Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Ozzie Guillen and freedom of speech

I am quoted in a story on CNN about the five-game suspension that the Miami Marlins handed down to manager Ozzie Guillen for his recent comments about Fidel Castro.

Obviously, this is not a First Amendment problem, since no government entity is sanctioning or censoring Guillen. In fact, this is sort of what the First Amendment envisions: Guillen said something and a whole bunch of people are engaging in counter-speech, criticizing him, calling for a boycott, etc. It was the last one that caused the Marlins to engage in their own counter-speech by suspending him, thus expressing their displeasure with his comments. It perhaps would be nice if a large institution such as the Marlins would, in some sense, support free speech values by not sanctioning Guillen for what is clearly protected expression and only tangentially related to his job. But, again, the team has its own interests to protect and its own expressive rights that it may exercise.

Honestly, though, this all seems silly. The Marlins knew Guillen was a loose cannon when they hired him, so it is hard to take their outrage over his comments seriously. The outrage over his comments generally seems unwarranted; Guillen didn't express support or love for Castro, but made the (true) point that folks have been trying to kill Castro for going on 55 years and he's still holding on. But having lived in Miami for almost a decade, I understand and am not surprised by the reaction. Saying anything not negative about Castro is a bit like saying anything not negative about Hitler; I don't buy the equivalence, but that is a matter of perspective.

No comments:

Post a Comment