Let me get one thing out of the way here really quick. On a whole, my political views tend to be left of center. I pride myself on being more pragmatic than subscribing to any one ideology, but for the most part, I find myself falling on the left side of the tracks, so to speak.
Tim Thomas does not.
On Monday, the Boston Bruins were invited to the White House for the yearly meet-and-greet with the President of the United States. All of the players from last year’s Stanley Cup squad were invited and all (with the exception of Michael Ryder, whose schedule conflicted with the visit) showed up.
Tim Thomas did not and, you know what? I think it’s an unbelievably big deal.
Now, I’m sure I’m going to get a fair share of people reading this that are expecting me to roll out a ridiculously long political manifesto about how Thomas is disrespectful and yadda, yadda, yadda. But here’s the thing. I actually applaud his actions.
Sure, the act might have been disrespectful to some degree. The expectation for professional athletes is that you go to these events, smile and shut up.
Instead, Thomas chose not to. He exercised his inalienable right to freedom of expression and, whether or not I agree with his political leanings, I applaud this and I think that the majority of pundits and writers out there should be doing the same.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to make Thomas out to be some great political activist. His actions will be debated over the next couple of days and, likely, left alone after that, but I applaud Tim Thomas for sticking to his convictions and doing something that, quite honestly, is a protest.
Recently, Wild Nation joined the protest against SOPA and PIPA. We went black for 24 hours and our site was, for all intents and purposes, shut down even though you could click through the script and read what you wanted. It would be unbelievably hypocritical of me to cry foul now, when it appears that Thomas is doing basically the same thing.
Bloggers and journalists live and die by the First Amendment. Without it, bloggers aren’t able to do what they do and journalists would certainly have a more restrictive environment. Every time I fire up my lap top and write something for Wild Nation, I’m exercising my First Amendment rights.
So was Tim Thomas.
Regardless of whether or not his actions were respectful or politically motivated, Thomas is afforded the right to express himself how he chooses. You may not like the way he chose to do so, or agree with the political leanings of his actions (if any because, honestly, we don’t know one way or the other yet), but to vilify Thomas for these actions would be one of the highest forms of hypocrisy.
Do I agree with what he did? Absolutely not. Do I think he was right? No, I don’t. But I will fight tooth and nail in defense of him, because he had the right to do it, just as I had the right to shut down Wild Nation for a day in protest and just as I have the right now to write this.