In honor of Veterans Day, the publicly-funded University of Maryland Phillip Merrill College of Journalism came out in strong defense of Kevin Blackistone, the professor and ESPN commentator who labeled the American national anthem a “war anthem” and stated that it should not be played before sporting events. On Around the Horn last Wednesday, Blackistone said:
[Y]ou should also be selling the rest of the military symbolism embrace of sports. Whether it’s the singing of a war anthem to open every game. Whether it’s going to get a hotdog and being able to sign up for the Army at the same time. Whether it’s the NFL’s embrace of the mythology of the Pat Tillman story. It has been going on in sports since the first National Anthem was played in the World Series back in 1917. And it’s time for people to back away….You are conflating a war anthem with a simple game. When you have military flyovers and the military symbolism that goes on in sports, I think you’ve got a problem.
The communications manager for the College of Journalism, David Ottalini, said, “We promote faculty independence and they have their own opinions, that’s what the freedom of speech is all about. He is free to express his opinions. God knows people have a right to their opinions.” Freedom of speech, of course, does not include the right to public funding for opinions. When asked by TruthRevolt whether he understood why Americans might object to a publicly-funded university paying Blackistone, Ottalini admitted, “Yes, I can, personally.”
TruthRevolt has started a petition to urge ESPN to apologize for Blackistone’s comments. In the past, ESPN has apologized for commentator Chris Broussard’s opposition to homosexuality on religious grounds.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.