Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling has followed up a potential Hall-of-Fame playing career with a maelstrom of controversial statements, social media activity and political rhetoric that has endangered his legacy and lost him a high-profile job with media juggernaut ESPN. One area in which he has always been strong has been in the advocacy of children and intolerance of bullying. However, his recent actions are tarnishing that legacy too.
Those seeking the positive in Schilling could always point to his charitable work. From taking in displaced Hurricane Katrina victims, to a youth cancer charity, to being a tireless advocate for the causes of medical issues that have impacted his children, the right-hander has been a regular champion of good works.
Schilling also famously became the face of anti-bullying, when he publicly and forcibly came to the defense of his then teenage daughter who became the victim of vicious online trolls after he announced online her college choice to play softball. His unrelenting and fervent response to the tormentors resonated with fathers everywhere. It is thus a surprise to see his recent activity, which not only has targeted a teenager, but one who was just recently a witness to a horrible tragedy.
The Stoneman Douglas High school shooting in Parkland, Florida claimed 17 lives and left many others victimized by the senseless violence of a lone gunman. Many of the survivors have rebounded to use their powerful voices to lead the charge on gun control and gun law reform, which has not sat well with everyone. A baseless conspiracy theory that 17-year-old David Hogg, who has been one of the more vocal survivors, is not actually a student, but rather a “crisis actor” planted to incite sympathy for the side of anti-guns has circulated the interwebs. Schilling advanced this theory by re-Tweeting a post suggesting its possibility.
It’s irresponsible for anyone, especially someone with Schilling’s platform (he now hosts his own radio program for Breitbart Radio), to perpetuate such a patently false and misdirecting idea. Yes, he is a right-wing radio host. However, he’s also still a parent and a one-time advocate against bullying. He may not agree with the calls for gun reform but there are more appropriate ways to make that known.
Hogg is 17, meaning he is a minor. He is literally a child. The simple act of passing along the theory that he is a plant for a cause instead of a readily verifiable high school student is not only irresponsible, it’s literally sick. Regardless of your stance on guns, one should have the common sense to know such territory is way out of bounds.
The polarizing Schilling has been a tireless advocate for children. Although he didn’t provide any context with his Tweet, posting it to his more than 225,000 served as its endorsement. Social media is a powerful tool, for better and worse. The inherent lack of responsibility that many have when using their accounts has created a whole new landscape for us all to navigate and experience the consequences of.
I may disagree with Schilling on many things, but would at least respect his right to engage in a civilized dialogue on any topic. Peddling conspiracy theories that negatively impact a minor is not that. It would be nice to see the former pitcher put himself in the shoes of David Hogg’s father and recall back to not that long ago when he was defending his own daughter against attacks that bear striking similarities to what Hogg is experiencing now. There is no shame in admitting when you’re wrong but there certainly is when you can’t see the error of your ways.
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