Fun Fact: Both Tim Thomas and Ted Nugent were born in eastern Michigan. Must be something in Lake Michigan.
Anyway, I guess at some point I had to address Tim Thomas' recent political statements, considering that whenever someone talks to me about the President, they refer to him as "YA BOY, Barack Obama".
(And he IS ma boy, so step to the right, haters. Well, further to the right, if that's possible at this point.)
Now, Thomas' statements are ridiculous. But the proper response to Thomas' dumb statements is to explain why it's dumb (here, I'll start: the birth control "mandate" is not at all about religious freedom- indeed, the Catholic Bishops' position represents an infringement of the religious freedom of employees of Catholic employers, who may not hold the same religious views as the bishops. And the "FIRST THEY CAME!" speech is so cliched, I'm actually asleep right now just from typing the first three words of it). The proper response is NOT to act as if Thomas shouldn't have spoken up at all; indeed, it's better that he DID speak up so that I can keep calling him dumb.
NHL pundits are doing just that, though, trying to silence of dismiss Thomas' statements as not even worth discussing (And yet, they let notorious thought criminal Don Cherry still run free). This isn't just the wrong tactic; it's also pretty weird in the world of sports. Aren't we used to athletes and such saying conservative, or at least libertarian things? When Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa went to some dumb Glen Beck rally, we heard some cosmopolitan Cardinal fans wring their hands (most notably Idol of the Blog Will Leitch), but for the most part, it passed without comment. When Rush Limbaugh sat in the Patriots' owner's box for the Super Bowl, the most anyone said was booger jokes.
I don't quite know why the NHL punditocracy is reacting differently (my guess is it's because NHL pundits are a little more liberal, since they all live in Canadien or northern U.S. cities are are pretty used to covering a lot of international players), but it's unfortunate. It's actually got a parallel with how the NFL pundit class is treating Giselle right now. In both cases, we've got someone with fame/expertise in one field opining about another. And maybe their opinions are misguided and ill-informed, but no one's really explaining what they're getting wrong, they're all just saying, "LOL, STFU Giselle/Thomas". At this point, the biggest difference is probably that Giselle's never eaten a cheeseburger.
Listen, I know being a progressive sports fan is hard. The big name players are all rich, too many of them are religious, the even-richer owners hold way too many of the cards, the system rewards selfishness way too much, war imagery and rhetoric is far too prevalent, etc. But I think any list of progressive "First Principles" would include a broad view of freedom of speech. And that means that the solution to dumb speech is MORE speech.
In other words, if you, like me, don't like what Thomas said, you need to engage on the issue, not just act like he shouldn't have spoken up. It's harder, but hey, that just means it's more worth it.