Bernstein: The Failed ‘Protest’ Of Tim Thomas

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) It’s probably a bad idea to protest the trampling of your rights and liberties by…exercising them.

That would be like protesting a hot dog by eating it.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas refused to accompany his teammates to the White House Monday, letting them celebrate their Stanley Cup without him. He took to Facebook to explain himself, apparently while wearing a tri-corn hat.

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People,” he wrote. “This is being done at the Executive, Legislative and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers (sic) vision for the Federal government…This was not about politics or party.”

He’s pretty angry.

And he makes no sense. First, what’s the point of making what’s obviously a political statement, and then claiming it’s not “about politics?” What could it possibly be about, then? This, from the guy with “Don’t tread on me” stenciled on his mask.

It would be easier to respect his decision if we could at least understand it. Dan Hampton skipped the belated White House trip with the 1985 Bears, because he is “…not a fan of the guy in the White House.” OK, fine. Your loss.

It’s about the office and the honor, not any implied endorsement of any policy or position. If someone wants to miss out on such a special opportunity, that is their right, despite the rampant oppression perceived by Thomas. There are still places where an appearance before Dear Leader is compulsory, not optional.

I’ll await the reflexive response from dunderheads that goes something like this: “He’s got you talking about it! He wins! He’s bringing attention to it!”

The only problem with that argument is that there is no “it.” He’s not bringing attention to anything substantive or rational, and he’s lacking any kind of coherent cause. He’s not freeing Tibet or Mumia Abu Jamal, shining a light on atrocities between the Hutus and Tutsis, sticking up for Falun Gong, or campaigning to have pets spayed or neutered. Tim Thomas is only successful in raising awareness of Tim Thomas.

He’s allowed to do it, at least until the rapacious government decides to abolish that right as well. Others have had different ideas: Craig Hodges visited President Bush with his Bulls teammates, opting to hand-deliver a letter about something, and wearing a dashiki for some reason. (The fact that I have no idea what his cause was should say something about this whole story.)

If Thomas wants, he can co-opt the tactics of the Occupy movement, which chose to protest a zero-sum economic fallacy by sitting on the street and smelling bad. That didn’t work, either, as giant corporations still exist to make money, and rich people are still rich, last I checked.

So to get this straight – Tim Thomas is publicly announcing his decision to act freely without governmental repercussion, rejecting a request to appear before the president. He is doing so to protest the government’s threatening of his liberty. Huh?

He added “This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.”

Also as an IDIOT.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: The Failed Protest Of Tim Thomas
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.

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  • Sophist

    Good advice, Dan: about the only thing that smells worse than an anarchist is a bag of hockey equipment, especially with all the goal pads.

  • Meatless Meatball

    Waiting for the first delusional redneck to come on here and yell about how Thomas is a great American and Obama was born in Yemen or whatever.

    Look, to preempt some of that nonsense, let’s be clear: no one cares about the politics of athletes (until or unless they become politicians and/or activists themselves). It’s as true about Thomas as it is about Beckham as it was about Michael Jordan, who, according to Sam Smith, crowed at Phil Jackson that he wouldn’t visit the first Bush White House, and that Jackson shouldn’t, either. The truth is, with guys like Thomas, it is about self-promotion, not promotion of a cause. If Thomas wants to march with Tea Partiers, go for it. If Thomas wants to create a Super PAC, go for it. If Thomas wants to profess his love for Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul or Wayne Allen Root or whomever, go for it. But that’s not what he was doing. He was pulling a stunt that showcases his willful ignorance and stupidity.

    And quite frankly, there’s nothing political about a champion team being invited to the White House. It’s a photo op, nothing more. I mean, are we really, honestly supposed to believe that Barack Obama could name a single player on the Bruins?

  • EK

    I think Tim and others like him (Dan Hampton, for instance) teach us a good lesson:

    In the United States, you will always have the freedom to look, sound and act like an idiot and a jerk. The government will never save you from yourself.

  • Real American

    I betcha you wouldn’t say anything if he wuz a muslim Bernstine!!!

    • JF Kayo

      Whoa there, Sunshine. Rocky VII is likely in the pipeline. Now inhale though your nose. Better?



  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Mom always said not to talk religion or politics.
    That’s especially good advice for jocks and celebrities.

    • Bronzo

      Larry as usual you hit the nail on the head…..coming from a family of 7 kids we never discussed politics at the table …and still don’t as adults..we are all irish Catholic so the religion part is taken care of..

      Now if we can just keep politics out of our sports blogs we would all be happier.. I’ll wait for the discussion to get back to sports..Thank you,…

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Bronzo, I think we grew-up along similar lines my friend.
        And, yes, it would be fun to get back to on-the-field sports conversation.


    I think you could go further.
    Doesn’t he end the statement with “this is all I am going to say on the matter.”
    The government stinks. End of story.
    I’m done–what’s next?

    If it’s that bad, do you want to launch a new movement? One within the bounds of the laws of the land.
    It opens up the possibility that if the Bruins win again, he might accept the next invitation.

  • KM

    “It’s probably a bad idea to protest the trampling of your rights and liberties by…exercising them.”

