As many people in Bruins nation are now aware, Tim Thomas decided to skip President Obama's invitation to the White House.
The fallout has been immense, filled with some legitimate commentary as well as some hypocritical condemnations.
Thomas, who subscribes to a strict adherence to the Tea Party ideology, made it clear his reason for not attending the White House event. Thomas, on his Facebook page released this statement,citing among other things, “out of control spending of the federal government” and his interpretation of the constitution.
Thomas, as he stated, had every right to not attend this event. But, some of the pundits who have opined on this subject have missed some critical elements. Free speech guarantees only that you can't be jailed for your statements. It does not insulate you from criticism. Those defending Thomas have every right and should also defend those who take exception with Thomas skipping this event.
When Thomas decided to skip this event and then subsequently released a statement filled with red meat, right wing rhetoric, he made clear that his reason for not attending this event with the President was overtly political. Consequently, Thomas is now subject to the same political critiques as others who have decided to become political.
If you are a Bruins fan and you are a Democrat and a supporter of President Obama, this may give you a negative view of Thomas. If you, like Thomas, find your political views in line with the Tea Party and dislike the President, your admiration for Thomas may grow. All of this okay and part of our democratic process. The Bruins organization and team mimic society.
Like the Bruins, many of us have coworkers who hold strong political views that we either agree with or find appalling. Regardless, we must find a way, on a daily basis, to not only coexist with one another, but also to productively work.
It is very rare to find two people who share your same exact political beliefs. This does not mean we must “hate” one another because of our disagreements.
Ultimately, I believe Tim Thomas should have gone to the White House with his team. It was not a political event, and his presence does not symbolically mean he supports the President. He made himself bigger than the team, and this is where I find fault.
The firestorm created by his absence has been overblown. But it should be expected. There are many Democrats who are big fans of Thomas and his absence from this event probably altered their perception of him.
It should also be noted, that those who condemn Thomas must also hold former Red Sox General manager Theo Epstein to the same standard for his decision to skip a White House event to protest President Bush.
Eventually, this “controversy” will subside, and it is my belief that the team will not be affected. But, by dipping his toe in the political areana, fair or not, Thomas has voluntarily taken a strong political stance and will now be asked to defend his position.
Like Theo Epstein before him, this was a choice he wholeheartedly made, and the resulting circus is of his own making.