has bestowed on him. Publicly, Warrior never demonstrated an iota of humanity or compassion; he may have been great with his wife and daughters, but I’m sure that Saddam’s wife and kids thought he was great too.
To be clear: a company committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive environment cannot and must not celebrate and honor a racist, homophobic man who never recanted the hate of diverse populations he spewed throughout his life.
In the wake of the Hulk Hogan incident and WWE’s response, if the company moves forward with its planned celebration of the life of Ultimate Warrior during SummerSlam weekend and the Warrior Award in 2016, it will send the clear message to its employees, fans, community partners, and other key stakeholders that WWE’s commitment to diversity is nothing more than words on a website and photo-ops.
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