    This may be the single dumbest sentence I’ve read all month. How else would you suggest he go about protesting except by exercising his 1st Amendment rights?

    • Spoon

      That loud ‘woosh’ sound is the point skimming right past your empty dome…

      • Bronzo

        Spoon…that was funny, well played!!

      • km

        OK, chief. Name me one way to “protest” without exercising one’s rights.

    • Ralph

      I totally agree with you. This writer completely nit-picked everything Thomas said to criticize him for it. Our rights are being stripped away by the Federal Government, and Tim Thomas not attending the White House dinner was his way of standing up against that. Would this writer be happier if the government to prove?

      And the hotdog metaphor just made this author sound even dumber.

      • Mr. Mouth

        What rights are being or have been stripped away? Provide compelling examples!

      • Meatless Meatball

        On Mr. Mouth’s point, for what exactly was Thomas standing up? He didn’t go to the White House. Big effing deal. Do you think anyone at the White House cares that he didn’t go? Do you think his protest is going to be noted?

        The comparison with Occupy is apt. A protest made simply to protest is stupid. Leave that kind of malarkey to 19-year-old college kids who walk around campus with signs pledging that they won’t ever drink Coke again, just RC. Thomas is acting just like one of those kids, not realizing that his “protest” falls on deaf ears. You really want to protest? Run against President Obama and beat him, or run for Congress and oppose him. Not going to the White House when your team is invited isn’t a protest at all. It doesn’t protest a darned thing.

  • Ralph/ Cash Bbeardsley

    Agree with your comments here Dan- and especially with one of the other people above who noted that political statements by celebrities overall mean about absolutely nothing! Theo- incidentally did not attend either of the RSox’s visits to George W. BTW- Obama likely will be re-elected pretty easily due to the total clown-car of ineptitude that is the remaining Republican field. His poll numbers are currently going in the right direction- and probably will continue to.



  • Cap'n Amurrica

    Worst aspect is raising consciousness of Tim Thomas, The Hoopster – especially in Chicago. And I’m a Bruin-loving Blackhawk fan. Unhappy with yonder C-in-C? Go Steven Colbert. Your gut will thank you.

  • XyZxxYZ

    Mr. Mouth, you should look into the USA PATRIOT ACTS. Also, the Military Commisions Acts of 2006, which did away with Habeas Corpus. Not to mention the constant attempts to restrict gun right.

    Bernstine- you are a shameless defender of the system. Big shock.

    • Spoon

      Another loud woooshing sound…

    • Mr. Mouth

      While I am aware of and concerned about the potential for erosion of fundamental liberties entailed by the active portions of the laws you mention, your arguments, both implicit and explicit, about their true magnitude and meaning leave much to be desired. For example, your claim that habeas corpus has been done away with is risable. Recent wrong-headed attempts at restrictions of judicial rights nonwithstanding, the fact is that every citizen arrested by US civil authorities faces and will continue to face a by-and-large fair trial.

      Perhaps it should go without saying, but I have serious reservations about the compatibility of your notion of “gun right” with, well, anything reasonable, including the intent of the framers of the Second Amendment, the historical facts of arms bearing in our republic, or the realities of modern life. Suffice it to say that I remain unconvinced by your claim there.

      Actually, suffice it to say that I remain unconvinced by everything you’re saying even with respect to the restriction of rights, much less the claim that this is what Thomas’ hackles are up about. Why, then, didn’t he say so?

  • sophist

    Good examples, XyZxxYz. somehow I think this is not quite what Tim Thomas was talking about. My impression is that his critique was very political, very partisan, but he didn’t have the guts to go into all that when he released his statement on the issue.

  • Steve in Gary

    Dan’s column is no more insightful than Tim Thomas’s assertions of loss of freedom. One annoying thing about liberals is the dismissal of people who are on the other side of the aisle as idiots without even offering a solid argument why.
    Based on Thomas’s comments that Dan quotes, I can’t really tell if Thomas has any solid reasoning behind his assertions of loss of freedom or not.
    It is entirely possible that Thomas could sight examples of loss of freedom in the U.S. For example, the individual mandate in the Obamacare law could be considered loss of freedom. So could much federal regulation enacted by the executive branch. And would anybody deny the loss of freedom experienced when tied up in the ensuing legal regulatory battles in the courts. Hmm. That covers all three branches as Thomas notes.
    I can understand respect for the office of the presidency so I would show up at the white house if it were me but to just brand someone an idiot because you disagree with his politics is just lazy rhetorically on Dan’s part.

    • Spoon

      He’s not calling him an idiot because he disagrees with his ‘politics’, he calling him an idiot because his attempt at making a statement is about as effective as a 3yr old that refuses to eat his brussel sprouts.

      Here’s an idea. Go to the White House and tell the POTUS how you feel. Ya know, like 100 million adults would do if they were given the same golden opportunity that he was,

      • km

        “Go to the White House and tell the POTUS how you feel.”

        That would be exercising your right to free speech, which according to the very first line of this article, wouldn’t make any sense.

        Now what about that “whoosh” sound?

