Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Maligned Mendenhall

In the wake of the Navy SEALs takeout of #1 Al-Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden, there was myriad reactions from Americans. With at-your-fingertips access to electronic venues to express opinions, there's often a danger of expressing a thought while still in the "heat of the moment." I myself took about an hour to digest President Barack Obama's address to the nation Sunday evening before I shared my thoughts.

NFL player Rashard Mendenhall, via Twitter, made some comments regarding the bin Laden assassination the next day. Perhaps he should have taken a little more time.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back on Monday tweeted: "What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side..."

To be fair, Mendenhall was a high school student when the 9/11 attacks took place. I'm certain he was honing his football skills which eventually lead to his receiving an athletic scholarship to the University of Illinois, thus he didn't have much time for television news. The fact of the matter is bin Laden made more than a few videos expressing his goal to destroy America and implement some sort of sharia law. He even openly bragged of how jet airliners flown into buildings was his brilliant idea.

Even if we had only "heard one side", how does one justify the slaughter of 3,000+ innocent Americans?

Ah, but Rashard also alluded to that horrific September day nearly 10 years ago.

Mendenhall didn't hold back, even making a reference to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We'll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style," he tweeted.

Mendenhall has since deleted his 9/11-related tweet.

Naturally, Mendenhall's comments were met with much outrage and criticism. But Mendenhall also had his defenders, claiming he had every right to speak his mind freely. Once again, that's not the issue. Yes, Mendenhall has every right to speak freely, but guess what? Others have every right to react to his comments. It never ceases to amaze me (as well as frustrate me) that people decry criticism in response to someone's opinion. The fact of the matter is that "free speech" simply means you can say whatever you desire without the threat of your government seeking retribution (the obvious assassination threats to the President being a notable exception). THAT'S IT!! That doesn't mean you won't have detractors.

If there is NFL football this year, you can bet Mendenhall will hear from the fans again. In fact, the Steelers are scheduled to play at Baltimore (a mere 45 miles from Washington, D.C., where one of the hijacked planes crashed into the Pentagon) on the first Sunday of the NFL season --- September 11, 2011.

Getcha popcorn.


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