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Guillen's constitutional crime

BY SAMUEL CLEARY | APRIL 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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It's been nearly a week, and flat-screens across campus (and the nation) are still abuzz with debate over the suspension of Miami Marlin manager Ozzie Guillen, who recently made pro-Fidel Castro remarks in an interview with Time magazine.

"I love Fidel Castro … I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherf*****r is still here," Guillen said.

Despite the obvious lack of sensitivity on behalf of the Marlin manager, all of the chatter about firing a man who merely (though stupidly) spoke his mind seems a little ironic.

Guillen came to the United States from Venezuela, a country long wrought with political and social strife, and it wasn't until 2006 that he became a naturalized citizen. And now, years after leaving the nation of his birth, he's being attacked for exercising the very freedoms he came to this country to enjoy.

Seems a little bit ridiculous, doesn't it?

I mean, sure, the guy's got a professional obligation to maintain some level of decency, and given the fact that he's a Latino manager of a baseball team in a city with one the greatest Cuban population in the United States, you'd think he'd have a bit more of a filter. So being peeved, offended, or even angered by Guillen's remarks is natural, but recent discussions about firing the former White Sox manager are a bit much.

Guillen's crime is being a hothead and a loudmouth — he's been in this hot seat before.

In 2006, he was an item of national attention after calling Chicago Sun-Times sports reporter Jay Moriatti a "f*g;" He's also been criticized for vocally supporting Hugo Chavez. But despite the unwelcome rhetoric of Guillen's obviously un-American sociopolitical viewpoints, the guy's also more American than most, in one sense: He speaks his mind, or, in other words, he exercises his First Amendment right.

Guillen might be brash and insensitive, but he's at the very least an informed and politically passionate character — which is more than can be said for the majority of athletes and coaches at the professional level.

And besides, isn't Guillen's hotheadedness the very thing that makes him so entertaining?

"This is the entertainment business. Opinions feed this beast," Skip Bayless explained in his recent "First Take" bout with Jalen Rose.

Guillen is a personality. It just so happens that he might be in the wrong city to be making the comments that he did.

The Marlin administration and the Cuban community as a whole should be upset. But a five-game suspension? Come on. Granted, this isn't a player — inappropriate behavior warrants consequences, but Guillen merely made a positively connotative reference to a controversial political figure.

I think this goes beyond a general emotional support of an ethnic community. Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that the Marlin administration is acting out of responsibility to its primarily Cuban fan base.

If Guillen had criticized Obama or raved about Bush, there would have been little kickback; but because of his admiration for a political figure who stood for everything anti-American, he's somehow being taken as a fool and an animal.

He isn't Paterno, he isn't DJK, and he isn't Petrino. It's about time ESPN finds something else to talk about for nine hours a day.


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