      • Le.igh

        Sounds like all you would be doing at the WH is bending over for the SKUNK.

    • Denver Deadite

      The most annoying thing about conservatives is that they enjoy showing what complete and total hypocrites they are.

      • Steve in Gary

        Denver, you just reinforced my argument by lazily calling me a name (hypocrite) without backing it up with any argument whatsoever. Good grief.

      • Denver Deadite

        I’m sure you’re bright enough to use your mouse to scroll down to see my other comment, which included an example of the hypocrisy of Thomas, you, and the rest of your ilk.

        And yes, you should be dismissed.

      • Denver Deadite

        Even better: the e-mail B&B received yesterday about how if Thomas really wanted his freedoms, he wouldn’t be a professional athlete, where he’s forced to hand over a ton of his rights. If he’s traded and doesn’t have a no trade clause in his contract, he gets no say in the matter. No rights.

        Oh, but he gets paid, so as long as he gets to deposit that hypocrisy in his bank account…

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Thomas’ stance? Meh. I wouldn’t pass up a chance to meet the POTUS, no matter what I thought of him… His assertion is that it isn’t political, and we can talk about how he’s a Glenn Beck fan…

    …but is it really worth chiding him in this manner? Meh. It’s the biggest mainstream headline Thomas will get all year. Let him be silly. I’d rather have seen something more relevant to Chicago sports- or at least more PSU derision- I can always handle more of that.

  • Thanks!!!

    BREAKING NEWS: Many professional jocks aren’t intelligent. Appreciated the deconstruction of Thomas’ outrageous reasoning. Without Dan’s “digging” Thomas’ hypocrisy wouldn’t have been unearthed.

  • BWM57

    So what if someone wants to protest America becoming the Land of Entitlement compared to the Land of Opportunity?
    Bennstein, your sthick has always been being the smug jerk, as usual you continue the tradition.

    • Meatless Meatball

      The fact, BWM, is that Thomas’s protest isn’t really a protest at all, because no one who’s being protested noticed. Yes, Dan noticed. But did Obama? Did his aides? Did Biden? How about the Democrats in Congress? Okay, maybe a couple of die-hard Bruins fans who also happen to be sitting Representatives might’ve taken note, but no one with any semblance of real power did. So his “protest” just amounts to a baby whining.

      If Thomas had any real cajones, he would’ve gone to the White House and told the President, “Respectfully, sir, I disagree with your polices for reasons X, Y, and Z.” That’s what a grown-up does: s/he converses. Thomas shut down the conversation because it’s easier to whine about stuff than it is to actually confront those with whom you disagree.

      • km

        “Thomas’s protest isn’t really a protest at all, because no one who’s being protested noticed.”

        Leaving aside the fact that it was national news (albeit a small item), this makes little sense. So free speech is only free speech if enough people listen to it?

  • Wrong Turn

    What floor are tires on?

  • LOTD

    I’m actually shocked that none of you liberals called Thomas a racist!!!! But, I’m sure that is GB’s fault also. PLEASE let’s make this an intelligent debate – post a list of ALL of Obama’s accomplishments. Maybe you morons should learn the issues and not question someone who simply wants to stand up for his beliefs.

    • DanMcNeilDanMcNeilDanMcNeil

      So just standing up is all that matters, so then OWS was a success, right?

  • SteveSpy

    Tim Thomas is what is wrong with America!!!!! In a time gone by, citizens and politicians were capable of being respectful of people even if they disagreed with their political views or policies. Tim Thomas has shown disrespect for the Office of the President and the Country. He should be ashamed. It has little to do with President Obama’s accomplishments, views, etc. He IS the POTUS! Show some respect. This lack of respect, intelligence, and discourse is what is crippling our Nation.

    • Denver Deadite

      Well, it’s the hypocrisy in action…

      Bush: “Respect his au-thor-a-tay!”

      Obama: “Respect? What is this word?”

    • Leigh

      Again you liberals miss the point. Obama and people like him are crippling the country and you guys are lapping it up.

  • DanMcNeilDanMcNeilDanMcNeil

    His rights are definitely being trampled upon. If he would’ve gone, they would have taken hockey away. Is he a member of the NHLPA? DON’T TREAD ON ME!

  • Mister Mister

    It’s interesting when so-called “conservatives” and all tea-baggers complain about the federal government taking away their “freedom”, yet have no problem with the feds preventing gays from getting married and the FCC telling us what we can’t say on the airwaves. These are the same people who are paying the lowest federal tax rates since Hoover and receive more social security and medicare benefits than ever, yet complain about Obama socialism. To them, hypocrite is a Greek philosopher.

  • fairway

    The critics of Thomas’s behavior and statement need to get their heads of their respective anal canals and go to some serious web sites and get out of this toy store; and that includes me.

  • fairway

    Correction: “heads out of—“


    Will we ever be free to fly to Newt’s moon base?

  • Ralph/ Cash Beardsley

    Tom Thomas- check in with me on Nov. 7th when Obama has been re- elected- and folks like you will be out on your ledges- how about a gentleman’s bet- say $10,000?

  • Mully's Son's Haircut

    This board is funny…

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