The Baseball Hall of Fame recently disinvited Hollywood couple Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon and cancelled its celebration to honor the 15th anniversary of the movie "Bull Durham." Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey, the former assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, feared a divisive and uncomfortable Robbins/Sarandon speech injected with their antiwar sentiments.
"I am here," said Sarandon last year at an antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., "because I am tired of being frightened to speak out! We have been told that you are either with us or against us. That to ask a question is anti-American, divisive. Mr. Bush, you have hijacked our pain, our loss, our fear, and you have convinced many that to fight pre-emptively is the only way to protect our democracy. I say to you, Mr. Bush, this is what democracy looks like!"
Prior to the disinvitation, in an interview with CNN's Connie Chung, Robbins said, "There's ultimately going to be a tragic loss in the amount of people dying from this horrible attack. . . . We're not getting our way there. But we have to be mature, and we have to realize that the world does not want us to do this. . . . I support free speech, and you can't have free speech . . . in a society or even in a club, if it's Hollywood, that is saying you can't talk. . . . That's not a free society. You have to allow it. Democracy's messy sometimes."
After Robbins/Sarandon's Hall of Fame disinvitation, Robbins addressed the National Press Club (not bad for a victim of allegedly suppressed speech): "Any instance of intimidation of free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence to intimidation, at this point, will only lead to more intimidation. . . . Millions are watching and waiting in mute frustration and hope, hoping for someone to defend the spirit and letter of our Constitution and to defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism. . . . We must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us. Like freedom, the First Amendment, and, yes, baseball." Spirit and letter of our Constitution?
Were Petroskey's fears justified? (He later apologized.) Well, Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post wrote an article in which he said that Susan Sarandon's mother accused Sarandon and Robbins of "indoctrinating" her grandson with their leftist views. A snarling Robbins confronted Grove at a party and said, "If you ever write about my family again, I will (bleeping) find you and I will (bleeping) hurt you."