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On Rockie Ground I just
2003-05-01 13:17
by Mike Carminati

On Rockie Ground

I just read Rob Neyer's piece on the Todd Jones comments. He feels that Jones should not be punished for his anti-gay comments. Neyer's stance is admirably open-minded (in contrast to Jones') but, I think, ultimately misplaced. Neyer quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes to assert that a free society is more free if it allows its citizenry to express unpopular or even offensive ideas. Hey, I'm all for that.

But we are not talking about Jones, the American citizen. That Jones shouldn't be jailed or ostracized for holding what society would consider offensive opinions.

We are not talking about Jones, the individual, whose comments offend like an old buddy getting drunk and showing you his ugly, close-minded side.

This is Jones, the (so-called) pitcher and employee of the Colorado Rockies baseball club. That Todd Jones has to work with other individuals and if his comments are such that it may cause undue stress to those other individuals at work, then the Colorado team can be held responsible. More to the point, if Jones' comments represent the Rockies' environment as a whole, then a gay ballplayer or office worker could sue if he/she does not advance or is underpaid.

That's the issue here. It's not morality; it's liability. Jones represented the team when he spoke to the reporter and said those "unfortunate" comments. Perhaps it is unfortunate, as well, that Jones' comments are headlines from coast to coast whereas an average Joe Lunchpail's unsavory opinions aren't aired to the masses. But that goes with the job. If Jones were a PR person for the club or any other company (or a Hall of Fame president), his publicly expressed opinions would reflect badly upon the club or company as a whole.

Why should Jones be held to a lower standard? That is why the Rockies quickly issued a press release stating that his opinions do not reflect theirs.

The club was well within their rights to demand a public apology from Jones. Given that Jones is still of the mindset of "I think my only mistake was that I made my views public," it is now time for the team to punish him.

If the Rockies do not fine or suspend him (or both), then his non-apology and his defiance could be used to prove the club's true anti-gay environment. Why else would they accept a token apology?

Let's say that in ten years a Rockies player comes out and sues his former employers for having to work in an anti-gay environment and for causing the ensuing stress upon him as a worker. Whether he would win or not, I do not know. But the current state of affairs does not aid the Rockies in fending off such a lawsuit.

The Rockies are well within their rights to dismiss, fine, suspend without pay, etc. Jones (as long as they follow whatever employee guidelines they have established and the laws of the state of Colorado). Would it be fair? I don't know. Would it be legal? Bet your sweet bippy it would.

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