Free? Make sure to read the fine print

Jordan Harirchi

By: Jordan Harirchi, Assistant Sports Editor

In light of Ozzie Guillen’s five-game suspension for pro-Fidel Castro remarks, what is an apology worth?
Hands down, Guillen’s attempt to further the fiery, over-the-top persona he’s built over the years was probably his stupidest. The flames emanating from his character must have consumed his common sense.
Who the hell would utter words of praise aimed at the former Cuban dictator as manager of the club in the Cuban capital of the U.S.?
Guillen later apologized and said he was misinterpreted and clarified his statement. His clarification was basically a retraction of his original comments.
This isn’t the first time he’s praised a dictator and later criticized that dictator. Is his apology the second time around even sincere? Was his first?
The biggest question is, why should he apologize for his opinion?
Sports and supposed blunders are not strangers to each other. Even UNF has had its share of apparently bad decisions, which were later retracted.
The swimming and diving team was cut March 2010 and then brought back a mere three weeks later. The team was cut because facilities for the team were not up-to-date and the sport wasn’t, and still isn’t, included in Atlantic Sun competition.
The team was then brought back on after complaints citing that the move was a violation of Title IX, the federal law that requires schools to offer equal athletic opportunities and amenities to men and women. I interviewed John Delany, president of UNF, last semester and he said, after reviewing the incident with a lawyer, the school was not violating Title IX.
So, why not stick to the initial plan instead of a full-blown turnaround?
While the two incidents are not similar in that one deals with opinion and the other deals with the law, the two are similar in certain respects. Decisions are made, consequences follow and some parties are happy and others are, well, in this instance, unhappy Cuban-Americans.
Delaney told me in the same interview he didn’t want the school to have a Title IX issue looming over it, which is absolutely reasonable. Title IX is not a matter of opinion but rather an issue of abiding by the law. But Guillen hasn’t broken any law.
Guillen might have apologized and retracted his love for Castro, but it doesn’t change the opinion that resides in his mind. His sharing of that opinion and any other will be restricted and bear negative consequences if stated — five games without pay worth of negative consequences.
It just shows you that speech isn’t entirely free. The receipt reading $0.00 has fine print at the bottom, stating:
Be prepared to pay heavily if your speech offends the majority of the population.

Email Jordan Harirchi at [email protected].