#35 - John Rocker versus Elian Gonzalez
In recent weeks, the news has been covering relating to the United States and freedom. We have had John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves express his opinion of certain people in New York City, and numerous protests to his statement. We have also had Elian Gonzalez from Cuba arrive in the United States after his mother died while trying to get here, and the question where does he belong, in the United States with his relatives or in Cuba with his father, and numerous protests about him being sent back to Cuba.
John Rocker spoke with a reporter from Sports Illustrated (both work for Time-Warner) about why he would not want to play for a New York City team. During the end of the season and in the play-offs, he was subjected to verbal abuse by the New York City (Yankees and Mets) fans and even had objects thrown at him. John stated he would not be conformable sitting by a variety of people on the subway. He used some insulting names for some of them and went on and used some insulting names on some other groups and individuals. Numerous people have protested John's remarks and demanded that he be fired. Baseball has sent him to a psychiatrist.
Elian Gonzalez was brought to the United States by his mother fleeing Cuba. Unfortunately along the way she and her husband drowned. Relatives of Elian Gonzalez have taken him in the United States and do not want him returned to the Cuba because of communism and no freedom there. His father, in Cuba, wants Elian Gonzalez returned to him. Numerous people have protested and demanded Elian Gonzalez be allowed to stay in the United States where he will be free.
Now what have the two got in common? A lot.
John was under the impression that he was free to speak in the United States hi s opinion. He reacted to what happened in New York City. Although I may not agree with all his comments, I believe he is entitled to speak them. The first amendment to the United States Constitution states "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech." Yes that does apply to Congress and not to Major League Baseball, but one of the prides of this country has been "Freedom of Speech". We may not agree with John's remarks, but in my opinion he is entitled to say them. The Civil Rights movement in the 50s and the 60s used the same freedom to take stands that many then did not agree with. The anti-war protestors in the 60s and 70s were protected the same way. Consider Jesse Jackson made a comment a few years ago about feeling unsafe when followed on an empty street by a black, but not when followed by a white. I did not see protests for PUSH to fire him. Last fall Jesse Ventura made insulting comments about organized religion, but where were the protests for his resignation?
Baseball's solution so far has been to send John to a psychiatrist. That way we can straighten out the problems causing him not to speak Politically Correct. Others want him fired and banished from baseball. Now pause and think. If this were happening in Cuba what would our responses be? We would condemn them for trying to re-educate (the communist word) John by psychiatric treatment and by them not allowing "freedom of speech".
So will Elian Gonzalez be better off in the United States? Not apparently by the observing the Rocker case. Re-education and limited freedom occurs in both countries. We need to become more tolerant of others. We need to allow ALL to express their opinions, except hen they are threatening direct physical harm. Politically Correct means only that you are stating the proper thing for the age. Those who advocated slavery in the United States in the early 19th century were Politically Correct in the South at that time, but they were morally wrong. In my opinion Elian Gonzalez needs to be returned to his father. However since he is already here, give his father an option to move to the United States. In any event lets continue to work for a a freely elected government in Cuba that allows their people freedom of speech, religion, to assemble, etc. Lets continue to make sure we have these rights in the United States. As we are observing now, in Waco in 1993 things did not go the way the government has claimed. Those who complained were labeled "Right wing nuts" or part of the "Right wing conspiracy". Should we have not allowed them to speak differently than Janet Reno? The truth will set you free.
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