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In Honor of Monday Night Football this week, Jobu weighs in on the Hank Williams, Jr. Controversy… get your popcorn ready for the 100th post in Jobu’s Rum history!

As many of you know, last week, Hank Williams, Jr. was “fired” by ESPN following some perceived anti-Barack Obama comments he made in an interview on FOX and Friends, in which he compared the President to former dictator Adolf Hitler. I put fired in quotes because Williams doesn’t actually work for ESPN, he just sings “All My Rowdy Friends,” a song that has been used in the Monday Night Football (now on ESPN) telecast for over twenty years. How are we supposed to know when to get ready for some football now?

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, this is what Hank actually said… When asked if he thought the “Golf Summit” (an attempt at finding common ground on the golf course by President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner this summer), Williams said “It would be like Hitler playing golf with Benjamin Netanyahu.” For those of you who aren’t politically savvy, Netanyahu is not a white Jewish reggae singer (that’s Matisyahu). He is, in fact, the Prime Minister of Israel. Williams went on to call Biden, Obama and Boehner (I think) “The Three Stooges.” That was followed by a couple of “come on man”s, and the segment ended with a segue into talking about the Monday Night Football song.

So here’s my problem with this whole thing. I think everyone is completely misunderstanding what Hank Williams, Jr. was saying, and it all starts with the FOX and Friends anchors. Brian Kilmeade immediately says he doesn’t understand the analogy. Later on, Gretchen Carlson speaks in disbelief of how Hank could invoke the name of one of the most hated men in the world to describe the President. Am I the only one who listens to words that come out of people’s mouths? He in no way refers to President Obama as Adolf Hitler. Yes, Hank goes on to call Obama and Biden “the enemy.” Yes, he calls the two (maybe Boehner too) of them the “three stooges.” When he invokes the name of Hitler, all he’s saying is that the two parties coming together to play golf is like watching Hitler and Netanyahu play together, right?

Williams, Jr. on the set of FOX and Friends, aka the scene of the crime.

I’ll explain this to those of you Brian Kilmeades out there. He’s saying that the two parties should not be friends. They are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and so compromise should not be sought. True Republicans and true Democrats cannot agree on political issues, and so compromise is impossible. He used the extreme example of Hitler and Netanyahu (Hitler was not a big fan of the Jews) to illustrate just how far apart Republicans and Democrats should be on the issues. Would Hitler every play golf with Netanyahu? Of course not! And Netanyahu wouldn’t hit the links with Adolf either (no one should, the man was evil!). Granted, this is a very extreme (and potentially offensive) comparison. Any time you use Hitler as a comparison, people are going to react (especially people who don’t fully understand the English language). Maybe he should have compared the golf summit to Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant playing golf with each other right before Wrestlemania III?

As for Gretchen Carlson’s comment, Hank Williams never said anything about Obama being Hitler and John Boehner being Benjamin Netanyahu (or vice-versa). He simply mentioned two names, and she connected them in her head as Obama is Hitler and Boehner is Netanyahu. I think that speaks more to what’s going on in Gretchen Carlson’s head than that of Hank Williams, Jr. If she holds feelings of ill will towards our nation’s president (and she probably does, working for FOX), then that’s on her. Don’t project your thoughts onto poor Hank Williams.

Finally, Williams didn’t say anything positive about Hitler. If he had been a Democrat, and come out and said “Obama is just like and early Adolf Hitler, with all these positive things he is doing for our country (Insert Marge Schott joke here),” then by all means fire the man because he’s insane. If he was, indeed, comparing Obama to Hitler, he at least used Hitler as a metaphor for someone he really doesn’t agree with or particularly like. He’s not parading around on television in an SS uniform, for crying out loud. All he did was mention the name Hitler.

At the end of the day, Williams’ comments were extreme for the sake of being extreme and insensitive, but is that enough to get his beloved song removed from Monday Night Football? He should have been given a segment to open MNF this week in which he apologized for his insensitive remarks and explain what his actual meaning was (which he did in a released statement shortly after his song was dropped from MNF), and allowed to sing the song again to kick off the show. Maybe a charitable donation could have been made in his name to Holocaust survivors too. Hank Williams, Jr.’s political views have never been a secret. That’s why he was invited to FOX and Friends in the first place. So is it cool that he’s a Republican unless he shares those views? I know another organization that once tried to silence those who had different views from theirs…

Oh yes, I went there.

