Ah, celebrities. They seem to have it all — fame, looks and money. Stars have the world at their beck and call — until they call out the wrong things to the wrong people. Though one might think a person so blessed would mind his or her manners, the truth is that many a superstar has crossed the line by publicly spouting off slurs, stereotypes and sick remarks.
But offensive slips of the tongues aren't relegated to the rich and famous. If your company's employees engage in such deplorable behavior, it could open your business up to troubles such as decreased morale, high turnover and expensive discrimination lawsuits. So what kind of offensive language should the HR department be on the lookout for? Take a cue from the following 25 celebrities, who should have added sensitivity training to their acting lessons.
1. Mel Gibson
This "Lethal Weapon" star and director of "The Passion of the Christ" has a huge chip on his shoulder. During a traffic stop for drunk driving in 2006, he blamed Jewish people "for all the wars in the world." He's still apologizing for the slip to this day.
2. Don Imus
The radio talk-show host contracted figurative foot-in-mouth disease after he characterized the Rutgers University women's basketball team players as "nappy-headed hos" in 2007. But those comments weren't his first slips; Imus has in the past made fun of African Americans, Jewish people, Arabs and women.
3. Michael Richards, aka "Kramer"
Like the tiny-dog-in-the-purse trend, celebrities kept hopping on the racial-slur bandwagon in 2006. "Seinfeld" co-star Michael Richards pouted the "n" word and other unsavory phrases after being heckled during his stand-up act at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood. He later apologized.
4. Isaiah Washington
The actor was fired from the ABC hit medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" last year after reportedly using an anti-gay slur during an argument on the set of the show with co-star T.R. Knight. Washington later met with gay and lesbian groups in Los Angeles, entered counseling and filmed a public service announcement cautioning against hurtful speech.
5. Jimmy the Greek
More than 20 years ago, the late CBS Sports commentator Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder explained why he thought African Americans excelled in sports. Snyder said, "The black is the better athlete. And he practices to be the better athlete, and he's bred to be the better athlete because this goes way back to the slave period. The slave owner would breed this big black with this big black woman so he could have a big black kid." Snyder later apologized for his outlandish remarks.
6. Fuzzy Zoeller
In the Tiger Woods era of golf, many younger fans only know Fuzzy Zoeller as the old guy that blasted Tiger with some very racist comments at the Masters in 1997. Fuzzy referred to Tiger Woods as "that little boy" and urged him not to order fried chicken or collard greens for the Master Club Champion's Dinner next year.
7. John McCain
The presumptive 2008 Republican presidential nominee is not afraid to borrow his wife's private jet, then call her the worst word you could ever call a woman. (Hint: It starts with a "c.") During his 1992 bid for the Senate, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you ... " Stay classy, Senator.
8. Mark Furhman
This Former Los Angeles Police Department detective and FOX News radio commentator found the famous O.J. Simpson glove in 1994. Furhman said on FOX News' show "Hannity & Colmes" that the type of "people" he "dealt with ... for 20 years" will "kill somebody and go have some chicken at KFC. You will catch them eating chicken and drinking a beer after they just murdered three people." Later in the broadcast, co-host Alan Colmes insinuated that Furhman was talking about a certain race.
9. Brigitte Bardot
The 73-year-old French former actress chose Muslims as her group to attack. She went to trial in April 2008 for saying the Muslim community was "destroying our country and imposing its acts." The incident market the fifth time that Bardot has faced the charge of "inciting racial hatred" over remarks about Islam.
10. Jason Wahler
The cuddly-as-a-cactus "The Hills" character lost his cool in 2007 when he fired racial and homophobic slurs at a police officer after being arrested for punching a hotel security guard and passing out drunk in a hallway in Seattle. It was Wahler's third arrest in eight months.
11. Duane "Dog" Chapman: Duane "Dog" Chapman's reality TV show about being a bounty hunter was put on hold after a private phone call was released of him using the "n" word.
