“Selfish, Childish National Embarrassment…”
Those are the words Texas Deputy Attorney General, Aaron Reitz, used to describe Simone Biles following her self-removal from the Olympic team gymnastics all-around competition earlier this week. To his credit, Mr. Reitz felt impressed to remove his tweet where he expressed this opinion and later issued a very significant apology.
But seriously, what is it about our society that Mr. Reitz felt the unabashed freedom to say that in the first place? I mean, I understand that we in America have Freedom of Speech. But I have also been taught that where much is given, much is expected. And so I ask, when are we going to start expecting more of ourselves with regard to our speech freedoms?
Now some might argue I am speaking in favor of Cancel Culture. I’m not. I’m speaking in favor of growing up. I’m speaking in favor of being human. I’m speaking in favor of exhibiting Christlike behavior in a country that claims to be majority Christian.
Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of the worldwide religion that is athletics. And I am more than aware of our belief as human beings that we somehow have the right to rain down abuse on those who participate in athletics. It goes back centuries. But does that make it right?
“Well, they make millions of dollars for what they are doing.”
I mean, I’m sorry, I don’t understand how someone else’s success give us the right to say hateful, hurtful, or vicious things about them. I have a friend who is doing very well financially. Does his success mean that I should now feel the right to get on social media and blast him personally if some aspect of his business doesn’t perform to my satisfaction? Of course not. But athletes are different right?
“They should just shut up and play sports. I don’t want to hear their political crap.”
Says the guy whose previous 15 social media posts are hateful, politically motivated, and generally truth impaired.
Athletes have a right to speak up just like anyone else separate from what they do for a living. If they bring it into the arena, every person has a right to turn off the broadcast. But do we really need to turn everything we disagree with into another reason to be ugly to our fellow human beings?
“Well, they were being ugly first.”
I’m pretty sure when I read the Bible it didn’t say, “If thine enemy offends thee, get on social media and take that (expletive) (expletive) down. And watch those likes roll in, baby.”
I don’t know Simone Biles. What I do know about her is that she has dedicated more of her life at 24 years old to gymnastics than I have dedicated to any one thing at 48. She has represented our nation at the highest levels of her sport and come away victorious more than any other person in history. So if she feels like her health might be at risk if she continues, I’m gonna give her the benefit of the doubt. Because if she goes forward and injures herself in a way that will inhibit her the rest of her life, I get to turn off the TV and say, “Well, that’s a shame.” Simone? Not so much.
Am I contributing to our nation becoming softer? I don’t know. I don’t care.
But it does seem to me that our world is turning into a place where being kind to someone we don’t know might be the most difficult thing a person can do. It’s easy to be hateful. It’s easy to be a jerk. Especially from behind a keyboard. Showing compassion? Apparently, that takes guts.
So that’s why today I will commend Simone Biles. I’m glad she showed us a different path forward for someone who is struggling with mental issues or mental illness. It’s been far too long in coming.
But in that same spirit, I will also offer this to Mr. Aaron Reitz. Thank you, sir, for your apology. We all say and do stupid things and it was good of you to recognize that your tweet regarding Simone Biles fit into that category. I hope you will take this experience and think twice before spewing hatred ignorantly. As someone who has done the same thing, I can testify that showing restraint and kindness is the better way to go.