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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Do athletes that officially represent their country have the freedom of their opinion? An interesting case happened in the recent World Bridge Championships in Shanghai. The article is from the New York Times:

In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.

At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”

By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”

“This isn’t a free-speech issue,” said Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, the nonprofit group that selects teams for international tournaments. “There isn’t any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.”

Not so, said Danny Kleinman, a professional bridge player, teacher and columnist. “If the U.S.B.F. wants to impose conditions of membership that involve curtailment of free speech, then it cannot claim to represent our country in international competition,” he said by e-mail.

Ms. Martel said the action by the team, which had won the Venice Cup, the women’s title, at the Shanghai event, could cost the federation corporate sponsors.

The players have been stunned by the reaction to what they saw as a spontaneous gesture, “a moment of levity,” said Gail Greenberg, the team’s nonplaying captain and winner of 11 world championships.

“What we were trying to say, not to Americans but to our friends from other countries, was that we understand that they are questioning and critical of what our country is doing these days, and we want you to know that we, too, are critical,” Ms. Greenberg said, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not her six teammates.

The controversy has gone global, with the French team offering support for its American counterparts.

“By trying to address these issues in a nonviolent, nonthreatening and lighthearted manner,” the French team wrote in by e-mail to the federation’s board and others, “you were doing only what women of the world have always tried to do when opposing the folly of men who have lost their perspective of reality.”

The proposed sanctions would hurt the team’s playing members financially. “I earn my living from bridge, and a substantial part of that from being hired to compete in high-level competitions,” Debbie Rosenberg, a team member, said. “So being barred would directly affect much of my ability to earn a living.”

A hearing is scheduled this month in San Francisco, where thousands of players will be gathered for the Fall North American Bridge Championships. It will determine whether displaying the sign constitutes conduct unbecoming a federation member.

Three players— Hansa Narasimhan, JoAnna Stansby and Jill Meyers — have expressed regret that the action offended some people. The federation has proposed a settlement to Ms. Greenberg and the three other players, Jill Levin, Irina Levitina and Ms. Rosenberg, who have not made any mollifying statements.

It calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

It would also require them to write a statement telling “who broached the idea of displaying the sign, when the idea was adopted, etc.”

Alan Falk, a lawyer for the federation, wrote the four team members on Nov. 6, “I am instructed to press for greater sanction against anyone who rejects this compromise offer.”

Ms. Greenberg said she decided to put up the sign in response to questions from players from other countries about American interrogation techniques, the war in Iraq and other foreign policy issues.

“There was a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture,” Ms. Greenberg said. “I can’t tell you it was an overwhelming amount, but there were several specific comments, and there wasn’t the same warmth you usually feel at these events.”

Ms. Rosenberg said the team members intended the sign as a personal statement that demonstrated American values and noted that it was held up at the same time some team members were singing along to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and waving small American flags.

“Freedom to express dissent against our leaders has traditionally been a core American value,” she wrote by e-mail. “Unfortunately, the Bush brand of patriotism, where criticizing Bush means you are a traitor, seems to have penetrated a significant minority of U.S. bridge players.”

Through a spokesman, the other team members declined to discuss the matter. Ms. Narasimhan, Ms. Stansby and Ms. Meyers have been offered a different settlement agreement, but Ms. Martel declined to discuss it in detail.

Many of those offended by the sign do not consider the expressions of regret sufficient. “I think an apology is kind of specious,” said Jim Kirkham, who has played in several bridge championships. “It’s not that I don’t forgive them, but I still think they should be punished.”

Mr. Kirkham sits on the board of the American Contract Bridge League, which accounts for a substantial portion of the federation’s financing, Ms. Martel said, and has submitted a proposal that would cut the league’s support for the federation, one of two such proposals pending.

Robert S. Wolff, one of the country’s pre-eminent bridge players, who has served as an executive and board member of several bridge organizations, said that he understood that the women might have had a legal right to do what they did but that they had offended many people.

“While I believe in the right to free speech, to me that doesn’t give anyone the right to criticize one’s leader at a foreign venue in a totally nonpolitical event,” he wrote by e-mail.

David L. Anderson, a bridge player who supports the team, said it was common to see players at international tournaments sporting buttons bearing the date “1-20-09,” when George W. Bush will hand off to a new president, as well as buttons reading “Support Our Troops.”

“They don’t go after those people,” Mr. Anderson said.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/arts/14brid.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

:haha:

This is ridiculous.

Robert S. Wolff, one of the country’s pre-eminent bridge players, who has served as an executive and board member of several bridge organizations, said that he understood that the women might have had a legal right to do what they did but that they had offended many people.

“While I believe in the right to free speech, to me that doesn’t give anyone the right to criticize one’s leader at a foreign venue in a totally nonpolitical event,” he wrote by e-mail.
:help: What a hypocritical statement. He clearly doesn't understand the definition of "free speech."
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

This is totally blown out of proportion, if you see the photo in the article it just says that they didn't vote for Bush, there is nothing anti-American about that. The funny thing is that the reaction made it to the Times, that is worse publicity for Bush than if there was no reaction at all.
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

:rolleyes: I thought the days of such supression were over since Bush's approval ratings were in the low 30's and the majority of us are questioning the Iraq war. Sedition and treason???? Really. Hmmm....a great example of tolerance and freedom of speech in action-I imagine the host country was quite impressed with such an attack on one of the freedoms we keep preaching to them about. again :rolleyes:
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

This is totally blown out of proportion, if you see the photo in the article it just says that they didn't vote for Bush, there is nothing anti-American about that. The funny thing is that the reaction made it to the Times, that is worse publicity for Bush than if there was no reaction at all.
Indeed. Be sure, I'll bring it to the attention of our national Bridge Federation, as I surely would want to know their stance on things like this as well. As bridge players in general are no blockheads, I can well confirm that the ladies openly said that what perhaps 90% of the other players were thinking... at least I know for a fact that OUR team thinks like that (I know the ladies personally).

