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Patrick Hruby

Jeremy Lin, Jason Whitlock, Floyd Mayweather and the ignore button

Jason Whitlock is a stone-cold professional s__t-stirrer. Floyd Mayweather is an accomplished amateur at the same. I say this with no disrespect toward either man - boxers and writers tend to be provocateurs; both pursuits largely deal in controlled aggression - but rather as a reaction to their insensitive, boorish, racially-charged remarks about Jeremy Lin, and also the outraged reaction to those remarks.

I mean: did anyone expect Whitlock or Mayweather to go all Elizabeth Barrett Browning?

Mayweather says Lin is being hyped for his race, not his play. Whitlock made a Twitter crack about Asian men having small penises. Typically content to squabble among themselves, Internet commentors are plenty pissed off at Mayweather; meanwhile, the Asian American Journalists Association demanded an apology from Whitlock, who quickly complied.

(Personally, I wish Whitlock would have apologized for being so boring and lazy with his racial comic stylings. Honestly: the Asian small d__k thing? That's bringing the funny? What next, some cutting-edge humor on how white guys can't dance and black guys don't dig hockey? Jason: you can do better. Whitlock also blamed his Tweet on listening to Richard Pryor albums as a child, which is like me blaming a crummy, confusing, overlong sentence with footnotes on reading too much David Foster Wallace. I think Pryor is owed a mea culpa here as well).

Anyway, here's what I don't understand: why anyone responds to this stuff by getting hot and bothered, as opposed to just yawning. Again, this is what Whitlock and Mayweather do. They're hardly first-time offenders. They offend on a regular basis. They court obvious, honey-in-front-of-a-bear controversy as ardently as Pepe Le Pew courted that poor painted cat. Taking their bait is the whole point. Angry reactions elevate their importance. Get people talking. About them. (See Whitlock's apology, which was more about Whitlock than the people he offended, or his follow-up Lin column, a short-track luge run of half-baked, unsubstantiated socio-cultural assertions that somehow ends up being about the author's favorite subject: the self-styled Truth-to-Power Courage of Jason Whitlock). And far as I can tell, that's the (rather profitable) end game for both men, each of whom has a lot more in common with Sarah Palin and old-school Madonna than either probably realizes.

Some unsolicited advice to offended parties: the next time someone like Whitlock or Mayweather says something you dislike, don't fight back. Don't get mad. Don't post a rebuttal. Don't call for someone to get fired. Don't do anything. Just ignore it. Otherwise, you're only giving them what they want, and giving yourself away in the process.