Kent State Wrestler Suspended for Anti-Gay Tweets, So Of Course Free Speech Is Once Again Under Assault

    February 11, 2014
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Here’s your daily reminder that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

Kent State wrestler Sam Wheeler has been suspended indefinitely for making several anti-gay statements on Twitter. Like clockwork, this is bringing out the armchair constitutional lawyers who claim that this is an all-out assault on free speech. Duck Dynasty. #FreePhil.

“I though we had free speech would they supend a gay person if they made anti christian or post about straght people,” says one commenter on FOX Sports Ohio’s Facebook page.

“What ever happened to freedom of speech! Isn’t this American! Why are we being forced to accept things we may not agree with! Who cares what you do behind closed doors, keep your sex life to yourself!” says another commenter.

Ok, let’s take a look at what Sam Wheeler actually said. Referencing Missouri’s Michael Sam, who just announced that he is gay ahead of the NFL draft, Wheeler lamented that he can’t even watch SportsCenter without hearing about “that fag from mizzou.” He later tweeted at two other users, calling them “queers.”

“O geez I got all these fag boys mad at me now,” he said.

All of the tweets (as well as his entire account) has since been deleted. But this is the internet, so here they are (courtesy outragedc.com):

Free speech!

Wheeler has been suspended indefinitely for his tweets.

“We are aware of the insensitive tweets by one of our student athletes. On behalf of Kent State University, we consider these comments to be ignorant and not indicative of the beliefs held by our university community as a whole. This is an educational opportunity for all of our student-athletes,” said Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen.

“As an alum of Kent State University and as Sam’s head coach, I was surprised and offended by what I read on Twitter. I have spoken to Sam personally, and while he is remorseful, he will be suspended indefinitely while we determine the best course of action moving forward,” said his coach, Jim Andrassy.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. Maybe it’s like Beetlejuice – we all say it three times and it just pops into every brain on the internet.

Let’s remember what we’re all screaming about, shall we?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So–until Congress decides to act on Sam Wheeler’s shitty, hateful sentiments, or we find Sam Wheeler rotting away in jail for calling someone a queer on Twitter, let’s lighten up on all the free speech talk, ok?

This is America. He’ll be ok. I’m sure he’ll have a reality show on A&E before year’s end.

Image via Kent State Athletics, Facebook

  • WhatAParadox

    Hey, at least Franco inquired about the 1st amendment. Progress.

    • joshgwolf

      Hah. There's hope!

  • Dedee Clancey

    If you made less than five grand last month you need to see the report jobszzdotcom

    • tbone

      what if I didn't?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz PolishBear


    No one can force you to "accept" anything. No one is going to make you marry another man or attend a Gay wedding. You can go ahead and wallow in your own prejudices until the cows come home for all I care.

    But I have to wonder where that prejudice comes from. Was it taught to you by your parents? Were you bullied or mistreated by someone who was Gay? People aren't born with this kind of bigotry. Where does it come from?

    • Sam

      The Bible you moron.

  • Jack

    PS, the First Amendment applies to all government entities, including public, state universities. So let's lighten up on pretending you know anything about the Constitution, ok?

    • GentlyWaftingCurtains

      There is that.

    • Corrie

      Last i checked, being funded by the government doesn't make you a government entity.

      Besides, the schools aren't passing laws that prohibit freedom of speech anyways, so your argument is moot.

      • kevin72132003

        Generally, a state university is a governmental entity. A governmental entity which punishes a person for their speech may have violated the First Amendment.

  • kirby76

    You can repeat "Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences" unto the end of time, but it doesn't resolve the internal contradiction: if there are consequences then it ISN'T free. And sometimes it isn't supposed to be; you don't have 'free speech' rights to start yelling in a library, for example. But the point is, if you can be punished for speech then it's idiotic to say your right to speak hasn't been curtailed.
    And as Jack pointed out below, the idea that free speech can only be unconstitutionally abridged by Congress went out with…let's see…the 14th Amendment?
    In a university setting speech rights are balanced by competing interests in a way they aren't in the ordinary public square. Did this guy's speech legitimately cross the line? Questions like that are what keep lawyers and pundits and the ACLU busy, but at least frame the issue accurately.

    • Norps

      Then you don't have freedom of speech by your definition. Freedom of speech is freedom from the government punishing you for your speech, and it is not limitless, as countless times everyone who has attended High School has heard. There are, and have always been consequences to speech. You just can't be locked up for it. It is no different than someone who called their boss a prick can be fired.

      • kirby76

        The difference is that this is a public university and the First Amendment does apply there as it doesn't in a private business (or private college) The Supreme Court has been clear about that since the 1970's. Not ALL speech is protected, any more than all of my speech or yours is protected ("Fire!" in a crowded theater, yada yada)
        Student speech also has narrower protections than you and I have. Courts have ruled in favor of students wearing anti-gay T-shirts on campus, but the rulings have also said the shirt wouldn't be protected speech if it the message contained threats or outright slurs (a point relevant in this case, obviously) But when the student speech IS protected the speaker can't suffer any official "consequences", including suspension. Free speech rights can be unconstitutionally abridged even if you aren't sent to jail.

  • William

    Kind of funny coming from a guy who rolls around with other dudes in tights.