UFC Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey, received criticism last week when she tweeted, “Extremely interesting video, it’s a must watch…” She then posted a link to a YouTube video purporting that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.
Ronda has since deleted the tweet and her manager has issued an apology.
The criticism is that she is a professional athlete and a big-time ambassador for MMA, especially women’s MMA, and the video could be deemed as insensitive, and therefore damaging to her sport and her reputation.
A panel of MMA experts discussed the incident yesterday on The MMA Beat – a web show headed by notorious MMA reporter Ariel Helwani. One of the speakers on the panel, Chuck Mindenhall , was disappointed with Rousey’s action and thought it was not only insulting to the people affected by the Sandy Hook shooting, but also to her sport. He referred to her action as a mistake, an absent-minded blunder, and implied that she made an error in judgement. The other members of the panel were a little more forgiving, but the general consensus was that she was in the wrong.
I disagree with the criticism, and I think there is at least four reasons why she is not in the wrong.
The first reason is that Ronda Rousey was not campaigning that the Sandy Hook incident was a hoax, she merely watched a video and thought it was interesting and decided to pass it along. You cannot deny someone the freedom to do that, nor can you reprimand her for what she thinks is interesting. The fact that she is a celebrity and an ambassador to a sport is, in my opinion, irrelevant.
The second reason is that Ronda lives in California and cannot be expected to know about everything issue that comes across her radar. The hoax video was put together the same way the actual news report was put together – a compilation of moving images spliced together with a narrative. She learned about the incident either through the TV, the internet, read something, or heard about it through someone – the point is, she relied on others for the information. How is she supposed to know the truth without launching her own investigation? She does not live anywhere near Sandy Hook and relies on other sources to give her information. When something is packaged in a certain way, it is not always easy to decipher the truth from the lie. Again, Ronda never said she believed it, just thought it was “interesting.”
The third reason directly addresses the claim that her tweet could be damaging to the sport or her reputation. Ronda Rousey is a professional cage fighter. She talks a lot of trash, never shys away from being controversial and speaks her mind, and her fans love her for it. Speaking her mind is what fans appreciate and that will only translate into more attraction when she fights.
Finally, even if the Sandy Hook shooting wasn’t a hoax, she was still not wrong because the suppression of opinions is never a good idea. Discussing false views creates an open discussion where the truth can emerge more clearly. History is riddled with examples of unpopular claims that turned out to be true. By chastising her, it only acts to suppress truth and kill free-market discussions. Political philosopher John Stuart Mill said it best in his famous book, On Liberty, when he said:
Article by Edward Mullen
Host of The Edward Mullen Podcast