The president of baseball’s Hall of Fame canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of the movie Bull Durham scheduled for April 26-27 at Cooperstown. Dale Petroskey, a former assistant press secretary in the Reagan administration, wrote a letter Monday to actor Tim Robbins, who played rising star pitcher Nuke LaLoosh in the movie, saying the actor’s “very public criticism of President Bush … helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger.”
- “I donated the uniform I wore to the hall,” Robbins said. “Man, what an honor that was. Now I just hope it’s there the next time I get back.”
….Until then, Robbins and Susan Sarandon, his co-star in the movie and longtime companion, had intended to take their sons to the anniversary celebration. While there, Robbins planned to look in on the uniform, part of the hall’s “Baseball in the Movies” exhibit. Now they won’t be going anywhere near the place.
….”These kind of bullying, intimidating tactics have no place in democracy,” Robbins said, “and certainly no place in baseball. I’m still wondering what kind of message they were sending me and anybody else who happens to disagree with this president.” [AP]
I think Robbins’ politics are naive, foolish and just plain wrong on almost everything, especially the war. I also think celebrities get too much play for their views from a self-serving press. BUT, Robbins is entitled to his views, is entitled to express them to whoever will listen, and to cancel a celebration of a work of art to which Robbins is only one of many contributors is heavy-handed and dictatorial.
This isn’t even like the Laura Bush/poets fiasco where the White House canceled a poetry sympoium because some of the poets had announced they were using it as an anti-war forum. The cancellation was foolish but at least understandable from the standpoint that the poets had threatened to speak against the war in that setting.
Robbins said he had no intention of saying anything about politics at the Bull Durham celebration, in fact he wasn’t even scheduled to speak, so this cancellation wasn’t to prevent anything untoward from happening, but to punish Robbins simply for what he believes.
This is wrong on every level: it is not Petroskey’s place to connect baseball with a particular political position, nor to preemptively politicize a nonpolitical event under the guise of “supporting the troops,” nor to punish someone for what he believes, and to top it all off, the publicity from this action does nothing but draw further attention to Robbins’ anti-war position. It doesn’t get much more stupid than this.