April 10th, 2012
02:04 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Ozzie Guillen's remarks about Castro stir buzz, backlash

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Readers can't stop talking about Ozzie Guillen's remarks praising Cuba's Fidel Castro. The Miami Marlins suspended Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for what he said.

Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments

Those who have spoken out seemed to be of two camps: Those who think reaction to gaffes is overblown and Americans' right to free speech is increasingly in danger, and those who believe Guillen should not expect to be able to say whatever he wants without consequences.

godsturn: "Don't we have free speech in this country?"

bill: "Sure we do, but even though he may not face civil or criminal prosecution for his supidity for sharing his comments with the rest of America, he will be tried in the court of public opinion. And the public has a right to be angry at his comments and to act against the Marlins for employing this fool. The First Amendment protects your right to say it, but that doesn't mean that you should or that the greater public is going to support or agree with you."

This commenter said they don't believe that a person's comments should have to do with game play.

zma1013: "What the hell does a Castro comment have to do with baseball?? Why is this guy sitting out five games for something that has nothing to do with baseball? I don't care if he said that Hitler was a nice guy, that doesn't relate to baseball at all or his job managing the team at all."

But for some, Miami's Cuban cultural influences should have been Guillen's red flag.

This person cited the team's stadium as an example of its debt to the community.

yuniel16: "I think many people here are missing the point. Joe Smith from the street can say he loves Osama Bin Laden and no one would care. Now if the General manager of the NY Yankees were to say that Osama Bin Laden is his idol, people will flip until he is fired. Same thing if a commissioner were to say that he praises Hitler; the Jewish community would flip. It's the same thing. One thing is freedom of speech, another is insensitivity to other's suffering. Most here will fight for freedom of speech in this case because obviously Castro has not personally affected them. But if it was Bin Laden, I bet many will have said fire him! Finally, Miami is predominantly Cuban, so if the Marlins want to keep their profits, they need to mend things with the community. It's called damage control. (By the way, Miamians had to foot the bill for this stadium.)"

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, said he was concerned in a video commentary.

EWillies1961: "Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Instead of suspending Ozzie, they should ask him why specifically he said what he said. One should remember there are two Cuban exile communities, the oligarchs that hate all that is Castro for disrupting their monopolies and then the others that see Castro as just another brutal dictator like many politicians around the world. I am sure the latter has no problem or give a darn about Ozzie's comments."

Where does personal freedom and a business' identity begin?

alyarby: "Like many here, I despise Castro and what he has done to Cuba. But I also am very distressed at the increasing infringement upon our right to free speech. Every time I turn around, someone is losing a job or paying some other heavy penalty because of what he or she said. I'm not sure how much truly free speech anyone of us really has anymore."

wow you people are dumb: "Y'all realize that its not a freedom of speech issue, right? Sure he has the right to say most anything he wants, however, the patrons of the Marlins have the right to not attend games because the manager of the team voices opinions they vehemently disagree with. The marlins don't want to be associated with Castro in Miami, so they suspend the offending manager. Imagine the owner of a Kosher store saying he admired Hitler. Sure he has a right to say it, but would Jewish folks give him business? I don't think so."

This commenter said Miami is a unique place.

Brian: "What gets lost in translation when a local story goes national? I'm not native to South Florida, but have lived here for seven years now. There are a few things that EVERYONE in South Florida can rally around, and that's the hatred towards Castro and his dictatorship. If the manager of a toy company stated that pedophilia was cool, there would be a backlash from the consumers and either the company would fail or the manager would be fired. The Marlins are trying to re-brand themselves and this is not what they had in mind. Without apologies and some sort of slap on the wrist, the team stands to lose their fan base or in other words, their consumers."

Another suspected that Americans have a chip on their shoulder.

Ddog: "What happen to freedom of speech? Cuba has over a 90% literacy rate. We are rife with violence domestically ... more handgun killings than anywhere else in the world ... illegal and legal drugs. I love this country, the USA, but we got a ton of our own problems. We are still mad because Castro kicked us out and thumbed his nose at us and survived."

There were some who said we ought to be careful how much stock we put in what athletes say.

ObjectiveGuy: "In my opinion, professional athletes should stick to competing; professional actors should stick to performing; etc. Giving a microphone to an athlete so that he can spew his political views as though they have more importance than those of his fans is just a bad idea. Most of these people in the limelight are egomaniacs who are not in touch with reality anyway, and their distorted political views should not be aggrandized."

And then, this person said our ability to speak is what sets the United States apart.

Bruce Feinberg: "You must be kidding, the difference between here and Cuba is the fact that we can voice our opinions here. Miami has long been too much of a Third World country, Cuba-centric to sickening proportions. This is the U.S., and we enjoy our freedom of speech, and if anyone does not like it, they are free to leave. The funny thing is, even if it is liberated from the current regime, the last thing that the Cubans want is for those who fled to return."

What about the Cubans?

Gabriel: "Cubans in the states cry for freedom and liberty and what America stands for . We have fought for the US in many wars and have proved to be patriotic when the time comes. But as soon as they dislike what they hear or see re: Fidel, Cuba or anything related to Cuba in a positive manner they are the worst hate-loving Americans towards what we truely stand for. We can say what we want, wear what we want and, yes, praise who we want. American Cubans are hypocrites when the time comes for their own needs. And Guillen didn't hurt the the Latin community. He just hurt the feelings of the anti-Cuban establishment in Miami. Not all American Cubans are Cuba haters. Though we stand together on Cuba being a free democracy, we have a completely different way of expressing our love for Cuba. Fifty years of hate and degredation towards Cuba has only played into the Communist goverment's hands."

What's your take? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Baseball • Cuba • Fidel Castro • Florida • Overheard on CNN.com • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. **cosmicVox *

    It's obvious no one in here remembers how Fidel Castro wanted so badly to fire the Russian nuclear warheads at Washington in 1962. He was frothing at the mouth and scared the Russians so much that they took their missles back. Yeah, Fidel, great guy. Phooey.

    April 11, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

      @ **cosmicVox*:
      Ah yes, I remember it well.
      We planned to pack as many friends as possible into our car and drive to Canada before Castor launched the missiles. Our dog was going with us, and we were selecting the friends to save.
      Castro is not a good guy.
      There is free speech here–not so much in Cuba.
      There is also freedom to lose one's job.
      Who was it that said, "You're Fired?" Some rich guy.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I meant "Castro," not "Castor," but it's an interesting Freudian slip.
    As Igor Stravinsky advised other composers, "trust your mistakes."
    BTW, Stravinsky liked to sign his name, "$travinsky." That ambition wouldn't win Castro's approval in the wonderful Cuba that all those Cubans in Florida fled.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. gordoncstewart

    Read: "It Happened In Miami" posted today: http://gordoncstewart.com/2012/04/11/it-happened-in-miami/ about Ozzie Guillen, the Miami Marlins, Miami Cuban ex-patriots; Best Buy CEO resignatin, Bobby Petrino firing, and Ozzie Guillen suspension.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
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