In the latest example of intolerance practiced in the name of tolerance by today’s politically correct society, cyclist Quinn Simmons was suspended for tweeting his support of Donald Trump.
According to ESPN/Associated Press, the “controversial” tweets began when Dutch journalist Jose Been tweeted: “My dear American friends, I hope this horrible presidency ends for you. And for us as (former?) allies too. If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man.”
Simmons, the 2019 junior road race world champion, responded “Bye” with a dark-skinned hand emoji.
When someone else tweeted, “Apparently a Trumper,” Simmons responded, “That’s right” with an American flag emoji.
His team, Trek-Segafredo, said in a statement: “Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and supports a more diverse and equitable sport for all athletes. While we support the right to free speech, we will hold people accountable for their words and actions. Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport. He will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.”
They added in a separate statement that Simmons “was not suspended because of his political views. He was suspended for engaging in conversation on Twitter in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting a Trek athlete.”
And the team’s manager said that Simmons “has a bright future as a professional athlete if he can use this opportunity to grow as a person and make a positive contribution for a better future for cycling.”
According to Cycling Weekly, the organization Diversity in Cycling alleged that the use of the dark-skinned emoji was a form of “blackface” and pompously lectured him to “listen and learn.”
“To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way,” Simmons responded. “I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form. To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.”
In my opinion, this is a perfect example of much ado about nothing. Simmons expressed his support for Trump, something that he has every right to do. When one considers the wide range of opinions, thoughts, insults, and profanities that exist in the vast world of social media, Simmons’s tweets are really pretty innocuous. He did not attack or insult anyone, use profanity, or call anyone names. Interpreting the dark-skinned emoji as racist is a stretch and is certainly not an interpretation that would occur to me upon seeing this tweet. There wasn’t any need for Simmons to apologize, as he didn’t do anything wrong. By suspending him, his team went way overboard and veered into the realm of hypocrisy. Any organization that truly values inclusivity and diversity would embrace people with varied political beliefs. There was nothing incendiary or divisive about Simmons’s tweets, unless by divisive the team meant demonstrating ideological diversity, in which case being divisive is not a bad thing. There is no need for Simmons to “grow as a person” or “listen and learn,” as he has already demonstrated good character and courage by daring to voice unpopular views. It is the practitioners of political correctness run amok who need to listen and learn about what diversity truly means.