I'm a sports geek, admitted and unrepentant. But the world of competitive bridge is completely under my radar. All I can tell you is that Omar Sharif used to write a syndicated column about it for the newspaper. So why would I be writing about Bridge?
In yet another example of the idiocy that has permeated this country, some members of the women's U.S. Bridge team are being threatened with expulsion from the federation because they don't like King George, and they dared to tell the world.
This is a link to the story at The New York Times. I'm not going to rewrite it, but if you are a free-thinking patriot who thought that this couldn't happen again after the Dixie Chicks were vindicated, read this story.
A few thoughts from me about information in the article:
USBF president Jan Martel claims this is not a free speech issue, claiming to be a private organization. True on one level. But if you represent the USA, you represent the USA. NOT "certain people within the United States who feel that George Bush is doing a good job." You represent ALL of the USA. If you are the "Jan Martel Bridge Foundation", that's different. But to your claims that this is not a free speech issue when you are threatening these women with the loss of their income for one year and a one-year probation after that? For a peaceful and light-hearted expression of political fact? For stating that they are members of the more than 50% of the country who did not vote for His Royal Incompetence? Well, to use a phrase even your beloved leader would understand, that dog won't hunt! (probably because the dog fears the vice-president will be on the trip.) Also, your offer of differing "plea bargain deals" to the women who apologized rather than stand resolute shows that you are being discriminatory and manipulative.
Quoting the article, the words of Jim Kirkham, who sits on the board of the American Contract Bridge League:
"I think an apology is kind of specious. It's not that I don't forgive them, but I still think they should be punished."
Jim, your use of "specious" indicates your feelings very clearly. The definition of specious:
1. apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible: specious arguments.
2. pleasing to the eye but deceptive.
3. Obsolete. pleasing to the eye; fair.
As to the second part of your statement, if you think they should be punished than you DO NOT forgive them. The definition of forgive:
1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
–verb (used without object)
6. to pardon an offense or an offender.
Jim, if you are going to be a repressive, lying jerk who thinks patriotism is the science of "yes-man"ing Karl Rove, at least have the balls to admit it instead of claiming to be capable of forgiveness.
Robert Wolff was quoted as saying that he didn't feel free speech gave the right to criticize one's leader at certain venues. Excuse me, Robert? WAKE YOUR ASS UP! That is exactly what this right is all about. Free speech is not about the ability to chose a baked potato over french fries with your fast food combo meal. It is about freedom from repression for speaking your views.
Debbie Rosenberg, who held up the sign and is now facing this criticism and possible suspension for doing so, expressed the real problem.
“Freedom to express dissent against our leaders has traditionally been a core American value,” she wrote by e-mail. “Unfortunately, the Bush brand of patriotism, where criticizing Bush means you are a traitor, seems to have penetrated a significant minority of U.S. bridge players.”
America was not built by simpering wimpy individuals who caved in to government or to the criticism of their bosses or Tory neighbors. We are a nation founded in rebellion.
The true Americans in this situation are the ones who are standing up to speak their mind despite the possible consequences. I applaud Jill Levin, Jill Meyers, Debbie Rosenberg, Hansa Narasimhan, JoAnna Stansby and Irina Levitina. Especially Debbie, who held up the sign and who is going on record with her dismay at the anti-American behavior of the USBF.