Well now, apparently the first amendment is becoming a distant memory to some. The Miami Marlins have suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games for comments he made to Time magazine in which he has been perceived to have made favorable comments on Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Three major issues with this ridiculous sentencing.
First off, and the most simple issue, English is not Guillen’s natural language, and it would appear the reported comment has been taken out of context. Guillen told Time magazine, for an article published last week, that he 'loves' Castro and respects him for staying in power for so long. This was buried amongst other less inflammatory comments, and Guillen has since tried to clarify the situation by stating repeatedly that he does not admire Castro. He said when the comments were made, he was talking about how he was surprised Castro was able to remain in power so long, given the number of people he has harmed.
He has stressed, and this for me is the crucial aspect; "The interpretation didn't come out as I wanted," Guillen said in Spanish "I was thinking in Spanish and I said the wrong thing in English."
Straight off the bat, Guillen should get a ‘pass’ on this one.
Secondly, it would appear Guillen is being punished for expressing admiration for a world leader. Doesn’t matter what you think of his politics, all Guillen was doing was expressing admiration for the length of his stay in power. He didn’t slander anyone. He wasn’t using hate speech. He was expressing a pretty mundane opinion.
Why is Guillen being suspended for five games (an extremely steep suspension) when Jason Whitlock was not suspended for one second for using a disgraceful racial stereotype in describing Jeremy Lin earlier in the NBA season? Whitlock was not fined or suspended, despite the fact his disgraceful comment was nothing short of disgusting, racially motivated and extremely ugly.
Thirdly, and finally, the United States constitution protects its people from punishment or persecution around the area of free speech, It is one of the most important sections of the constitution, and the Miami Marlins, in their stern, unwarranted actions, are in direct opposition of the constitution.
Ozzie Guillen is a clever, successful, intelligent man, an entertaining man, with his own opinions on the state of the world and world affairs. His crime would appear to be honesty and a willingness to speak his mind. He hasn’t used hate-speech, he hasn’t been disrespectful or rude, he simply spoke his opinion and that opinion appears to also have been taken somewhat out of context.
There should be absolutely no issue here, and yet Guillen has been suspended for five games, whilst others who make far more serious statements roam the Internet, free to peddle their ignorant brand of nasty hate speech.
This is not what the founding fathers had in mind when they gave the United States the First Amendment, and its populace the freedom of expression and thought that, supposedly, US troops are wandering the four corners of the globe protecting.