There’s a Bob Dylan song called “Motorpsycho Nightmare” in which the narrator finds himself in a sticky situation with a crazy farmer’s daughter. To get out of it he needs the farmer to get mad at him and chase him out of the house. So he does the easiest thing to make that happen in early 1960s America:
Well, I couldn’t leave
Unless the old man chased me out
’Cause I’d already promised
That I’d milk his cows
I had to say something
To strike him very weird
So I yelled out
“I like Fidel Castro and his beard”
Rita looked offended
But she got out of the way
As he came charging down the stairs
Sayin’, “What’s that I heard you say?”
The farmer then threw a Reader’s Digest at him, took a swing at him and chased him out of the house calling him a “commie rat.”
I offer this only to suggest that, perhaps Ozzie Guillen doesn’t mean any of this stuff he said about Fidel Castro. Maybe he’s just living the plot to that song and he’s looking to escape something. Ozzie! Use the “Motorpsycho Nightmare” defense!
Probably doesn’t matter now, though. The original comments and the apology Guillen offered — he explains them in greater detail here — are now secondary to the narrative. All the oxygen of this thing is now consumed by official statements, displays of outrage and fun stuff like this:
A group of Cuban-American demonstrators plans to boycott the Miami Marlins as a result of manager Ozzie Guillen’s comment that he respects Fidel Castro. Vigilia Mambisa, headed by Miguel Saavedra, said it plans to begin a caravan of cars at SW 36th Avenue and 8th Street Tuesday that will culminate in front of the ballpark.
Context lacking from the article: that Vigilia Mambisa appears to be a somewhat marginal and extreme group that has been tied to violence in the past. Doesn’t matter! Someone has said they are boycotting and that sort of thing is always treated as a big deal even if it’s … not.
As are comments that don’t adhere to the mainstream sentiment about Fidel Castro when uttered in or around Miami.
Not that I’m suggesting that Guillen’s comments were smart. Far from it. There are fewer more idiotic things a public figure in Miami can do in life than to say anything about Castro other than “I hope he dies in the street like a dog.” It’s near-suicidal, in fact. The lesson of “Motorpsycho Nightmare” is that if the narrator didn’t have freedom of speech and the right to say crazy things like that, he’d be in big trouble. But freedom of speech has nothing to do with this. It’s just bad sense to attempt to say something like this, and Guillen should have known that.
But really: he didn’t say anything that a reasonable person could construe as actually complimentary about Castro, did he? He said this:
“I love Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother****** is still here.”
That’s Guillen trying to say something funny. One could say that and fully believe that Castro is a monster. He’s talking about his ability to avoid being knocked off by the mob and the CIA and nothing more. To think that it’s an actual endorsement of Castro takes a special kind of sensitivity. Especially when one recalls how critical Guillen has been of Hugo Chavez in the past.
But none of that matters. Partially because, as noted, that special kind of sensitivity exists regarding this subject in Miami, even if it’s for understandable reasons. And partially because this story is now totally out of Guillen’s control.
Now the Outrage Industrial Complex has taken over. Groups like Vigilia Mambisa, who will use this a means of getting some easy press. Organizations like the Miami Marlins who, out of sheer fear, will run for cover rather than do what they probably should do: roll their eyes at Ozzie’s Guillen’s bad judgment and then move along with their day.