A Michigan state representative is under fire for posting a racist tweet equating NBA players with criminals.
On Sunday, Michigan Rep. Pat Garofalo (R) sent out the following tweet, which has by now picked up 1,300 retweets.
Let's be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime
â€” Rep. Pat Garofalo (@PatGarofalo) March 9, 2014
Garofalo quickly got criticism for his tweet; people called his equating NBA players with criminals racist. This is far from the first time Garofalo has trash-talked the NBA on Twitter, but it appears to be the first time he’s done so with such racial insensitivity. Still, Garofalo says it’s not about race.
“I was talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate and that their punishment for positive drugs tests are weaker than other leagues,” Garofalo explained to Buzzfeed in an email. “No intent beyond that. The culture among many pro athletes that they are above the law is the problem, not people like me pointing that problem out.”
In a separate email to The Diss, Garofalo elaborated that the NBA is “the only major pro league in which testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.”
As The Diss notes, however, Garofalo is patently wrong about marijuana in the NBA. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement stipulates that any player who tests positive for marijuana will be forced to enter the league’s Marijuana Program. Subsequent violations can cost the offending player $25,000 and five games on the bench.
The Diss also points out that the NBA actually has an arrest rate well below the national average. In 2012, the national arrest rate stood at 3.8 percent, while only five NBA players were arrested for any crime. That brings the NBA’s arrest rate to an incredibly low 1.1 percent, far lower than the national average.