On Tuesday, the Miami Marlins' manager, Ozzie Guillen, was suspended for five games without pay after comments he made about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were featured in Time magazine.
"I love Fidel Castro," Guillen told Time. "I respect Fidel Castro, you know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherf****r is still here."
Guillen's comments came just one week after the grand opening of the new Marlins Park, which is located in the heart of Little Havana, a neighborhood predominantly made up of Cubans, many of whom were born in the island nation. He caught a flight from Philadelphia back to Miami just days after his comments were released to apologize to the fans.
Guillen apologized a countless number of times in English and Spanish, and said that his comments about Castro were "the biggest mistake of [his] life."
Although Guillen's comments could be considered inappropriate and were disrespectful to those who endured Castro's regime, the First Amendment is all-inclusive. Guillen, along with every U.S. citizen, is entitled to his own opinion and has the right to speak freely and openly. The right to free speech should be applied to all situations regardless of the person, situation, status and location.
Many do not agree with Guillen's negligent and ignorant comments, and that is understandable. But he cannot take back what was said. In fact, if members of the Cuban community want to target their feelings of distress and anger at someone, it should be at Fidel Castro. He is the man who destroyed Cuba, not Ozzie Guillen.
The Marlins' manager is known for being outspoken and, at times, controversial. He has been criticized in the past for a gay slur he made towards a Chicago-area sports columnist, and for praising Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Clearly, he's a repeat offender, and should seriously consider using his frontal lobe before speaking and offending half of his team's fanbase. But his comments, nonetheless, are protected. We live in the United States, not in Cuba.
There is no doubt that Guillen's comments were uncalled for, irrational and offensive. He is a public figure in the Miami community who has assumed the role of a leader in his new city. Guillen should be a role model for children, fans and his team. As an important person in a predominantly Cuban community he has the responsibility to maintain his professionalism, which he failed to do when he blurted out comments he said he deeply regrets.
However, as student journalists, it is difficult to deny Guillen his right to voice his beliefs, even if they come with a price. Guillen is already paying his.