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. beachrat

    Robert L Mclaughlin
    I see no reason for Ozzie Guillen to have apologized to anybody for his comments, what has happened to freedom of expression. We all know that the ones he was forced to apoligize to were the Cuban population of Miami, and these are the on...See More

    April 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert B

      I wonder if Miami Marlins Manager said he hates Fidel Castro .... Would he receive a raise ?
      Can you just wonder for a minute if a manager in Cuba or Venezuela said he loves George Bush and was fired ... What these Miami Cubans would claim ??? They would go crazy [ using ] the word FREEDOM.
      Is this the Cuba they are so much in a hurry to populate and govern ? So they can go about telling people how to think and what to say
      and how and when to express a point of view. These people are as bad as the ones they oppose. CNN has not mention not once ... about The American way of life and the main reason these Cubans are living and came to Miami. Not because we allow them to express negative thoughts about Fidel Castro. It's because in AMERICA you can say and be in favor or opossed to any one you desire.Yea ... Let's be Miami Cuban about this. Lets fire the current manager and get a real kiss ass manager that dosen't know jack about baseball but only says he hates Fidel.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Truth

    Please help support truth.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Love Being An Independent Woman

    NDAA – now this. As a Brit I can see where the "Land of the Free" is headed! and it breaks my heart. America is becoming the biggest open prison on the planet. With your President having Absolute power to imprison a "terrorist" [or someone who MIGHT be a terrorist ] without lawyer – without trial – for "an indefinite term" you have a huge problem.

    The problem is – WHO decides what a terrorist is? Someone who plans to bring do to the USA; Someone who puts an anti-government post on HERE; Someone who takes part in a public protest against a government Law they disagree with ?????

    Until someone defines CLEARLY what a terrorist is, NDAA can affect AMERICANS and real terrorists can carry on regardless.
    And if the President has ABSOLUTE power – what would happen if HE committed treason against the USA? These are genuine questions. I'd appreciate honest, non-abusive replies.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Truth


    Please support our justice system. Don't let mob rule take over. Donate today.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. FO local officials

    The guy said nothing wrong! Local Officials are over reacting to a free speech harmless comment. You officials are a strong tasteless comedy skit....

    April 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. FO local officials

    So the law states we have freedom of speech and perhaps we do but what they don't tell you is if you practice free speech you will get crucified and possibly die! Truth is, free speech never was nor never will be!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. t

    DO people honestly compare Castro to Hitler or Bin Ladie?

    April 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. t

    DO people honestly compare Castro to Hitler or Bin Laden?

    April 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Canadian

    I'm a Canadian, and I love Cuba. I vacation there all the time. I always go "off resort", and nothing bad has ever happened to me, nor have the people there been afraid to state opinions on any number of Cuban and world issues. They have over 90% literacy rate. They have FREE health care and send their excellent doctors to help other countries. They listen to the same music and watch the same movies the rest of the world is. You imagine them living in some Soviet-style gulag? Hilarious. The American embargo is what makes their lives hard economically. Castro isn't Hitler. What a joke. Is he perfect? A saint? No. But looking at the way American citizens are treated at home (how many of your people are sitting in jail? How many weirdos are there running around spouting racist stuff/committing hate crimes/etc.), and looking at the way the US government operates overseas (imperialist, war-mongering policies, propaganda against all who don't want to give you what you want), the US versus Cuba is a pot-kettle situation. I'm glad I live in Canada where free speech is allowed and politicians aren't owned by lobby groups run by powerful minorities.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    Oh, for goodness sake!

    Leave Ozzie the hell alone!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Annabell

    I hate when people say "Cuban's have free health care". They may have health care but they don't have freedom. They can't leave and they only have $12 a month to live with. At night they get the lights cut off. If they don't like or agree with the government they end up in jail. Please do the research before you talk crap. Castro has killed millions of people for not thinking the way he does. Why do you think they do all they can to come to this country?

    April 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Canadian

    Annabell, can you read?

    I go to Cuba all the time. Not just me. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians and others. I know people who stay with Cuban friends. Your scary boogeyman Castro hasn't killed them yet.

    Castro has killed "millions"? Your government has killed millions and millions more. That's a cold hard fact for you. You think you're justified because you believe everything you see on the news. "Collateral damage", eh? So sad.

    They have the electricity cut off? You think a big city like Havana has its electricity cut off. You're funny. I'm sure most people turn it off when they go to sleep to save energy. I didn't realize that office buildings lit up all night is a virtue the rest of the world needs to emulate.

    I wonder how safe Trayvon Martin was walking the streets of the US at night? There is a reason I vacation in Cuba more than I vacation in the US. It's safer.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nontechietalk

    I thought we were talking about cigars...

    April 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TommyBoy

    I think the Marlins should make Ozzie, swim to Havana, and try to get either an education or a health care procedure. Then let's see how much he loves Fidel. -TB

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gg

    freedom of speech right–the biggest joke on the planet

    April 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
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