Paul Shirley, a professional basketball player and contributor to ESPN was fired yesterday for a blog post in which he discussed the realities of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. (If You Rebuild It, They Will Come, by Paul Shirley 1-26-10).
As a critic of Haitian aid myself, I can understand what a deluge of hate-mail Shirley and ESPN must have received after this blog went live. Haiti hysteria is easy to come by these days, despite the level of rationality expressed in the blog post itself.
So what did he say that's so horrible? Well, for starters he says that he won't be contributing to Haiti because it's an expensive waste of time:
1. "If it were apparent that Haiti would likely rebuild in an earthquake-resistant way, and if a cure could be found for hurricane abuse of island nations, then maybe one could imagine putting a sustained effort into rebuilding the place. But that would only be feasible if the country had shown any ability to manage its affairs in the past, which it has not done."
2. "...it is not outside the realm of imagination to think that the citizens of a country might be able to: A) avoid putting themselves into a situation that might result in such catastrophic loss of life. And B) provide for their own aid, in the event of such a catastrophe."
This is what really has the compassion police foaming at the mouth: in his blog Shirley pens an open letter to the Haitian people, asking them a few questions.
First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.
As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it's possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?
The Rest of the World
Sarcasm aside, is there really anything in here that is so inaccurate? Of course not.
The only thing I take issue with is Shirley's suggestion that if people find themselves in a dangerous place (like say, a fault line or a coastal city under sea level) they should leave. That's a rational idea on its face, Shirley, but let's leave southern Florida out of this. Maybe they shouldn't go home, but they sure can't come here.
Reprimand ESPN for their cowardice here.