J.D. Martinez is the latest professional athlete to come under criticism for past social media activity, after a 2013 Instagram post — in which the Red Sox slugger promoted a counterfactual meme invoking Adolf Hitler to argue against gun control — resurfaced this week.
“We spoke with JD and he explained he was expressing his view on a political issue,” Kennedy said in a statement to Buckley, adding that players have a right to express their own political and social views under the MLB’s social media policy.
“We work with our players regularly to reinforce that their social media interactions can be interpreted in ways that are unintended,” Kennedy added.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora echoed Kennedy’s comments before Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins, characterizing Martinez’s post as “a political view” that the player had expressed a few years back, according to WEEI.
“I think players control their Twitter handles and Instagram and if it’s there people are going to find it and they have to be responsible enough to explain why they did it,” Cora said.
Earlier this month, Red Sox officials reportedly directed players throughout the organization to review their social media accounts, after several MLB players were called out for posting offensive material as teenagers. Asked about the specific post by Martinez, Red Sox manager Alex Cora reiterated WEEI on Tuesday that the star player was
While perhaps not as inflammatory as the resurfaced racist or homophobic posts by other athletes, the then-25-year-old Houston Astros outfielder’s 2013 post featured a photo Hitler giving a Nazi salute and the words, “To conquer a nation, First disarm it’s [sic] citizens.”
“This is why I will always stay strapped! #thetruth,” Martinez wrote in the caption.
However, it appears the meme is less grounded in #thetruth than Martinez thinks.
First, there is no evidence that Hitler ever said those words. And second, the theory that gun control laws allowed the Nazis to perpetrate the Holocaust has been debunked. While Hitler worked to take away guns from Jews and other classes of people targeted in the Holocaust, the Nazi leader passed laws to loosen gun laws for the rest of the German population.
Martinez came under fire for the post (which was still up as of Tuesday afternoon) after New York Daily News reporter Kate Feldman shared a screenshot of it Sunday night. The Daily News, New York Post, and other national outlets subsequently pounced on the controversial post Monday.
Buckley even reached out to Mike Godwin — the attorney, author, and promulgator of Godwin’s Law, the maxim that online debates will inevitably result in someone making an eventual Hitler comparison — to ask about Martinez’s post.
“The Nazi gun control argument is a myth,” Godwin said. “It’s wrong. It’s not true. It’s so not true that it has its own Wikipedia entry.”
That it does.