By Jason Keidel
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Daniel Murphy is the latest to fall through the trap door of celebrity.
No need to parse the particulars. You heard the quote.
The beauty of our nation — and forgive those of us who still love it — is the unbridled tolerance we take toward speech. There’s no law in having an opinion, no matter how troubling, as long as it doesn’t impede another person’s progress.
But it’s also the reality of people in the public realm, that adulation creates an added sense of wisdom, aristocracy and activism, forgetting what got them before the cameras in the first place.
Unlike most people who belch some archaic bromide about a given group, Murphy delivered a binary thought, tempering his views about gays by using his religion as a backdrop.
But what Murphy forgets, as so many pseudo-celebrities do, is that their talent is their platform. Daniel Murphy’s talent is baseball. And so we’d love to watch him play baseball, not bloviate on peripheral topics.
So if Murphy has any impulse to share his cultural mores, he should repress them. Not because his opinion is right or wrong, but because it’s an unwelcome tangent. What does his view on gays have to do with his ability to help the Mets win games?
And for the those who dwell in the anarchy of social media, who throw themselves in front of Murphy under the aegis of free speech, then just be ready for the toxic blowback.
Ever notice the most successful athletes conduct themselves with painful neutrality? Michael Jordan. Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Tiger Woods, before he departed humanity. Sure, you have a few outliers, like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. But his opinions are only valued because boxing is the last refuge of the reckless tongue.
These aren’t the 1960s, when a social conscience was an adjunct of your athletic ability. How many times has an athlete tweeted some variety of ignorance only to delete and then moonwalk from the quote?
If you’re anywhere near the white-hot light of stardom, you have a hybrid responsibility to be a good player and delicate citizen. Murphy’s mouth is as powerful as his bat. And as someone who was criticized over his handling of the birth of his child, and saw others get vaporized for their views on his paternity leave, Murphy should know better than most about the accidental tripwires of the limelight.
These are different times. Some of us remember a world before the Internet, when you could say something objectionable and not have your words bashed over your head with an online hammer. You can decide if that’s a bad thing, if cyberspace is the new world of ideas, or an abstract iteration of thought police.
Either way, Daniel Murphy should be smart enough to know that such distinctions don’t matter.