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Old 10-30-2009, 06:40 AM   #1
Anthony
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Thumbs down KC's Larry Johnson Finding Out That Free Speech Isn't Free

An NFL player has come to torment via Twitter - and it isn't Chad Ochocinco.

Apparently Chiefs running back Larry Johnson posted a criticism of head coach Todd Haley on Twitter - and when some keyboard warrior called him out on it, Johnson let the latter have it with a three-lettered expletive formally denoting male homosexuals, but more commonly used to denote a man lacking courage, "manliness," etc.

One thing led to another, and Johnson has drawn a two-game suspension from the team under the catch-all grounds of "conduct detrimental to the club."

What good is free speech if you're going to receive harsh sanctions for exercising it? Isn't it rather like receiving a check for a million dollars with the signature thoughtfully omitted?

Of course we've been down this muddy road before - in 1993, when New York Mets right fielder/first baseman Bobby Bonilla directed the same epithet at New York Daily News sportswriter Bob Klapisch (who had co-written a most unflattering book about the previous season's Mets team that winter); and outside the sports world, but also in the Big Apple, in 1971, when renowned weather reporter Tex Antoine, aka "Uncle Wethby," was fired by WABC-TV for making an off-color joke related to rape during a spell of spectacularly heavy rain in New York (Antoine never worked in the industry again, and was found dead in his Manhattan apartment some years later, of an overdose of alcohol and sedatives in just the right amounts to make classification of the death as either accident or suicide problematic).

With two wars to fight abroad, and a near-civil war over health-care reform at home, can't we find better things to expend our psychic energy on?

Apparently not.
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:51 AM   #2
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Dude, you know as well as anyone you cannot say negative things in a public forum about your employer and/or boss and not expect to get punished for it.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
What good is free speech if you're going to receive harsh sanctions for exercising it? Isn't it rather like receiving a check for a million dollars with the signature thoughtfully omitted?
There's a difference between free speech and hate speech. His comments were derogatory and hateful to gays and he deserved the punishment. His employer is within their rights to discipline, or fire, him because he has a duty to represent them in a certain way.

Johnson is a washed-up problem child who needs to go. He sucks!
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:08 PM   #4
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Marc, do you honestly believe that men who have an innate sexual preference for other men were even remotely on Larry Johnson's mind when he uttered that epithet? It's not as if he used it in response to a question from a reporter about whether he would accept an openly gay teammate, as was the case with Garrison Hearst a while back.

And as I see it, the Chiefs front office is fair game for not going after a proven commodity like Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan after they canned Herm Edwards. When you've been 6-26 over the two most recent seasons (as they had been in 2007-08), nothing short of instant credibility is what you need (in 1932, when the country was in the throes of the Great Depression, who did we turn to - Franklin D. Roosevelt, or the mayor of Santa Claus, Indiana?).

And LOL @ the sensitivity over gay people's feelings in that market when both Missouri and Kansas treated consensual homosexual acts as a felony right up until the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision invalidated such laws. So I'd say that someone who uses "hate speech" like that fits in with prevailing local cultural standards all too well.

If Johnson were playing for the 49ers (as Hearst in fact did), this scenario would have played out differently; and ironically, with the 49ers ranking dead last in the league in converting on third-and-fourth down and less than two yards, a big, bruising back like Johnson would fill a very real need - and needless to say, I'd be dancing in the streets if the Eagles obtained him (and as a Penn State alumnus, he'd have a ton of local appeal; and how could the Eagles' front office cite "character issues" for avoiding him when they took in Michael Vick, without coming across as the rankest sort of hypocrites?).

Last edited by Anthony; 10-31-2009 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:09 PM   #5
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But did Chiefs suspend Johnson over the slur or the fact he called his head coach a coward on Twitter?

I think the league is looking into the slur thing but I get the sense the Chiefs suspended him for the disparaging comments about his coach.
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Old 11-01-2009, 02:33 AM   #6
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If you ask me, they want to have it both ways.
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