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    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Petition to ESPN: Bring Back Stephen A. Smith

    While this petition is directed towards ending Stephen A. Smith's unwarranted suspension, its scope is much broader. We the Viewers call on ESPN to acknowledge the mistake in suspending Smith. If we're going to have thoughtful dialogue on any topic, we should be tolerant enough to hear to all sides as long as the exchange is respectful. The point of debating is to explore all sides of an argument to achieve a mutual understanding of each other’s views, which can ultimately lead to progress and cooperation. ESPN seems to only want to have a one-sided debate and I think it's important that we hear all sides.

    This petition is not about liking Stephen A. Smith; viewers in his audience have the right to disagree with him. However, we all benefit from his willingness to address tough issues honestly. The point of this petition is to tell ESPN that we're all adults and no group should have that much power over another if the network is about diversity, both in personnel and in thought. What Stephen A. Smith said was not beyond boundaries, but he nonetheless apologized. Did his words warrant a suspension? Please take a moment to read what caused him to get suspended:

    "We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that.

    But as a man, who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do; I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do.

    But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you."

    Essentially he's saying that women should be mindful to not do anything that can escalate the situation. Many of us know that there are women out there who are the aggressors in instigating fights and that needs to be addressed as well. ESPN President John Skipper mentioned that they came to this conclusion based in part by women working for the network. Are we really saying it’s a problem to tell women they shouldn't hit men either? If everyone keeps their hands to themselves, we can avoid violent situations.

    Signing this petition is an acknowledgement that political correctness has gone so overboard that people can no longer have real discussions about the issues. That's the danger here. This country was based on ideals and you create and promote those ideals through thoughtful discussion and discourse. Far too often, ESPN continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to engage in that dialogue if it doesn't fit the mold. If the network intends to be the hub of issues surrounding the World of Sports, then it has to allow a freer flow of perspectives surrounding its issues. 

    Signing this petition is a message to the network's leadership that ESPN should allow thoughtful discussion on serious topics. Commentators who strive to be respectful to the audience and those involved should not be in fear of losing their jobs by participating in that discussion. It is only through open dialogue that ESPN can maintain its place as the beacon for real talk on issues surrounding sports.

    Here's ESPN's president John Skippers memorandum on the suspension of Stephen A. Smith:

    "As many of you know, there has been substantial news coverage in the past few days related to comments Stephen A. made last Friday in the wake of the NFL's decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following charges of assaulting his then fiancée, now wife, a few months ago.

    We've said publicly and in this space that those remarks did not reflect our company's point of view, or our values. They certainly don't reflect my personal beliefs.

    We have been engaged in thoughtful discussion about appropriate next steps. Those conversations have involved a diverse group of women and men in our company. Our women's ERG has added to the conversation and going forward, I know they will help us continue constructive discussion on this and related issues.

    Stephen has called what took place 'the most egregious mistake' of his career. I believe his apology was sincere and that he and we have learned from what we've collectively experienced.

    I'm confident we will all move forward with a greater sense of enlightenment and perspective as the lasting impact of these last few days. I want to thank all those whose thoughts have contributed along the way."

    By signing this petition, you're standing with the countless other viewers who wish to simply remind ESPN's President John Skippers that the "greater enlightenment" he speaks of, can only be achieved through granting commentators the freedom to engage in thoughtful dialogue without fear of punishment. 
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    Item Reviewed: Petition to ESPN: Bring Back Stephen A. Smith Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nic Nice
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