ESPN Fired Curt Schilling for His Message and I Support That Decision

Posted on May 4, 2016 in Public Policy, Sexuality by

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 03:  Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling #38 sits with his wife, Shonda Schilling, while being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins during the game on August 3, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 03: Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling #38 sits with his wife, Shonda Schilling, while being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins during the game on August 3, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

ESPN has dared to fire analyst Curt Schilling for his comments regarding transgender people using the women’s bathroom. You might not want to hear this but I agree with ESPN.

Yes, you read that right. I agree with ESPN’s decision to fire Curt Schilling. ESPN said that they fired Schilling because he did not represent the “inclusive company” that ESPN wanted to be. Schilling said that biological men should use the men’s bathroom and not be permitted in the women’s bathroom. That was enough for ESPN to fire Schilling and I think they should have every right to do so.

Let’s look at facts. ESPN is a company that has the freedom to decide what messages they want to align themselves with and what messages they want to reject. As a company, ESPN decided that they did not want to align with the message shared by Curt Schilling and decided to remove him. While some might say that Schilling’s right of free speech was violated – and I would agree, we also have to remember that ESPN has the right, as a company, to determine what messages they do and do no want to associate with.

Thinking through this issue I found myself agreeing with Ryan T. Anderson when he wrote a response to the ESPN/Schilling fiasco:

“The bigger issue is that ESPN, like any other company, has a right to control its message, which means it should be generally free to make employment decisions based on its values, not Curt Schilling’s, and certainly not the government’s.”

Anderson went on to make a valid point that must be addressed:

“The same is true for religious institutions, only more so. While ESPN is committed to being ‘inclusive,’ it’s a large corporation whose main focus is reporting sports in ways that make money. Religious institutions and some family businesses, on the other hand, have more robust substantive commitments driven by faith, not profits alone…ESPN didn’t want to be associated with Curt Schilling’s message. The same is true for the bakers, florists, and photographers, only more so. They have beliefs about marriage—that it’s the union of husband and wife—and they don’t want to be forced by the government to convey a contrary message.”

You see; ESPN is exercising their right to control the messages that they will associate with. They can accept and reject ideas based on their values. And yet somehow, when a baker, florist, photographer, or other persons seeks to exercise the same right, they are sued and forced by government coercion to violate their values. Double standard?

What remains absolutely undeniable is that ESPN has a right to determine their values as a company, and to require everyone that works for them to support those values. As a company, the owners can determine what messages they want to associate with, and then associate with those messages; while rejecting opposing messages. ESPN has proven that these are undeniable facts by firing Curt Schilling without retribution. (Let’s not forget that ESPN has also fired Craig James for a similar reason.)

Because these are undeniable facts we must conclude that it is not a matter of freedom to establish values or associate with messages that is the issue. The issue then must be nothing less than the values and messages themselves. In other words, only certain values and messages afford a company or person the freedom to fire another person or refuse service. So the question then becomes, “who determines what values or messages carry the right to fire someone or refuse service?”

The answer to that question seems clearer each day. As we see the florist, photographer, and baker (among others) get sued by local and federal governments for adhering to their values, it seems that only government approved values and messages will be approved. The baker can’t refuse to provide his service for a homosexual wedding, and thereby associate with the message that homosexual “marriage” is acceptable. And Curt Schilling can’t voice his belief that people should use the bathroom corresponding with their biological gender. But ESPN CAN support their message of support for transgender people by firing Curt Schilling for adhering to an opposing message. Are you getting the picture?

The double standard here is that ESPN has been allowed to trample one person’s free speech in order to control the values and messaging of their organization. But, other people are not allowed to control the values and messaging of their organizations – a bakery, flower shop, and photography studio – by refusing to associate with messages that oppose their values. So why is ESPN allowed to do what others are not? Simply put, the message of ESPN falls in line with the message the government wants to convey.

But not everyone is agreeing with the message that bathrooms should have no gender restrictions. Kaeley Trigger, a victim of sexual abuse went public with her story and her belief that bathrooms and locker rooms need gender limits to protect people. She said:

“A lot of the people across the country feel the same way. This has nothing to do with transgenderism. It has everything to do with policies that are really bad and written on subjective terms…I was sexually abused for 10 years of my life. I had to work really, really hard to overcome some of the damage that that caused, just in my ability to function normally or to see things clearly. I knew this would affect a lot of women the same way it affected me…The possibility of being in a locker room situation, in particular, and showering, which is already a vulnerable spot, and you turn around and you’re confronted with the male anatomy, that’s a trigger. That’s a legitimate trigger for quite a few victims of sexual trauma.”

Her point is more valid than any made advocates of bathroom bills. The idea that anyone would find it acceptable to allow men and women to use the same bathroom and locker room is beyond reasonable explanation. The very real and present danger awaiting children and women from such policies is clear. My question is simply, “how many girls and/or women have to be assaulted before this is no longer a good idea?”

The reality is that women and children will be in danger. Already stories of men filming women and following kids into the bathroom are making news. How many more do we need to read? If your daughter were assaulted would it change your mind?

Hey, the fact remains that I support ESPN’s right to fire Curt Schilling. But it’s because I support the right of people to live and do business according to their sincerely held values and beliefs. No one should be forced to violate their conscience. Once again I agree with Ryan T. Anderson when he wrote:

“Whether we agree or disagree with the bakers, florists, and photographers isn’t at issue here. At issue is their beliefs and the messages they send. Taking photographs of a gay wedding ceremony and then creating a visually appealing slide-show and photo album, or arranging altar flowers for same-sex nuptials, or decorating a cake with rainbow frosting and two grooms on top all convey messages these professionals say they can’t send. And yet, while liberals are cheering ESPN and celebrating its freedoms, they are working to pass laws that would eliminate similar freedoms for religious institutions and wedding professionals. While they celebrate ESPN’s rights, they want to deny similar rights to others.”

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