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In defense of Tim Thomas Print
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Written by Blake Benzel   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 18:38

Lately, Tim Thomas has been making headlines not for his play between the pipes for the Boston Bruins, but for his political and religious views. While some may not like what he has to say, Thomas has every right to express his opinion.

Blake BenzelTim Thomas is an American hero.

Not for stopping hockey pucks or donning his country’s colors in international competition.

Rather, it is for fearlessly expressing his views.

Granted the freedom to share his opinion by the Constitution of the United States, Thomas posted, on Wednesday, the words of prominent German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, who is best known as the author of the poem “First they came…”

“I stand with the Catholics in the fight for religious freedom.

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Thomas’ status update could have been written by any of the millions of people that choose to take to Facebook to share their views and opinions, myself included, and no one would give it a second glance.

If they didn’t agree with it, people would simply gloss over it and move on. If they agreed with it, they’d likely “Like” it, maybe comment and move on.

But when the above post is the status update of a famous athlete, it suddenly becomes news, and that is what has happened to Tim Thomas.

He chose to exercise his right to freedom of expression, protected by the First Amendment, and not attend the Bruins’ visit to the White House in what many considered an ill-advised decision. Thomas posted a lone status update on his Facebook page explaining why he did so, then moved on – only, the rest of the hockey world refused to.

By not attending the White House ceremony Thomas went from being the affable goaltender for the Boston Bruins to being a political activist – heroic by some points of view, vilified by others. All for exercising the rights afforded to him, and every other American citizen, by the Constitution.

Now, this move was painted by many as being an affront to his team – a selfish decision made by one of the key members to that team and I can’t deny that it was a move that certainly put his interests above those of the team.

But, again, he had every single right in the world to do so.

Look, I understand that not everyone is going to agree with his opinions. In the interest of full disclosure, my political views oftentimes fall left of the tracks and I didn’t agree with the reasons why he chose to boycott going to the White House.

Still, what Thomas did in boycotting the White House visit and what he did by posting his most recent Facebook status update is, in my opinion, admirable. Just because he is in the public eye, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have an opinion, nor does it mean that he doesn’t have the right to share it.

The fact that his most recent status update on Facebook has now been removed, presumably because of the backlash coming towards him for sharing it, is horrible – especially because many of those leading that backlash are members of the media, who reap the benefits of the First Amendment more than possibly anyone else in the United States of America.

It is very clear that Tim Thomas has opinions, and very strong ones at that. While I can understand the backlash of boycotting the White House, the backlash from his current statement is much, much different. It has nothing to do with supporting his team. It has nothing to do with being selfish.

The backlash from his current statement is simply because he has opinions and he is willing to be outspoken about them. He is being vilified for exercising his First Amendment rights and sharing his opinions, because they are not popular.

So, while I may not always agree with his point of view, I will stand in support of Tim Thomas because, as a member of the media, I find it hypocritical to do anything else.

You can follow Hockey Primetime on Twitter: @HockeyPrimetime or Blake on Twitter: @bcbenzel 

Comments (3)

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Bravo.

Well said. At the time of the day off event, I said much the same thing.
PuckSage , February 09, 2012
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Nothing wrong with speaking out on political issues through social media, especially when so many pro athletes are afraid to spark controversy.. Putting yourself ahead of your team by skipping out on White House visit (a team event) and then drawing attention by posting rant about it is different.
Anon , February 10, 2012
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He had every right to do it and, in turn, everyone who disliked it had every right to criticize it. With freedom comes responsibility and that includes defending your views/actions once you put them out there the way Thomas did.
Andrew Knoll , February 20, 2012

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2012 18:53