Paul Shirley … dumped.


So I thought Paul Shirley’s essay on Haiti was really, really, really, really stupid. But do I think ESPN should have dumped him as a contributor, as it did? No.

If I haven’t said this before, ESPN gives me the creeps. I’m a liberal guy who cringes at hate words. But there is no greater politically correct-influenced company than the ol’ world-owning sports network. Heaven forbid you work at ESPN and say something even remotely inflammatory; or hold an opinion that doesn’t coincide with the network’s sanctioned beliefs. Well, you’re dead. However, as Mike Freeman’s book showed us, you can be a complete skirt-chasing dog and do quite well. Thrive, in fact.

Here, in a nutshell is how a value-deprived corporation like ESPN works when it comes to stuff like this …

Step 1: An employee says something perceived to be offensive.

Step 2: Public uproar.

Step 3: Network big guns ask, “How will this impact our advertisers?”

Step 4: It is determined advertisers might not be happy.

Step 5: ESPN fires said offender, claiming he violated some sort of company principle. Of course, the company principle is quite simple—make money. And more money. And more money.

Over the past few years, nobody has damaged the journalistic ideals more than ESPN. It has merged entertainment and reporting into one big blob of goo (think Barry Bonds’ short-lived reality show), and will willingly go after sports operations … as long as they have no advertising/financial connection to the network (the NFL hated Playmakers. Playmakers vanished.)

I don’t hurt for Paul Shirley, because he’s a dolt. But this ain’t right.

5 thoughts on “Paul Shirley … dumped.”

  1. I disagreed with most of what Shirley said. Yet, I fell that he does have the right to say what is on his mind. However, I believe that ESPN has the right to fire him if they disagree with what he said. Free should not preceed the word speech; the concept does not exist. No matter what a human being might say, someone…somewhere will disagree with it. Depending on what you say will determine if you a) start a argument, b) get your a$$ kicked, c) get arrested, or d) go to jail. We all have the right to say what we want, but we also have the right to disagree as well. So how can you have true free speech? For those of you who think it can exist please point out Utopia for me on a globe, and tell me which zoo has an the pink unicorn on display.

  2. The right to free speech does not mean the right to a job.



    Giveth unto me a break.

  3. Jeff,
    The only difference between ESPN and any other large corporation is that ESPN’s employees are generally better known. Believe me, if I had written that screed, and if my employer had been known, I would’ve gotten fired. No question in my mind about it. Those of us who are peons (and I’m a retail peon, which is about as peonic as it gets) might be able to hide longer, but that’s it.

  4. I don’t entirely disagree with Paul Shirley’s opinion, although I think he could have found a more delicate way to express it. I feel bad for those that lost everything in the hurricane; I really do. However, I don’t think that poor people are automatically “victims” that are always in immediate need of rich people to rescue them. I also think you have to hold these citizens at least a little bit accountable for the the deplorable conditions that their countries are in. Perhaps, they should have made more efforts to better the conditions they lived in, they should have educated themselves and made some better life decisions, and they should use this tragedy as an incentive to improve themselves.
    That said, I’m also not surprised or dismayed that Shirley got axed from the Worldwide Leader. Incidents involving Rush Limbaugh, Trent Lott, Don Imus and others should have taught him that you have to tread carefully if you’re a white guy that wants to discuss issues that involve, as our current senate majority leader would phrase it, “those with a Negro dialect.” I think Shirley has the right to express his opinion and I don’t think his opinion is necessarily wrong. That doesn’t mean ESPN has to endorse or agree with it.

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