Freedom Ain’t Free

I haven’t written anything about the Haiti tragedy. Paul Shirley certainly has. Shirley, a former NBAer who now freelance writes, had a lot to say about Haiti and the efforts to rebuild it in “If you Rebuild It, They Will Come” on the Flip Collective website.

There he said things like:

“I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads ‘Need You’re Help’ is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.”

And the letter within the article he wrote to the people says says:

Dear Haitians –

First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?

Sincerely,

The Rest of the World

And this:

“But, ultimately, the people in a country have control over their government. One could argue that in totalitarian regimes, they do not have much control, but in the end, it is their government. And therefore, their responsibility. If the government is not doing enough for the people, it is the people’s responsibility to change the government. Not the other way around.”

Since Shirley used his freedom of speech to voice an opinion that isn’t shared by most (at least they’re not saying it for the world to read) he’s lost his part-time freelance gig at ESPN. The network said, “The views [Shirley] expressed on another site of course do not at all reflect our company’s views on the Haiti relief efforts. He will no longer contribute to ESPN.”

As you might expect the conversation concerning this matter now is whether or not Shirley should have been fired from ESPN. But here are a few of the things I know for sure:

1. Freedom affords everyone the right to say what they think and feel. With this comes responsibility. Freedom in any form has never been free.
2. While there are some people who are employed by ESPN who have a heart, I doubt seriously that Shirley was fired because his words were egregious. It’s all about money–sponsorships and endorsements.
3. Even the writer’s words were objectively true, we’re called to do more than simply tell the truth; we’re called to speak the truth in love. Truth without love can be abusive; love without truth is weak.
4. Although it was the first independent black nation, Haiti has been oppressed and exploited since its “deliverance” by other countries and a government that’s systemically toxic.
5. There are a lot of colons and semi-colons in this post. I didn’t intend for that to happen.

What do you think?

Click here to read Mumia Abu Jamal’s thoughts about Haiti in “Haiti on Our Minds.”

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~ by MsInklination on January 28, 2010.

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