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Everybody needs to pipe down on Thomas

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  February 10, 2012 09:06 AM

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I have two thoughts about the whole Tim Thomas controversy.

1. Tim Thomas needs to shut up.

2. The media needs to shut up.

When did the Boston sports world go communist? Whatever Tim Thomas's political views may be, he has every right to voice them, just as you, I, or any other American does. That's not exactly a revelation, but the way the media is treating his stances on President Obama, Catholics, and religious freedom, it seems a lesson that needs reiterating. 

Yesterday's locker room scrum with the Bruins goalie was an embarrassment. For the media, that is. If Thomas wants to post his beliefs in a public forum like Facebook, that's his right. If the media wants to ask him about it, that's their right. If Thomas wants to keep personal life away from work, well, that's his right.

Thomas saying so once should have been enough.

Instead, reporters did their best to get a rise out of Thomas, trying to unlock the mystery behind a man who ...gasp ... may have different beliefs than they do. Quelle horreur.

Facebook may be a public forum, barring privacy settings, and as the star athlete of a professional sports team, Thomas is very much a public figure. That doesn't make him a cyborg. The man is allowed to have a life, views, and beliefs just as anyone else is, and because of his notoriety, he can voice them on a bigger platform. There's nothing wrong with that.

What athletes do with their own time is up to them, despite what TMZ may say about that. If Thomas's agenda fit what 98 percent of the media believed, he'd be applauded and left alone. But how dare he think differently than them. The gall. 

Thomas electing to not visit the White House was one thing, a story rightfully pursued and debated. This latest incident is something else entirely.

Politics amaze me, probably the one realm of debate we can get into which sparks pure hatred on the part of many. Some of us choose to keep our views close to the vest for that very reason. Others see a duty to push a message or agenda. Neither you, nor I should have issue with that. Making this into a bigger story than it deserves to be is ludicrous. Heads up, holier-than-thou  -  Tim Thomas isn't causing a distraction in the Bruins' locker room. You are.

But Tim ... just can it.

For now, at least. There will be plenty of time in the offseason to preach a message, but it's clear that his platform isn't going to simmer down any time soon, and if it does become a distraction, he is ultimately going to find his way out of town, possibly by the end of the month. In a way, that's sort of sad that a grown man can't talk about his feelings and beliefs, but that's the free press we live in. For the good of the team, Thomas needs to put on the brakes, lest the media next accuse him of kicking puppies in the Ristuccia parking lot.

If they ever get out of this funk, the Bruins have to be considered one of the top teams to make a run at the Stanley Cup, but the potential for infighting could pose a blemish on that goal. Think of it as a marriage. You and your husband or wife may have different religious and political beliefs. You may have different music tastes or like to do different things. But if someone keeps bringing up those divergences, it's eventually going to cause a tensional rift.

Everyone just needs to shut up. Freedom of speech clearly only works when you say what everybody else wants to hear. Home of the brave? More like home of the neutered.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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