Curt Schilling and ESPN’s Hypocrisy

Curt Schilling in 2013 (Hunter Martin/Getty)

Curt Schilling tells blunt and uncomfortable truths, so there is no place for him in progressive corporate America. Last summer, ESPN suspended him for a personal Facebook post that rightly compared Muslim extremists to Nazis and rightly noted that even a minority of extremists can cause catastrophic conflict. But in the world of progressive corporate politics, the truth is “Islamophobic” and must be punished.

Yesterday, ESPN fired Schilling. His offense? Posting a crude meme on his personal Facebook page that took direct aim at allowing men access to women’s restrooms. He also wrote, “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

The image is unflattering (to say the least), but the idea that mixed-gender bathrooms pose no inherent risks is delusional. Moreover, the view that men become women through a combination of surgery and desire is itself extremist and biologically bizarre.

Thus, when Curt Schilling said a “man is a man no matter what they call themselves,” he was simply telling the truth. But in the world of progressive corporate politics, the truth is “transphobic” and must be punished.

ESPN is openly progressive, celebrating every advance of the sexual revolution, and it has been wildly inconsistent in its discipline for on-air statements. The network stood by an employee who guffawed as Mike Tyson graphically described a black man raping Sarah Palin. in an interview. They failed to discipline another employee who compared Tea Party members to ISIS. They issued only a brief suspension to Stephen A. Smith when he argued that women can “provoke” their own beatings. Critically, each of those incidents occurred on the job and not on personal Facebook postings.

In other circumstances, ESPN expressed “regret” when an NBA analyst called homosexuality an “open rebellion to God” and issued a brief and mysterious “Twitter suspension” when a baseball writer engaged in a tweeted argument in favor of evolution. (The network denied the suspension had anything to do with his views.)

#share#In other words, ESPN doesn’t have any standard operating procedure for dealing with controversy. But in this case, they were all too happy to appease the leftist internet mob. So what if a man loses his job as long as the Huffington Post is happy?

ESPN has far greater problems than an unruly conservative’s social-media postings. The progressive geniuses that run the network are busy laying off hundreds of employees after failing to properly anticipate the decline in cable-subscriber fees as cord-cutters abandon cable companies in favor of online streaming services.

ESPN needs its viewers now more than ever. Tens of millions of them happen to share Curt Schilling’s values, and they resent being told that their views are “unacceptable.” The channel is destroying brand loyalty and holds on to its audience only by expending billions on sports broadcast rights — often leaving viewers with a choice of watching ESPN or skipping live sports entirely. This reality is too expensive to sustain in the long run. And no one should shed a tear when the network pays the price.

In the short term, though, a man has lost his job for daring to speak an opinion the Left deems unacceptable. Progressive America is sending a message. In the institutions it controls, there is no distinction between the personal and professional. Keep dissent to yourself. All your words belong to your boss.

— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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