Friday, April 3, 2009
Questions and answers from UFC president Dana White
By Mary Buckheit
Mary Buckheit talked Thursday night with UFC president Dana White in an exclusive interview regarding White's recent web tirade.
Mary Buckheit: You went on the attack yesterday
Dana: Yeah, I did. I went on the attack and I ended up attacking someone I didn't mean to. I absolutely, positively meant to attack the reporter, Loretta Hunt from Sherdog. Absolutely.
But in attacking her you used a word that offends most everybody.
Yeah, I know that now. I know there are words that you can't use. I was talking to [one of the guys on my staff] today, who I've known forever, and we've been friends for [expletive] 10 years, and he's gay and he told me that the f-word is the new n-word. It's just as intolerable as the n-word. Honestly, now I know. You learn something every day.
If you came out with a ghostwritten, textbook apology, nobody would believe it anyway and then I'd be on you for selling out and shrugging this off with a trite contrition.
Oh, I know. Write some canned statement from the company -- there's no [expletive] way I was going to do that. C'mon. And then people told me I should just make a donation -- no [expletive] way. That's just as bad. People say stupid s--- all the time and do stupid s--- all the time to cover for it. You know what the reality is? The reality is the way that I did this thing was on the video blog. That's how it went down. That's where I always talk to the fans and that's why I'm talking to you and no other reporters. I recorded a response for the video blog. That's it. Other than that, that's all. I'm not talking to anybody else but you. I'm not defending myself to people who don't know me and are all of a sudden all over me. I'm not homophobic and I'm not anti-gay. I used a word that I shouldn't have used and I hurt people.
There are a lot of people scripting the apology that you should be giving right now. Do you think anybody deserves an apology?
I hurt people that I didn't intend to hurt and when you do something like that, yes, I believe that you should say you're sorry. I never intended to hurt anybody in the gay community, or be malicious, or look like a hateful guy. I never meant to hurt anyone in the gay or lesbian community at all, in any way, shape or form. I would never do that. I was speaking to Loretta Hunt. I didn't mean to bring those people into this; it had nothing to do with them and for that, I'm sorry.
I really didn't know the power of that word.
A lot of people won't buy that, Dana.
Look, I lived in Southie. I say a lot of things, a lot of which people won't [expletive] like. OK, but you know, when I was living there -- and this was when I was a young [expletive] idiot, like 21 years old. I lived next door to a lesbian couple and they used to get terrorized -- terrorized. South Boston back in the day was a crazy [expletive] place to be. A black cab driver would tell you to "[expletive] off." Anyway, I became friends with the two girls next door and, put it this way, I made sure they never got terrorized anymore. They were getting their windows broken and their trash cans knocked over and I made sure that nobody said s--- about them, or did anything to them. I told everybody to leave my [expletive] friends alone. And they're still my friends. I just threw a party with House of Pain on Saint Patrick's Day and one of the Southie girls came. I [expletive] love her. I'm 39 years old. I'm a grown-up. I shouldn't have used the word I used yesterday but I am not [expletive] anti-gay. That's not who the I am. I have a ton of gay friends, and co-workers and people very close to me and I know who the [expletive] I am. I know and so do my friends. At the end of the day I don't need to explain myself to anybody.
But a slip like this makes people wonder: Hey, what does Dana White think about gay and lesbian people?
I know. My PR department has been trying to get me in Out Magazine for years because of my opinion on gay marriage. I think people should be able to marry whoever the [expletive] they want. I'll tell anybody that. And I believe that when a gay person holds a job, they should absolutely get benefits for both people in the relationship just like any other regular married couple. Who the [expletive] is anybody to judge or tell another person how to live their life? I'm not into that. That's absolutely [expletive] ridiculous. No one has any right to do that to people, [expletive] that s---.
Which is great, but you understand why people are still really offended by the word you used.
Yeah. I talked to the people from GLAAD [the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] today. I had a great conversation with them. I get it.
You've seen other guys in the light like you go down for saying some awful things on camera.
Yeah, but you know what the difference is? Those guys, like Dog The Bounty Hunter, right, who flipped out when his kid was dating a black chick and he was dropping the n-word left and right. Or Imus who said that hurtful stuff directly about girls on a basketball team. Or guys that say they hate gay people or they are anti-gay. There's that stuff -- attacks directed specifically at someone. When I was going off and I said that word it wasn't directed at anybody gay, or toward anybody's sexual orientation. That's not what I intended. I was talking about an anonymous guy or girl who gave a quote and then refused to have their name printed in a story that was complete dog [expletive] on a Web site that I've had beef with since the day they bought this company and they hate me and I hate them. So there was an attack and it was on the Web site and the ridiculous story and the reporter couldn't get a named source. I was not going after gay people. I never meant to bring that community into this.
But you did, because you used a word that is either used to demean gay men, or emasculate and thereby embarrass straight guys because locker-room culture can't get away from the polarizing effect of effeminacy. I know you well enough to know that you weren't thinking of that when you dropped the f-word, but you can't say that word.
I know. I know that now. I should have used another word.
Personally, I think words are just words. They have the power we give them, which makes some very powerful. People either love you or hate you, Dana, all because of the words you're so unafraid to throw around. You're not filtered like the other commissioners. But your video blog is so popular and so visible, especially to that magic young demo. I worry teenage Dana-disciples now think it's OK to call somebody the f-word because you did it.
I know. [Pause] I know, and that's what I don't want.
You yourself talk about you in Southie as an idiot kid. You know boys and so many others are glued to your every move.
I know. And you know what? The thing that sucks is that video rant, the feedback I got was not negative. It was overwhelmingly positive from our fans. It was, "Yeah, you go, Dana. You're the man."
At the end of the day, the worst thing for me is that I don't want anybody thinking that it's cool to say that word, especially now that I know the word f----- is as powerful as the n-word. I don't want these kids out there watching me and thinking it's cool. I don't want that.
I want them to know that I agree with the issues of people in the gay community and shouldn't have said that word. The reality is -- I swear a lot, you know that. I swear all the time. It's not just a thing I do on blogs or on TV or at work -- I swear all the time. I swear everywhere. I swear. Am I going to turn over a new leaf and stop swearing? Who knows? Maybe I will. But right now, that's what I do.
Tomorrow and the day after that, will you use the n-word, or the f-word?
I never say the n-word. Ever. I swear all the time. I swear at home in front of my kids, but I'm a psycho about the n-word. Never. It's racist. It hurts people. It's never OK. I didn't think of the f-word like that.
Now I do.
As you, in your own words, take this spectacle and make it a sport, do you realize your public responsibility to make sure you don't look like a bad guy, or worse, a bigot?
Yeah. I did today. Honestly, I think all in all that this was a good experience for me. I say a lot of things. I do a lot of things. I absolutely meant to attack Loretta Hunt and her story and that Web site. There are times when I will go after people on purpose. Plus, I swear a lot because, to me, words are just words. I really believe that, that's just me. So with that blog, I never meant to offend so many people just by using that word. I never thought I could. It didn't occur to me. I especially didn't mean to hurt my gay friends. But I now know that the reality is, whether you mean to hurt anybody or not, you do. You just do. Now I know.
Mary Buckheit is a Page 2 columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.