Guillen faces controversy over Castro remarks


From 1959 to 1976, Fidel Castro was the prime minister of the Communist government in Cuba. From 1976 to 2008, he was president of the Council of the State of Cuba.

In 2011, at 83 years old, he stepped down from the last position he held — leader of Cuba’s Communist Party.

His detractors call him a dictator. People who have lived in Cuba for any significant amount of time under Castro feel no love for him.

Many Cubans have sought to escape from Castro’s harsh regime by immigrating to the United States.

Thus, people reacted negatively to Ozzie Guillen’s apparent support of Fidel Castro when he expressed his admiration of Cuba’s former leader.

Guillen, manager of the Miami Marlins, later apologized, saying that the message he intended to convey was not the message that came across. He wanted to remark on how long Castro has been around, despite many people not liking him — many of whom have wanted him dead. Private disagreement with one man’s opinion is the right every American citizen has.

Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, said, “Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game.”

Shortly after this, the Miami Marlins suspended Guillen for five games. But for what was he suspended? Ozzie Guillen only exercised his freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution.
He said what was on his mind, and though people might have had a problem with his remarks, he should have every right to say what is on his mind.

Courts have even upheld the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to engage in hate speech because it is its constitutional right to do so.

However, it seems the Miami Marlins as an organization, as well as many people involved in the game of baseball, disagree.

Jim Bowden, a former general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, blogged on epsn.com, and said “if I was sitting in the GM’s chair, my initial reaction would have been to give him the opportunity to resign before terminating him.”

Bowden draws a parallel to Marge Schott, the owner of the Reds during Bowden’s tenure as GM, making negative comments about African- Americans as well as talking about Adolf Hitler. I can well understand how an organization might not want to associate itself with someone who expresses discriminatory viewpoints, but Guillen did not do so.

In fact, the worst that can be said about Guillen’s remarks is that he ignored the pain and suffering many citizens of Cuba have had to endure under Castro’s dictatorship. If a manager of a team declared his support for Mitt Romney or President Obama, would that manager be treated in the same way just because we do not like the person he is supporting?

Bud Selig, the Miami Marlins, and everyone who thinks that Guillen was not penalized enough, has missed the point entirely.

If employment at any organization is contingent upon expressing only the views which the organization agrees with, than an individual’s right of free speech is taken away.

That right is written into the Constitution so that people can express unpopular opinions, ones which the speaker may feel needs to be said. If Ozzie Guillen is not free to express what he is thinking, we as a society have invalidated the Constitution.

Doing so makes American leaders just as hypocritical as Fidel Castro.


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