The thought police are running rampant on a new field -- major league baseball, a playpen for overpaid brats about which I usually don't give a damn.
Ozzie Guillen, manager of a team called the Marlins, has been suspended for five games, without pay, because he formed an opinion and expressed it. This transgression might have gone unpunished except for certain modifying conditions:
1. The opinion he expressed was about Fidel Castro, the aging former leader of Cuba. Guillen told an interviewer he "loved" Castro and "admired" him for surviving so long with so many enemies.
2. His employer's home base is Miami, a city rife with Cuban exiles whose hostility toward Castro is without limit. The team has just opened a new stadium situated in the part of Miami known as "little Havana."
Christians in the colosseum of old Rome faced better odds than Mr. Guillen after he exercised his right of free speech.
I have no interest in, and attach no importance to, his opinion of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez or Donald Duck. His expertise on anything more complicated than "take two and hit to right" is scant. He has never been celebrated for weighing his words before uttering them. But he has an absolute right under the Constitution to utter them.
His importance at this moment is purely symbolic. He is a representative victim of a society that not only tolerates but cheers the evolution of its once democratic republic into a police state. Brutal police attacks on and arrests of peaceful Occupy protesters. Arrest and mistreatment of dissenters seeking to present their views at public forums, even the halls of Congress. Torture of Bradley Manning. Persecution of whistle blowers. Laws authorizing detention and even killing of American citizens without warrant or charge.
President Bush conducted office with utter disdain for the Bill of Rights. His successor acts as if he wants to erase it entirely.
At the risk of offending not only the thought police but also the incomplete analogy patrol, I submit the hardly original suggestion of chilling similarities between Bush-Obama America and early Hitler Germany.
Increasingly militarized police. Warrantless arrest and detention without charge. Bloodthirsty mobs shrieking epithets against Islam, dissent and unpopular speech. Government sustained by a climate of fear.
Poor Ozzie Guillen should be grateful for having been born in Venezuela rather than, say, Teheran.