In the latest example of how even the most innocent use of some terms triggers the thin-skinned “woke” outrage mob, ESPN college basketball analyst Bill Walton is taking heavy fire for his use of the word “midget” during the network’s coverage of the PAC-12 tournament.
Walton, an NCAA and NBA legend who has enjoyed a long-post playing career as an announcer is facing a firestorm over the comment which was made during a lighthearted moment joking around with his broadcast partner Dave Pasch during the halftime break of the contest between Arizona State and USC.
“He does not need a little chair, because he is a giant in a world of shriveling midgets. And speaking of shriveling midgets, what was your name again?” Walton playfully asked the veteran play-by-play announcer, likely unaware that he had just whacked a hornet’s nest and would soon be on the menu of grievance grifters and culture warriors.
"I don't know what you consumed at halftime."- Dave Pasch to Bill Walton 🏀🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/MsuxaVnLnR
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 10, 2023
“I don’t know what you consumed at halftime,” said Pasch, shrugging off another of the 70-year-old Walton’s quirky comments by suggesting that the longtime fan of the psychedelic hippie band The Grateful Dead may have been imbibing on mind-altering substances.
But many were not amused, including the nonprofit organization Little People of America which describes its mission as being “dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with dwarfism throughout their lives while celebrating with great pride Little People’s contribution to social diversity.”
“Those who use the term midget or any terminology that further stigmatizes people born with dwarfism are asked to educate themselves to eradicate this word,” LPA said in a statement to TMZ Sports, describing Walton’s use of the offensive word as “deplorable and inexcusable.”
The organization also demanded an apology from the longtime ESPN announcer and urged Pasch to denounce his colleague at the “woke” sports network.
“Little People of America is asking Bill Walton to issue an apology and vow to use appropriate terminology rooted in respect and dignity going forward,” the nonprofit group said. “We hope that in the future Dave Pasch will speak up against disparaging language in solidarity with our organization fighting for disability equity and justice.”
During his playing career, the towering Walton struck an imposing presence with his 7-foot frame and intense demeanor, leading legendary college basketball coach John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins to a pair of NCAA championships in the early 1970s before being picked by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers with the first overall pick in the 1974 draft.
Walton would go on to win two NBA championships despite battling injuries during his 10-year pro career, leading the Blazers to the hardware in 1977 and later, with the Boston Celtics in 1986, he entered the world of sports broadcasting after hanging up his cleats where he has spent decades, most recently at ESPN.
In 2015, LPA issued a statement calling for the abolishment of the “m-word” in a preview of what would be a future where aggrieved identity groups would have great success in cleansing the English language of terms that they dislike.
“The word ‘midget’ was never coined as the official term to identify people with dwarfism, but was created as a label used to refer to people of short stature who were on public display for curiosity and sport,” the group said. “Today, the word ‘midget’ is considered a derogatory slur. The dwarfism community has voiced that they prefer to be referred to as dwarfs, little people, people of short stature or having dwarfism, or simply, and most preferably, by their given name.”
Walton has not been suspended by ESPN, at least not yet, nor has he commented on the ginned-up firestorm over his use of the “m-word” during Thursday’s game which was won by the ASU Sun Devils by a score of 77-72.
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