A version of this column appeared originally in THE DAILY BEAST.
In a range of different realms, prominent people fell victim recently to their own controversial comments and associations, illustrating the application of political correctness at both its most appropriate and most oppressive.
In the world of Grand Opera, a Russian bass-baritone got bounced at the last moment from a crucial starring role when news footage revealed a huge swastika tattooed across his brawny chest.
At the Olympics, the Greek team banned the participation of a controversial (and, not co-incidentally, very beautiful) triple jumper because she tweeted disrespectfully about African immigrants in her homeland.
And in the arena of fast food franchises, political leaders in two of the nation's major cities threatened to block chicken-sandwich outlets because the company’s owner expressed his disapproval of redefining marriage.
These more-or-less simultaneous episodes of public figures plunging recklessly into hot water featured a number of common elements but enough significant differences to reach very different verdicts on the responses they provoked. Fairness and common sense argue that Bavarian opera authorities acted appropriately, Greek Olympic officials exercised faulty but defensible judgment, while self-righteous mayors of Chicago and Boston outrageously assaulted freedom of expression in order to score cheap political points.