Early Thursday morning, Oregon Ducks tight end Colt Lyerla took it upon himself to exercise his right to free speech in an unexpected and (in this humble blogger’s opinion) horrendously unnecessary manner. Lyerla tweeted out a video claiming the tragic murder of 20 elementary schoolchildren is all one big conspiracy and a lie:
If you have a half hour you should watch this and enlighten yourself.youtu.be/VrngdgUixYg
— ..::⚡C⚡::.. (@ThaRealCL) March 21, 2013
Lyerla is a public figure as a football player on a national championship-contending team, with thousands of Twitter followers who couldn’t give a darn about politics.
Thus, when he sent this out to all all of them, the unexpected tweet drew some expected backlash. Lyerla spent the next several hours retweeting folks who supported his right to free speech and getting into battles with those who challenged the validity of the video.
For their part, the Oregon athletic department wasn’t having any of it:
“Twitter posts attributed to student-athlete Colt Lyerla concerning the tragedy at Sandy Hook are insensitive and offensive, especially those devastated by the shootings, and we have communicated as much to Colt. Though the University of Oregon Department of Athletics as well as the football program have social media expectations in place for our student-athletes, at times, personal opinions go well beyond what we expect from our students. The University of Oregon and Department of Athletics understand that our young men and women have a great deal of freedom of expression on social media but with that freedom comes responsibility. Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with the families of Sandy Hook.”
Yes, freedom of speech is one thing, but a video involving sketchy conspiracy theories and insensitivity towards what were obviously murders (whether they be committed by one, two, or many gunmen, it doesn’t matter) simply is not appropriate.
Can Lyerla share whatever he wants on his personal Twitter account? Of course.
But perhaps he should just stick to playing football.
h/t: Lost Lettermen