To those who follow him, ESPN baseball commentator Curt Schilling has a history of inflammatory comments. But his recent rant against trans people on Facebook—complete with a grotesque meme and the assertion that “a man is a man no matter what they call themselves”—finally earned him a pink slip from the sports network.
“ESPN is an inclusive company,” said ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
Before joining ESPN, Schilling was a major-league pitcher who helped lead the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in 1993, and won championships with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox.
He joined the network in 2010, and recently appeared on Monday Night Baseball
After his Facebook post sparked outrage, Schilling maintained he was only responding to a meme.
“To be in a place where people actually believe I’m a racist or I’m transphobic says to me that something has gone horribly askew somewhere,” he told WEEI.
But he chose to repost it, and add his own incendiary comments. And then, the former MLB all-star seemed to go on the offensive.
“Let’s make one thing clear right upfront,” he wrote on his blog. “If you get offended by ANYTHING in this post, that’s your fault, all yours.”
“This latest brew ha ha [sic] is beyond hilarious,” he added. “I didn’t post that ugly picture. I made a comment about the basic functionality of men’s and women’s restrooms, period.”
Schilling’s son, Grant, defended his father on Tuesday.
“While I will say he’s not the most well informed in the modern LGBT+ culture, i can assure you he’s made great strides to understand people today,” he wrote on Facebook.
“If he were a bigot he wouldn’t have allowed my Trans friends to stay over, he’s respected pronouns and name changes- never once have I heard him say something to me that I thought he should keep quiet about.”
Of course, conservatives have begun to rally around Schilling, maintaining his First Amendment rights are being violated. But as OutSport’s Cyd Zeigler opines, the First Amendment doesn’t protect you from backlash to your speech:
To be clear, Schilling’s offense was not having a political opinion, it was expressing himself with a Facebook share and a comment that was demeaning to an entire class of people under attack in our culture today.
He could have offered a thoughtful perspective and, like his family has suggested, admitted a lack of understanding of issues. Instead, he used a disgusting display, followed up by blaming everyone who was offended and refusing to back down.
Last September Schilling compared Muslims to Nazis, and ESPN suspended him for the remainder of the year. He also went off on the current election season, declaring Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere.”
You have to wonder if he had time to talk about baseball at all.