Horrible hypocrites, penalizing the players for just SPEAKING UP - or rather, just showing their opinion - their disgust about things any a reasonable person should be disgusted about. :mad:
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

The funny thing is that President Bush probably does not even care that these women criticized him much like he shrugged off Natalie Maines' comments as someone exercising their free speech rights.
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

Everyone has the right to free speech - in their own time. She was being paid to play bridge and therefore was at work and so had no right to make statements on behalf of the team. It is very revealing that the sign said ''We did not vote for Bush'' and a little later in the article it says that Ms. Greenburg stressed that she was speaking for herself only and not her teammates. So why did she write the word ''we'' and not the word ''I'"?

The answer to that is that the loony left is so dishonest and used to outright lying that they think nothing of saying the opposite in two consecutive sentences and justify this by telling themselves that anything is allowed in getting their message across - even lying. The reaction of the above posters confirms that they do not object to people speaking for them as long as it is loony. What would they have said if the same woman had held up a sign that said ''We support the bombing of Iran.'' Would they have applauded her for exercising her right to free speech AND implying her colleagues all agreed with her? I think not. Who are the hypocrites here?
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

This is totally blown out of proportion, if you see the photo in the article it just says that they didn't vote for Bush, there is nothing anti-American about that. The funny thing is that the reaction made it to the Times, that is worse publicity for Bush than if there was no reaction at all.
You seem to be confused. The Times will jump on even the most trivial of news if it is anti-Bush. So there is nothing funny about the Times thinking this is news.
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

If I were mortally offended by bridge players, I think I'd be too embarrassed to admit it.
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

If I were mortally offended by bridge players, I think I'd be too embarrassed to admit it.
You just try looking your partner in the eye when you had the lead to defeat 7 no-trump redoubled and you led the wrong card!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

You just try looking your partner in the eye when you had the lead to defeat 7 no-trump redoubled and you led the wrong card!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:haha: :haha: :haha:

You know about the game, great :yeah:.
And indeed - the grudges between players (especially partners :p) can give McEnroe & Connors a run for their money.
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

:haha: :haha: :haha:

You know about the game, great :yeah:.
And indeed - the grudges between players (especially partners :p) can give McEnroe & Connors a run for their money.
The IED's in Iraq are nothing compared to the minefield of making one club, after a stink bid was allowed to stand.
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

The IED's in Iraq are nothing compared to the minefield of making one club, after a stink bid was allowed to stand.
My sister is a professional bridge instructor and player. Based on her stories, some of these ladies could give the Taliban a run for their money.

These players have a right to free speech, but their governing organization can regulate their conduct while they are representing the organization, as the First Amendment imposes limits on governmental action, not that of private parties. I don't see any state action that would trigger the First Amendment in this circumstance. So, if the US Bridge Federation has a rule saying that you can't wear political buttons, t-shirts, or hold up signs expressing a political opinion while you are representing the Federation, it would be regarded by any court as a legitimate rule.

To be sure, if a bridge player had held up a sign saying "Hillary Clinton is a chronic liar", the NYTimes would have a very different take on the matter. :lol:
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

The IED's in Iraq are nothing compared to the minefield of making one club, after a stink bid was allowed to stand.
I once interpreted a penalty-double by my partner as one for take-out, resulting in a -100 score in stead of a +1100. :eek:
The guy didn't speak to me thereafter for weeks... :lol:
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: The world of bridge...

This is the first I've read of this, :yeah: to those ladies. I didn't vote for Bush either. But, I don't think it was the best time to make that statement, a bit in poor taste....although, I don't see what's the uproar about... Most people, including myself, didn't know we have such an organization. They've gotten some much needed publicity:D
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

You seem to be confused. The Times will jump on even the most trivial of news if it is anti-Bush. So there is nothing funny about the Times thinking this is news.
I was not thinking about the Times, I was thinking of the reactions of Bush supporters, I think that that was what made the Times run the story. It is just a minor thing, if the Greek players had a sign "We didn't vote for Karamanlis" I can bet that nobody would give a flying $%&! about that.

You just try looking your partner in the eye when you had the lead to defeat 7 no-trump redoubled and you led the wrong card!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don't tell me, I have failed to lead towards my partner's ace facing such a contract :tape:
 

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Anathemaniac
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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

Don't tell me, I have failed to lead towards my partner's ace facing such a contract :tape:
Just returned from my club tonight with an embarrassing 49% - I'd say we really need a genuine BRIDGE thread on this forum!

Shall I give it a try? :p
 

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Anathemaniac
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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

Ah, BRIDGE...

The Game From Hell. It's here!
 

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Re: Article: "Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar"

Bridge players sound so hardcore :eek:.

... and after reading some of the posts here: bridge= it's all Chinese to me. :lol:


I was not thinking about the Times, I was thinking of the reactions of Bush supporters, I think that that was what made the Times run the story. It is just a minor thing, if the Greek players had a sign "We didn't vote for Karamanlis" I can bet that nobody would give a flying $%&! about that.

Oh come on, I'm sure it would have made the front page of 'Athens Bridge Bulletin'. :p
 
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