Marge May Be An Idiodic Scumbag, But That's No Reason To Brainwash Her.
By Jeff Smith
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Hymn sung at the completion
THAT WAS THEN and this is now. Then the shot heard 'round the world was the opening salvo of the Revolutionary War and it was fired by some anonymous farmer, if Emerson is to be believed.
Now the Schott heard 'round the world is Marge, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, and an army of revolutionaries both in and out of Baseball--but mostly out--is howling to get her fired for shooting off her mouth. What she said, in an interview on ESPN, was that Adolph Hitler started off well as German chancellor, building new highways and factories, but then went "berserk."
"Everybody knows he was good at the beginning, but he just went too far," Marge said.
Well everybody doesn't know that--indeed, most everybody knows something quite different--and considerable numbers believe everybody has an almost statutory responsibility to know, believe and express the opposite of Marge Schott's impromptu remarks. Except the berserk part.
The ironies attendant upon this latter-day skirmish of small proportions but worldwide reverberations are too many and juicy to pass up. Note the date of the first quotation:
Independence Day. And at an event commemorating our nation's war of independence. And why did our ancestors take up arms to win their independence? What freedoms were they fighting for?
Well, first of these, if the framers of the Declaration thereof, and the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are to be believed, was freedom of speech. Americans believed then, and some of us still believe, that a person was born with the God-given and inalienable birthright to speak one's mind...no matter how dim a bulb illumined that mind. Americans said then, and some still do, that while they might not agree with what another American said, they would fight to the death his right to say it.
Which is why I characterize as revolutionary the factions within our society that are screaming to pillory, punish, suspend, buy-out or fire Marge Schott for saying those dumb things she told a TV reporter about Adolph Hitler. And dumb they were--breath-takingly ignorant, insensitive and offensive. Make no mistake about it.
The Anti-Defamation League and The Arizona Daily Star, among others, no longer will defend to the death the right of anyone they disagree with to say disagreeable things. I cannot speak for the ADL, but as an alumnus of the Star's editorial board, and tireless student of its meanderings, I can assure you with certainty that the Star will defend to slight discomfort the limited expression of mild demurrer, as long as it's basically nice.
To counterbalance this obvious timidity in defensive strategy, and scotch any loose talk that the paper's editorial writers are a bunch of wussies the Star goes on the offensive like a regular wolverine in behalf of Bambi and Thumper and all--or at least most--things of a certifiably nice, gentle, cuddly and politically correct profile. And against anything or anyone perceived to threaten its warm, fuzzy friends. This is known in editorial and other circles as shooting fish in a barrel.
It does indeed constitute a second American revolution, when significant voices within the political and cultural community begin demanding that free speech be curtailed in favor of sweet consensus. That an individual's rights unrelated to whatever offensive thought she may have given tongue to, be proscribed until she hollers "uncle" and gets her mind right.
But that's precisely what the Star demanded in its editorial columns a week ago, and what the ADL and the American Jewish Congress called for earlier. Let me read you that last paragraph of the Star editorial:
"Whatever admiration Schott harbors for Hitler, she ought to keep it to herself. It is impossible to ignore her because she does too much harm. The National League and the baseball commissioner need to get tough with her again. Slap on sanctions and this time, force some education into her head."
The "this time" in the last sentence alludes to a 1993 episode in which Schott was suspended from professional baseball for making racist remarks, and forced to undergo sensitivity training. Sensitivity training: Now there's a nice, gentle, politically correct therapeutic regimen. "This time" the Star demands more: Brainwash her, like the North Koreans did our pilots in 1952. Shut her up, like the robber baron capitalists, with federal help, tried to do to the union organizers in the teens and '20s.
"Slap on sanctions..." for what?
For being ignorant and dumb? Last we looked there was no law against this. For speaking her feeble mind?
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