Opinions are a mixed bag. When they’re yours, they’re awesome and sacred and intensely passionate. When they’re some one else’s, they’re frivolous, unfounded, or just stupid. I know I’ve said this before, but I have to read a lot of things about baseball, specifically the Yankees in the “research” phase of my daily writing. And as we all know, there’s a lot of anti-Yankee hatred out there, even in the subtlest forms.
Now, the greatest thing about being a true fan is that you completely and understandably think your team is the greatest team in the whole world, even if they’re statistically the worst team in the entire league. Now, realistic fans realize that their team may not be playing well, but they always hold onto their opinion that their team is still the best. And I feel that about the Yankees.
I know that every person with a computer can basically write anything they want about anyone at any time. And technically that right is defined by the Constitution’s First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …”. But that doesn’t include defamation of character, which is essentially slander or libel (slander is spoken, libel is written). In order to be legally considered defamation, the statements must be actionable words, if the guilty of some offense, suffers from a contagious disease or psychological disorder, is unfit for public office because of moral failings or an inability to discharge his or her duties, or lacks integrity in profession, trade or business; that the charge must be false; that the charge must be articulated to a third person, verbally or in writing; that the words are not subject to legal protection; and that the charge must be motivated by malice. But being considered a “public figure” the statute limited the idea of malice and defamation with the ruling of the “importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern”. In other words, public figures like professional athletes are pretty much open to the free flow of anyone’s spiteful words as long as they aren’t falsely accusing them of something illegal (like drugs or some criminal activity).
And that’s what makes reading that so hard. I mean, it’s not like it’s very difficult to come across something nasty about a Yankee or the Yankees. It’s often in the comment section of an article, even if the article is pretty good or objective. Little barbs always pepper the comments sections of Instagram photos or Facebook or Twitter posts. I can’t imagine what the players must read in response to some of their posts, especially those with personal Twitter or Instagram accounts. (Alex Rodriguez just got his Twitter account verified and has a corresponding Instagram account, so I’m guessing he’s already feeling the heat from his own haters, even though he’s only tweeted 8 times.) Several of the pitchers I follow have discovered the magic of the “block” button, but I don’t imagine that lessens the initial sting of the hatred.
I guess my whole point is that I fully support, even encourage, everyone to have and/or form their own opinions on their world. I know I certainly have opinions on a whole range of topics. But what I really don’t like is that people seem to think that a valid form of expressing those opinions can be to deride or demean someone who is either on opposite sides of that opinion or perhaps is the actual target of that opinion. I was on the debate team in high school and took a handful of speech classes in college, and the first thing you learn is to state your opinion in such a way as to make it personal to you, make your point succinctly and coherently, and recognize that others won’t always agree. In fact, many times, people will think your ideas are really stupid, and that’s their opinion that they are completely entitled to have. What they aren’t entitled to do is to tear you apart for having a different view.
So I guess that’s my bottom line. I’ve established a message of positivity on this blog because I firmly believe that whatever you do affects your world — so positive actions and words spreads positivity, and negative ones spread negativity. That being said, I still believe the Yankees are the best team in all of baseball history, and I’m not afraid to say it. I may think some of my family and friends are crazy to believe the same thing about their teams, but I understand where they’re coming from and I love hearing their passion and celebration about “their guys”. I may never agree with them, but I’ll never tear them apart for their loyalties. And I expect them to reciprocate. I honestly don’t care if any one of my readers are Yankee fans, but I would hope you’d at least be fans of baseball and love the dynamics of the sport. In fact, I love some healthy dialogue (read: debate) about the sport. It certainly makes life more interesting.