Freedom of speech in this country is a tricky thing. We talk all the time about fighting abroad to protect our rights yet if you speak your mind stateside you may put yourself in harm's way. Following his fight at UFC 125, Jacob Volkmann simply expressed his opinion, and the firestorm since has bordered on lunacy. He's gotten his name out via multiple television and radio appearances, but he's also lost a paying gig for simply expressing his opinion.
The fighter went mainstream last week, hitting the front page of Yahoo! and "The Tonight Show." He was a hot topic on sports and news radio. This week, he made an appearance on FOX Business. That's right, an MMA fighter on a television network focused on business news. All this for calling the president an idiot and saying he'd like to fight him.
On the downside, a few days after the original Obama video went viral, the Secret Service paid a visit to Volkmann. He also tells the ridiculous tale that his gig as high school coach is now in jeopardy.
"They put me on paid administrative leave because of my comment," Volkmann told Franklin McNeil on ESPN.com. "They said I represented the school in a bad way. I'm kind of irritated about that whole thing. So I can't coach because I have an opinion? That really irritates me."
Volkmann has also received numerous threats via email and phone calls. That's to be expected. The web allows for Internet tough guys to hide behind their computer screens and make threats every day, but for school officials to dump someone for expressing an opinion is, dare I say it -- un-American.
It seems like freedom of speech and the ability to promote open discourse takes a step back every day. Volkmann did nothing wrong. White Bear Lake High School in Minnesota should be ashamed of itself. Let's hope the history and civics teachers at White Bear don't say anything that may be taken as a threat or "embarrassing." The school be without a staff in a few months.
Posted Jun 28 2012
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