Day Tripper

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the plight of Brittney Griner, an American basketball player who is currently being held in a Russian prison facility.

Some people in the United States are laughing about Griner’s plight. More about that in a moment.

Griner, 32, is a formidable athlete who plays for the WNBA here in the United States and took a playing gig with a Russian basketball team during the off-season. On Feb. 17, Griner was arrested at a Russian airport and charged with drug possession, a crime that could land her a 10-year sentence in Russia.

Last week, Griner plead guilty to the charges, a move her lawyers say was necessary if she wanted to avoid a lengthy prison term. Allegedly, Griner was in possession of several vaping supplies, including cannabis oil. (For my readers over 25, cannabis is what we called marijuana back in the day)

(Photo: Boston Globe)

Griner, her wife and millions of Americans have been pleading, begging and cajoling U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden, to intervene on her behalf and help get her out of jail.

So, why do some Americans (mostly conservatives) think it’s amusing that Griner is sitting in a Russian jail?

Well, I — and more than 250 billion other people — don’t watch WNBA games, but according to several media outlets, Griner refused to stand and place her hand over her heart during the playing of the National Anthem at a basketball game in 2020.

Griner’s critics say she is a hypocrite, one day “bashing” the United States, and then begging for the U.S. government to get her out of jail.

Before we go any further, let me say that I think Griner’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem was boorish behavior. But that’s just my opinion, and here in the United States you can share your opinion without any fear of the government.

In America, you are free to express your opinion, even if it doesn’t align with the majority. In America, you can openly criticize the government. Not so much in many other nations.

This is what I believe makes America great, the true diversity of our populace, including a diversity of opinions. In America, you should not be forced or compelled in any way to stand for the National Anthem.

That said, I think you should be polite and stand for the Anthem, even if you’re angry with the government, but your freedom trumps my opinion.

A few weeks ago, I saw a pick-up truck driving down Main Street in Saco. The truck was decorated with two large American flags and a large sign that read: “Fuck Biden.”

What do you think would happen if you drove through Moscow with a giant sign that read: “Fuck Putin?” Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

On the other side of the political aisle, many Democrats are angry that Biden is not doing more to get Ms. Griner back home. Some people have even opined that if were Tom Brady instead of Brittney Griner, Brady would be back in plenty of time for his 247th season with the NFL.

Is it because Griner is Black? Is it because Griner is a lesbian? Is it because she plays for the WNBA instead of the much more popular NFL? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

I think Putin is really angry with the U.S. right now, and that he is going to do whatever it takes to exploit this issue.

In closing, I think Brittney Griner should be released immediately from jail. I also think she should stand the next time she hears the National Anthem, but that’s her decision and her right. Freedom means that she gets to make that choice.

3 thoughts on “Day Tripper

  1. You insinuate that the US government may not be doing enough to have Griner released because “… Griner is Black? Is it because Griner is a lesbian? Is it because she plays for the WNBA” But if the Biden administration does negotiate her release, what about all the other Americans still languishing is Russian jails? Are they being ignored because; They are not Black? Because they are not gay?
    Because they are not a woman athlete?

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    1. Hi Ted,

      Thanks for your feedback. Actually, if you go back and carefully read the post you will see that I raised the questions coming from many of Griner’s supporters and then answered, “I don’t think so,” before stating my belief that Griner is languishing in jail simply because of Putin’s political strategy.

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  2. Good column, Randy, as usual. And yes, the government of the United States should be prepared to do all it can to protect its citizens abroad, even those it might deem insufficiently obsequious. If Tucker Carlson were snatched off the street in Moscow by the KGB I’d hope they kept him for awhile, but I would want the US to try mightily to get him back, despite what I consider his appalling, deceitful, and cynical media presence. The shoe is always eventually going to find itself on the other foot.

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