On Thursday, ESPN officially pulled the plug on its famous "Are you ready for some football?" Monday Night Football theme song, following a bizarre rant by singer Hank Williams Jr. On Fox and Friends earlier this week, Williams called Democrats "the enemy," and argued that the president's golf game this summer with House Speaker John Boehner (R) was "like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu." Following the ESPN's announcement, Williams insisted that it was actually him who walked away from ESPN, claiming that the network infringed on his First Amendment rights — but nobody's buying it. Was his termination justified — or is ESPN overreacting?
Williams deserves what he got: There's no excuse for what the country singer said, says Aaron Goldstein at The American Spectator. He deserved to be fired. Likening Obama to Hitler is "an insult to both those who died and survived the concentration camps." Williams may regret his "dumb statement," but it's too late. Besides, "we conservatives do ourselves no favors by comparing Obama to Hitler" — not when there's an intelligent debate to be had about real issues.
"Goodbye Hank Williams Jr., my friend"
And his First Amendment argument is ridiculous: No, Williams' freedom of speech was not "stepped on" by ESPN, says Dan Amira at New York. He is more than free to compare anybody he likes to Hitler. He is free to pen a song titled "President Obama Is Just Like Hitler" if he wants to. But ESPN is not required by the First Amendment to keep him on the payroll. "The First Amendment doesn't protect anyone from the repercussions of their own stupidity."
"Hank Williams Jr. doesn't quite get the First Amendment"
Still, he shouldn't have been fired: "Let's all calm down," says Victor Fiorillo at Philadelphia. Williams didn't even really compare Obama to Hitler. He simply said that Obama's golf outing with Boehner was like an "imaginary" outing between Hitler and the prime minister of Israel. "They're mortal enemies. Get it?" He was simply speaking to the "immense partisan divide" in our country. That's a firable offense?
"Hank Williams Jr. did not compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler"
In another age, Williams might have survived: Less than a decade ago, Williams may have gotten away with an "asinine, border-line racist comment" like this, says Scott Patrick Valentine at The Calgary Herald. "That's because a little thing called social media had yet to be invented." These days, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, controversy spreads like wildfire. And as the news blows up, a network like ESPN risks corporations pulling their ad money, making it foolish not to just fire the offender.
"Dear Hank Williams, Jr. — You don't know anything about football, politics or technology"