Anyway, here’s the controversial interview, courtesy of Youtube:

feature image courtesy of: AP Photo/The Tennessean, Sanford Myers
2nd Williams image courtesy of: http://www.wsmv.com

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.

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8 thoughts on “Are You Ready for Some Censorship?

  1. On a follow up of this, ESPN is replacing Hank Williams Jr with Barry Sanders if you have not already heard….

    1. How is Barry Sanders gonna get us fired up for football? Does he have rowdy friends? Is one of them Thurman Thomas? I don’t know how i feel about this.

  2. i couldn’t care less about hank williams from the generation talent skipped, but there’s another guy who looked exactly like a reanimated corpse that i have to rant about: al davis.

    so, we’ve spent the better part of two decades hating al davis, making fun of him, and watching him run the raiders into bolivian (i think that’s how that’s spelled). now he’s (officially) dead and all of a sudden he’s a genius and a visionary that will be sorely missed? why is it that as soon as giant assholes kick the bucket everyone in the sports media lines up to kiss their asses (i’m looking at you too, big george)?

    i can’t wait for don sterling to go so i can hear all about how he spent his whole life working to put roofs over the heads of needy minorities, and how he was a visionary for letting elgin baylor run the clippers, as if that had had anything to do with him being black as opposed to a giant yes-man who did as he was told regardless of how bad sterling’s decisions were for the organization. in fact, i would suggest to donald that he swallow a couple of hundred pills tonight to improve his public image.

    and speaking of donalds… when that other one dies, we are going to be treated to the greatest whitewash in history, with all the talk about the great man he wanted us to think he was, rather than the womanizing ass who lived off the hard work of people in all of the organizations that he unfailingly ran into the ground.

    and to bring it back around, don’t you think hitler wishes he had lived now? can you imagine the articles about his transportation infrastructure improvements, the rise in the productivity of germany thanks to all the free labor, and so on? man, hitler got screwed.

  3. Yeah I was repeatedly asked if I was going to write something about the Al Davis passing. I kept saying no because, first of all, he was 82. As we all remember from Old School, “That’s what old people do. They die.” Secondly, everyone hated him with a passion. Coaches, fans, etc. Just because he came up with a great line (“Just win, baby.), we’re supposed to love him? Bull.

  4. He still wasn’t censored. Sorry. The United States Government didn’t take this action. ESPN, a private company, did. That is the difference. Why this is such a hard concept to get, I have no idea. If the Dixie Chicks suffered consequences for their remarks, then Williams should not be any different just because the Chicks were playing to a liberal audience and Williams was playing to a conservative audience.

    The Chicks weren’t censored, and neither was Williams.

    1. Yeah I don’t think anyone should suffer the consequences for expressing an opinion. I don’t mind anyone saying they hate the President. I’m just not sure why this should get a song pulled from Monday Night Football. Are people really not going to watch MNF because Hank Williams, Jr. sings the opening song? The whole concept is absurd. Like I said, it’s not like he was waving a Nazi flag. He just made a comparison. All people, conservative and liberal, love MNF. Why lay down to the liberal complaints? By the way, i consider myself to be pretty liberal, and a Democrat, so I’m defending Hank’s right to share an opinion based solely on the fact that he was asked to give it.

      While Hank wasn’t censored in the traditional sense, he still had his song ripped from the intro. My opinion is more of a “who cares” commentary on the whole situation. Everyone knows Hank Wiliams is super ultra conservative republican, so why wasn’t it a problem before? All he did was make a comparison. He didn’t call anyone Hitler. Like i say in my post, he could have chosen a more PC comparison, but I feel like the misinterpretation of his comments led to the song being pulled and he wasn’t given a fair chance to apologize or explain anything. ESPN panicked and acted a little too quickly in my view.

  5. I think the best point you make is that in this 24/7 news cycle we live in today, who ever reacts first to a controversial event often frames all other reactions. People were not reacting to what he said as much as they were reacting to what they were told he said.
    I have to wonder which event offended more people; what Williams said or how ESPN reacted. Will we ever know?

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