Doc writes today about WDR Hero "Chris" who has worn his "FIRE BRATKOWSKI" to PBS for three years. While the details are vague, Chris was asked the leave the Bills game for allegedly "waving [the shirt] in people's faces," an herculean feat conisdering he was wearing it at the time. And the guy who threw out Chris for his clearly BLACK shirt? None other than suspiciously named Nick WHITECOTTON.
I'll let Doc take it from here:
Here’s why it matters. Here’s a lesson the club has fumbled on numerous occasions over years of mostly losing:
Their collective voice matters beyond the ballot box, where they spoke loudly to pay for your stadium. Their voice is relevant beyond the turnstiles, where they’ve chirped incessantly in your favor, to the tune of 57 consecutive sellouts, a streak broken just two weeks ago.
It isn’t that a guy says he was asked to leave PBS because he was displaying improperly a T-shirt. It’s that the issue ever came up.
“What did I do wrong?:” Chris asked, not unreasonably.
In this corner, we have Chris, whose family has had Bengals season tickets since there was a season. All the way back to ’68. Chris, who went to the Freezer Bowl at age 7, with his uncle. Who has had season tickets of his own since 1999.
In that corner, we have the Bengals and their hired security outfit, who judged Chris to be unruly and a disturber of the fan-friendly peace.
Here: Chris, who says he and his father “bonded’’ at Bengals games when Chris was a child; Chris, who says “to not renew (tickets) would be very painful.”
There: The Bengals, whose security arm shows Chris the gate.
Does a 2-9 team with a reputation for fan-unfriendliness need to be perceived as stifling the free speech of a long-time customer?
If a guy wants to display a FIRE BOB BRATKOWSKI shirt, by wearing it or waving it or running up his personal flag pole, he should be permitted that bit of civil disobedience. We’d give the Bengals the benefit of the doubt here, only they haven’t earned it. They’re not strangers to quashing dissent. Banners judged to be “negative’’ frequently are torn down at Paul Brown Stadium.
The team too often acts in a manner consistent with its entitlements. It leads with its head, not with its heart. If its fans believe ownership to be unresponsive to their wishes, it’s only because ownership gives them good reason.