If you haven’t heard, the Florida (“Miami”) Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games in response to the favorable comments about Fidel Castro he made in an interview with Time magazine. I think Guillen’s comments warrant some examination. This is what he said:
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 motherf****r is still here.
On their face, these comments do not strike me as all that controversial. At best, I’d characterize them as mildly controversial. To begin with, Guillen isn’t declaring love for Castro because of his politics or policies. Rather, he is claiming “respect” for Castro for being resilient and effectively a survivor, traits which I happen to value as well. It is obviously very difficult to consider Castro’s positive traits without such consideration being colored by his negative traits; especially in light of all the pain and suffering he has caused the Cuban people over the last sixty years, hence the reaction to the comments by the public. Nevertheless, in suspending Guillen, the Marlins seem to have given into the hyper-sensitive, “hot-headed” emotion that fuels current political discourse, instead of letting “cool-heads” guide them in how to respond to Guillen’s comments.
I understand the Marlins play in a market inhabited by many Cubans who have personally been impacted by the Castro regime, and from a public relations/business judgment standpoint, the suspension was a no brainer. My point is simply that the public in demanding such “relations” has gotten a little out of whack, so to speak. While we like to believe we value free expression, at the same time, as soon as someone toes the line of politically incorrect speech, we violently cry foul. Modern America is a time-bomb waiting to explode at the littlest hint of political incorrectness. I think our current, inherently conflicting state of “relations” hurts the credibility of both our belief in free speech, and our desire to be respectful/tolerant to others (i.e. politically correct).
I also understand that the Marlins are a private organization, and therefore it is within their rights to suspend their members for undesirable political speech. I am not trying to say that the Marlins’ response to Guillen’s comments was unconstitutional. I am simply saying Guillen’s comments focus on the positive characteristics of a controversial figure in what seems to be a genuine, though impulsive, manner, and if you know Ozzie Guillen, you know such comments are typical. Accordingly, I don’t think they warranted a five game suspension. Do you?