T-shirts are like opinions: everyone thinks theirs is the best until they bring them out into the sunlight to be judged by everyone else. Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov probably thought so when he wore a shirt in Denver this weekend featuring Russian president Vladimir Putin and the phrase “Crimea Is Ours” on it.
Almost immediately, Varlamov pulled the picture off his Instagram account, because people were laying into him for condoning a contentious political development that’s far from settled. But he really has nobody to blame for himself for whatever blowback has come (and will come) his way.
Consider this paragraph the standard disclaimer for all you staunch libertarians out there currently typing up an impassioned “hey pal, he’s got the right to wear whatever shirt he wants!” email, comment or tweet on your word processing machine. Nobody’s suggesting Varlamov doesn’t have the right to send whatever message he pleases – and that goes for whether he’s wearing that message on his chest or if he followed the lead of people renting airplanes to fly banners over football stadiums this past weekend. We live in a free and open society and people are welcome to express opinions they believe in.
But, just as Tim Thomas found out a couple of years ago, making public statements on controversial issues carries with it a responsibility to defend your stance and to be judged by people in return. Read more