12. Jerry Lewis: The aging comedian used an anti-gay slur during the 2007 broadcast of his annual Labor Day telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The context involved him pretending to introduce members of someone's family. He later apologized.
13. Amy Winehouse: As if the British singer doesn't have enough problems, a recently released YouTube video shows her singing a racist version of "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes." Her husband, perpetual lawbreaker Blake Fielder-Civil, filmed the piece.
14. Shia LaBeouf: A video recently surfaced on YouTube of the "Transformers" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" star hurling anti-gay slurs to encourage his friend to slap him in a slapping contest. The clip was apparently shot years ago. E!'s Marc Malkin reported that LaBeouf was sorry.
15. Kelis: "Milkshake" singer Kelis is apparently not as sweet as the beverage she croons about. In early 2007, she was arrested in Miami Beach for hurling racial slurs at two undercover police officers posing as prostitutes.
16. Eva Longoria: Longoria reportedly dissed her own ethnicity in late 2005 when a San Antonio police officer said that she and her husband, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, yelled insults and profanities after he told them to move their car. The officer who wrote up the citations said Longoria shouted out the passenger window, "He's just a Mexican bike cop. He only wants your autograph."
17. Darren Hayes: The lead singer of Savage Garden allegedly yelled racial slurs at a male waiter at a Thai restaurant in London in 2007. He was arrested and later released on bail.
18. Andy Dick: In 2006, this comedian used the "n" word onstage during a routine by Ian Bagg at The Improv. The 40-year-old former co-star of the '90s sitcom "NewsRadio" issued an apology through his publicist.
19. Paris Hilton: Folks may think that pretty, puddle-brained Paris is incapable of even formulating a sentence, but she did manage to eke out a gay slur in 2007. A video of the hotel heiress referring to friend as using an anti-gay slur and describing herself and sister Nicky with a rude slang term for African-Americans prompted leaders of the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to ask for a public apology.
20. Alycia Lane: This Philadelphia news anchor got arrested in December 2007 after calling a female New York Police Department officer a "b***h" after the car she was riding in was pulled over. Lane denied the allegations and was later fired from the station.
21. Halle Berry: Actress Halle Berry issued a public apology after making an apparent anti-Semitic joke on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in the fall of 2007. During the taping for the show, Berry showed Leno distorted images of herself on a computer, including one picture of her with a large nose, saying, "Here's where I look like my Jewish cousin!" Berry later requested that the footage be scrapped.
22. Alec Baldwin: Rather than offend an entire gender, race or sexual orientation, the "30 Rock" star in 2007 chose to chastise his 12-year-old daughter on a voice mail. Baldwin has regularly accused ex-wife Kim Basinger — with whom he's been locked in a six-year custody battle over his daughter — of playing games with scheduling his visits. That ongoing issue prompted Baldwin to call his preteen "a rude, thoughtless pig."
23. Michael Ray Richardson: In 2007, the former NBA All-Star and Continental Basketball Association coach made anti-Semitic comments to two reporters in his office when discussing a contract offering. "I've got big-time lawyers," Richardson said, according to the Albany Times-Union. "I've got big-time Jew lawyers."
24. Sharon Stone: Taking on the most-populous country in the world takes guts. And privates-bearing actress Sharon Stone apparently had them when she said that the May 2008 earthquake in China that killed up to 70,000 people "was karma" for the country's mistreatment of Tibet. Cosmetics company Christian Dior took action by removing images of Stone promoting the company's products from department stores across Beijing.
25. Charlie Sheen: Like John McCain, Charlie Sheen called ex-wife Denise Richards the worst thing you can call a woman and used the "n" word in voice-mail messages in 2005. The divorced couple share custody of two children. Sheen later apologized.
Regardless of whether salacious stars will ever learn their lessons on verbal etiquette, preventing such offensive behavior at your company will help minimize employee dispute and keep the work environment pleasant for all employees.
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