Why Doug Adler’s ESPN Lawsuit Matters

By | 2018-10-05T22:26:46+00:00 October 6th, 2018|
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

While the nation has been absorbed by the show trial of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, an actual trial is gearing up to start in Los Angeles that will have major implications for free speech and political correctness.

Doug Adler, longtime tennis commentator, was providing commentary at the Australian Open in January 2017 for ESPN. He was calling Venus Williams’ match at the Open when—in admiration of her method of attacking the net—Adler used the phrase “guerrilla” tactic, meaning ambush. It is a common tennis term and Venus Williams has been one of the most successful in employing the play.

What should have been a completely unremarkable event became a social media firestorm. Many were offended by this seeming, at least to their ignorant ears, obvious and appalling racial slur. How dare this commentator compare Venus Williams to a gorilla? He was most certainly engaged in a racist insult and his scalp was called for in the most vociferous terms. The tennis world was noticeably silent; Venus Williams herself refused comment when asked about Adler’s remark.

As usual, the ignorance of the offended knows no bounds. The term “guerilla” refers to warfare and first appeared during the Napoleonic Wars. When France invaded Spain, Napoleon had overwhelming numbers and the only way the Spanish could continue to fight was to employ tactics that they called guerrilla strategy. The Spanish word “guerrilla” is the diminutive form of “guerra” (“war”)—it literally means “little war.” Maybe they think the word ”gorilla” comes from the Spanish “guerra” or “guerilla”? Perhaps Adler just switched the words, meaning the same thing? Not quite. In fact, not even close. “Guerilla” has nothing to do with simians. The noun “gorilla,” is from Greek gorillai, plural of a name given to wild, hairy beings. It is a Greek translation of Carthaginian navigator Hanno’s account of his voyage along the northwest coast of Africa, in 500 B.C.

The term guerilla tactic is so common in tennis that Nike, the current paragon of social and cultural virtue, used it in a very popular ad campaign during the 1995 U.S. Open tournament. The commercial, starring Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, was called the Guerilla Tennis ad and sold a lot of sneakers. No offense was taken there it seems.

Of course none of this mattered to ESPN. For years ESPN has been bending to the winds of political correctness, firing or censoring commentators who strayed from the party line while allowing other commentators to get away from making outrageous, and actual racial, comments;  Jemele Hill being one of the best examples.

To showcase the grand hypocrisy of ESPN during the 2018 NBA playoffs, Steve Harvey in an ESPN on air interview actually called the Golden State Warriors “gorillas.” As in African apes. And yet, not a word of outcry or protest followed these comments. ESPN stayed silent.

That the once outstanding sports network would fall prey to the Left’s Orwellian speech codes is a great shame. Even worse, the network is now in the business of destroying lives, all to stay pure in the eyes of the Left and their mind-numbed young robots who happen to occupy the demographic ESPN seeks to hold.

So, what happened to Doug Adler? First, his ESPN bosses demanded that he apologize for his remarks. They claimed if he would just apologize, everything would be fine and he would remain in good standing with the network. So threatened, Adler apologized. He stated that he “simply and inadvertently chose the wrong word to describe her play.” He certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone. For whatever reason, ESPN decided that Adler’s scalp was still required to satisfy their hordes, so he was fired anyway. From there, Adler’s life began to unravel.

Being fired and branded a racist shook his life to the core, causing incredible emotional and physical stress. Shortly after his firing,  Adler suffered a heart attack and almost died. His career was over; the public shame of being labeled a racist ruined him.

Adler is no stranger to the impact of racial slurs and discrimination. Being Jewish and growing up in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles, Adler often encountered anti-Semitic remarks as a child. As he recently stated in an interview, things were said to him that he could not bring himself to mention today. One takeaway from listening to Doug Adler is that he is a thoughtful and sensitive person who was deeply offended and hurt by being labeled a racist.

But Alder is also a fighter and he decided to fight to restore his good name and reputation. He filed a lawsuit against ESPN and the trial is scheduled to begin in Los Angeles on October 15. ESPN has shown itself to be worse than cowards and my guess is they will frantically try and settle to avoid the bad publicity.

But for Doug Adler, the lawsuit isn’t about money; it is about restoring his reputation and good name.

For those of us in the wider culture subject to political correctness and speech codes, the case is about restoring sanity, free speech, and respect for decency. And, as in the case with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, we must hope that this trial can be a turning point in stopping the Left’s politics of personal destruction that is laying waste to the lives of good men and women.

Photo Credit: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for ESPN

About the Author:

Michael Finch
Michael Finch is the president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles. He is the author of Finding Home.