Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What April 10th Means To Me: Ozzie Guillen

Doesn't the first amendment say something about freedom of speech?

Recently,Ozzie Guillen, the manager for Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins, uttered some thoughts in support of  Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's ability to stay in power despite such heavy dissent.  Now, personally, I think Ozzie Guillen is a bit of a blowhard asshole, but not because of the recent comments he made to Time Magazine. 

Here's the comment:

“I love Fidel Castro…I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still there.”

And, of course, there was/is uproar over the insensitivity of it. This is a major problem for the Marlins, especially when they are trying to fortify their fanbase through the vast Cuban community in the South Florida area.  Cuban groups have already claimed they will boycott games, while others have called for Guillen's ouster.  And, due to the public pressure, the Marlins have suspended Guillen for five games.

All I can say is...slippery slope, people.  He's a baseball manager.  And, honestly, his comments have been blown way out of proportion.

Freedom of speech has taken a strange turn these last few years as "political correctness" has become more important than volatile opinion.  But while I can understand why a suspension may be worthy for overt, inflammatory remarks (for example, if Guillen had said "I wish all (enter racial group here) should die,") I don't quite get why punishment is warranted for these remarks, which seem more historically based than anything.  I understand why the Marlins need damage control to quell the uproar from the fanbase, but I'm not sure why unpaid leave (suspension) is the obvious course of action.  He's being punished for a somewhat innocuous opinion.  Even if he did support Castro's unpopular politics, so what?  Is this the new red scare?  What's next?  Suspending baseball players for poor play because their errors offend the fanbase?  Regardless, he never supported Castro's modus operandi or his opinions, just his ability to stay in power despite lack of support.  That's it. 

I know some media members have wondered if Guillen would be fired if he said the same about Adolf Hitler.  But again, he wasn't coming out in support of a political agenda or the oppression of people.  He was only speaking to the resiliency of someone who was able to stay in power despite the strong world opinion that he should be ousted.  If he thought the same about Hitler, honestly I could understand that. 

He's a baseball manager for crissakes, not a political leader ready to wield power with an army.  Relax. 

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