by James A. Bacon
Last week, Jack Del Rio, the defensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders (formerly known as the Redskins) created a mini-furor when he referred to the Jan. 6 riots at the the U.S. Capitol as a “dust up.” His remark proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, effectively killing (for now) a legislative initiative to create a special taxing authority for a Commanders football stadium in Virginia.
While Del Rio screwed up by minimizing the significance of the riot, I expressed worry in a column last week that the Commanders organization would be punished for a comment made not by the CEO but an employee tweeting in his private capacity.
Well, the assault on free speech and fee expression just got worse. Calling the events of Jan. 6 an “act of domestic terrorism,” head coach Ron Rivera fined Del Rio $100,000. The next day Del Rio deleted his Twitter account. In a groveling pander to critics, Rivera also described Del Rio’s comments as “extremely hurtful to our great community here” in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.
Nobody cares about “hurting” my feelings, and I don’t particularly care about the feelings of those who have filed and honed the exquisite delicacy of their own sensitivities into weaponized spear tips. But I’ll tell you what’s “hurtful.” It’s “hurtful” when you apply after-the-fact standards, never enforced before, to punish an employee for expressing his opinion in a private capacity. It’s hurtful when you describe the events of Jan. 6 — “an act of domestic terrorism” — that’s every bit as ill-considered as the comment you’re criticizing. “Domestic terrorism?” How many people did the Jan. 6 protesters kill?
I never had much respect for the Commanders organization to begin with. The football team has been a tax-sucking parasite for as long as I can remember. Now, in an escalation of his rent-seeking activity, owner Dan Snyder has aligned himself ideologically with the Left and punished the expression of free speech in a desperate bid to revive his latest parasitical tax-sucking scheme. Reminder: the Washington Commanders football franchise is estimated to be worth $4 billion.