I like Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. He’s an old school manager a la Billy Martin — hard-drinking, profane with a high baseball IQ. Politically, he’s not what you’d call bright.
The fracas started over the weekend, when Time magazine published an interview on its website in which the Marlins skipper said he “loved” Castro. “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here.”
I’d argue that Ozzie wasn’t praising Castro’s policies, just his tenacity (of course it’s easy to be tenacious when you’re a brutal dictator). If I ran the world I wouldn’t fire Guillen because I think intent matters when it comes to controversies like these.
Unfortunately, most people disagree. Particularly, Miami’s Cuban community, many of whom live in Little Havana, site of the Marlins’ shiny new ballpark. They aren’t forgiving of Castro’s useful idiots, and with good reason.
They also make up a significant portion of the Marlins fan base. The team will pay dearly for Guillen’s remarks.
Imagine if you said something that alienated a large part of your company’s clientele. Would you keep your job?
It’s not a First Amendment issue — Guillen has the right to say whatever he wants. And businesses have the right to fire people who fuck with their bottom line.
It’s an imperfect reality, but consider the alternative. In Cuba Guillen would be exiled, tortured — maybe even killed.
Words matter, sometimes more than they should.