Comedian and talk show host Bill Maher took aim at the Washington Commanders organization over the weekend in response to their decision to fine defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $100,000 for speaking his mind on Twitter.
Two weeks ago, Del Rio took to Twitter to ask why Congress was interested in holding hearings on the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, but didn’t seem at all interested in holding hearings on the months of violent BLM-led riots in the aftermath of George Floyd. murder.
Del Rio sought to explain his tweet to reporters the following week.
“I see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed. Businesses are being burned down,” Del Rio said in a since-deleted tweet. “No problem. And then we have a dust in the Capitol, where nothing has burned. And we’re going to make it a major deal.
The media leaned into Del Rio’s characterization of the Jan. 6 riot as “dust” and launched a social media campaign against the coach, ultimately resulting in commanders publicly castigating Del Rio in a lengthy statement and fined him $100,000.
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) June 10, 2022
In the statement, the commanders noted that Del Rio “has the right to express his opinion as a citizen of the United States and it is most certainly his constitutional right to do so.”
A statement that prompted Maher to say, “Don’t pee on my shoes and tell me it’s raining.”
HBO @BillMaher issues a $100,000 fine to Jack Del Rio. “He has the right to be wrong….Finalizing people for having an opinion. I don’t agree with that. Re coach Ron Rivera saying he has a constitutional right to speak his mind, “Don’t pee on my shoe and tell me it’s raining.” #Real time pic.twitter.com/o4yAc1grdJ
— Brent Baker 🇺 (@BrentHBaker) June 18, 2022
“He has the right to be wrong,” Maher said. “In America you have the right to be wrong. They fined him, the team fined him $100,000 for that opinion. Fine people for having an opinion. I’m not don’t agree with that.
Maher’s opinion was once an established fact. A person’s opinion may be entirely wrong, but the person always has the right to express it. Del Rio’s situation shows the terrifying turn our culture has taken in that a person, a coach in this case, cannot express a personal opinion without being fined by their employer.
At first, it looked like Del Rio had been fined for calling the 1/6 riot “dust.” However, after reading the commanders statement, it becomes abundantly clear that he was punished for his opinion on comparing the 1/6 hearing to the Floyd riots. Why else would the organization say that it “would not tolerate any equivalence between those who sought justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the actions of those on January 6 who sought to overthrow our government.”
The statement made it clear that they were punishing Del Rio for his opinion, not just calling the 1/6 riot “dust.”
Del Rio deleted his Twitter account after the announcement of the fine.