The other day, I was trading emails with my pal Chris Dunn about the ESPN broadcast of a baseball game. I had mentioned that I was a little surprised that he was back doing commentary during games, after being dropped from their Sunday Night Baseball coverage following a string of ghoulish beyond-the-pale Tweets on a variety of subjects, and I noted the mixed feelings about it. I wrote that Curt Schilling is such an absolutely terrific analyst that it’s a shame he has so many social and political views that are beyond odious and reach to the heights of reprehensible. I think it's deserved that he was taken off Sunday Night Baseball, but I guess ESPN has "rehabilitated” him with periodic seasonal games.
(For those who've forgotten the details of the story, I wrote about it here., which included screen grabs from many of his Tweets. The short summary is that the problem wasn't that he couldn't have opinions or even express them, but if you're in a public position as the face of your company, then anything you choose to say that puts the company in a negative light not of its own making risks consequences.)
And then only a couple days later after mentioning this to Chris, it turned out that Mr. Schilling hadn't learned much from his suspension -- and that his apology about understanding responsibility better from now on didn't hold -- because he was back in the news with the same thing. And I wrote back to Chris that thanks to Mr. Schilling being himself, I may not have my dilemma to worry about,
It turns out that Mr. Schilling went on an over-the-top Tweet Rant about the transgender community which included material from himself and a re-tweet from another person. And it was so crass that the Huffington Post article wouldn’t quote it, but provided a link to it elsewhere. ESPN issued a statement that it was “taking this matter very seriously and we are in the process of reviewing it.”
To be clear, the issue with Curt Schilling isn’t him voicing his opinions, it’s how cruelly and intolerantly he voices them -- and not understanding the public position he's in as the face and voice of a TV network which is what pushes his employer to act. At the time I initially wrote my email, I hadn't yet read the latest rant, though I came across it later. If you have interest in seeing it, you can read the initial story about it all here, which includes a link to the original screed.)
And then yesterday, there was a terrific commentary in Salon about all this and about Curt Schilling's response. The title says it all -- "Call it Curt Schilling Syndrome: Overly sensitive man mortally offended by criticism of his own offensive comments." You can read the article here, and I recommend it. The author Mary Elizabeth Williams begins with "You know what never gets old? Middle-aged white guys telling the rest of us how we shouldn’t be offended by their offensiveness. Curt Schilling, show us how it’s done." And she ends the piece all the more pointedly -- " I don’t know about you, but I just love it when Curt Schilling gives a lecture on what our social progress priorities should be."
By the way, if Curt Schilling doesn't think there's anything wrong with what he writes about in his Tweets and Facebook postings, and thinks it's the fault of others for being offended (as he says), then why does he keep deleting so many of these rants? It would seem that if he believes that they're all fine and just a problem for others, then he should be perfectly happy leaving his words up for all to see. Yet...for some odd reason he doesn't do that. Click, oops, they're gone.
And who knows, at one point, so too will be Curt Schilling.
And in one way, it would be a shame, since he really is such a terrific baseball analyst. One of the best I've heard. And in other areas of his life, I've read some very nice stories about him. It's just that in one large, very public part of his life, there is this gallingly nasty streak that is tone-deaf, as well as clueless to his responsibility to his employer.
And nothing evidences that more than the time not long after the initial controversy broke about his rants on Facebook, but before he was taken off Sunday Night Baseball. The announcers in the broadcast booth were talking about a then-current story of a ballplayer who had a meltdown that resulted in taking out his frustration on a poor, defenseless Gatorade cooler, and all the really funny responses it got on Twitter. At which point Curt Schilling chimed in -- about as cluelessly as one could imagine -- something like, “That’s the thing about Twitter, it really reveals who you are, and there are some really funny people.”
You could only sit there and stare at the TV. Whether intentional or otherwise, he phrased it so…cluelessly. “It really reveals who you are.” As I wrote at the time, "Seriously guy?? From the person who used Facebook to basically call Hillary Clinton a murderer, compare Islamic extremists to Nazis, and defend the Confederate flag as representing Christ's fight for liberty? Really??"
Yes, I guess. Really.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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