ESPN pulled former baseball pitching star Curt Schilling from its Little League broadcast team yesterday after becoming aware of his tweet above, saying in a statement:
“Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.”
Schilling then tweeted this apology: “I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.” This appears to be a #1 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale...“An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.”
If I had delivered it, however, it might have been a #7: “A forced or compelled version of 1-4, in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent.”
What was it exactly that Schilling’s tweet showed, implied, suggested or stated that was” completely unacceptable, in no way represent ESPN’s perspective, and that justified his employer’s action? Curt Schilling is an inquisitive, politically active and opinionated man, and has always annoyed sportswriters because 1) he’s openly conservative 2) he’s a devout Christian, and isn’t shy about talking about it, 3) he can write and speak coherently and was capable, while playing, of challenging their criticism, and 4) he’s a lot smarter than most of them. I am assuming in this inquiry that nothing in Schilling’s contract or agreement with ESPN restricted his right to express non-sports opinions on his own time.
Here are some possibilities:
A. ESPN thinks his statistics are wrong and misleading.
Verdict: Ridiculous. None of their business, and if the statistics he cited are controversial or dubious, so what? His point was that small minorities of both the German population in Nazi Germany [ Aside: My father would have challenged that assumption as a by-product of the fact that, as he used to say, “There were no Nazis in Germany after we beat them! Every German says it was those other people who were the problem, and they they hated Nazis. Isn’t that amazing?]” and current Islam were dangerous, radical extremists. Are WWII combat veterans at ESPN offended at the German statistic, as my father would be? I doubt that. Do they think there are more radical Muslims? Fewer? Again, so what?
B. ESPN challenges the comparison between radical Islam and Nazis.
Verdict: If so, ESPN is wrong. I could make an argument that ISIS is worse than the Nazis, but OK, let’s say its a bit of a hyperbole. So what? It sure isn’t that far off.
C. It’s an insult to Muslims.
Verdict: But it’s not. It’s a fair and accurate point regarding radical Muslims. If anything, the statistic defends Muslims.
D. It’s political.
Verdict: If that’s what makes the tweet unacceptable, ESPN is unfair. Was Schilling previously told that he had to avoid tweeting his political views while working for ESPN? If not, he was well within his rights, and his opinion, while flamboyantly expressed, was objectively inoffensive.
E. It’s political and implicitly critical of the Obama policy regarding radical Islam.
Verdict: Also unfair. First, ESPN is suspending employees for implied political opinions now? Second, criticizing national policy is every American’s right, and Schilling’s implied point is responsible and does not embarrass ESPN in any legitimate way.
F. ESPN wanted to make an example of Schilling to warn employees not to focus attention on the network regarding non sports matters.
Verdict: If this is it, the punishment was too harsh. A warning and a memo to the staff would have been appropriate.
G. Schilling was broadcasting the Little League World Series, and should not have associated himself with images of Hitler and discussions of terrorism while employed in covering children.
Verdict: “Think of the children”? This might be it, though it doesn’t explain what in the tweet opposes ESPNs “perspective.”
H. The tweet is politically incorrect.
Verdict: If this is it, ESPN is run by morons. What is politically incorrect about making legitimate historical comparisons? Pointing out that most Muslims are not terrorists? Reminding Germans that their country started WWII and engages in genocide? This may be a Niggardly Principles episode, in which the tweet seems to be critical of Muslims if you don’t read it carefully or are mentally deficient. Writes Dylan Gwinn:
“There is nothing factually inaccurate with the message of the tweet. It in no way compares “Muslims” to Nazis. It compares the number of Muslim “extremists” to the number of German extremists, with the point being that whether you accept the math or not, extremists need not have a numerical majority in any one country or religion in order to take control, and create catastrophic results for the rest of the world.Which, is absolutely true.”
But then, when did a statement being true every stop political correctness bullies from muzzling those who attempt to communicate it?ESPN has not suspended or punished Chris Carter, in contrast, for his speech advising NFL rookies how best to break the law. So I suppose this episode tells us what ESPN finds more or less acceptable.
Good to know, ESPN!
My best guess is that the reasons for ESPN’s action lie somewhere in alternatives E through H, which means that Schilling has been treated unfairly. Does anyone have a better explanation?