In case you haven't heard, Tampa Bay goaltender Dan Ellis started quite a firestorm this week. He complained openly about the salary decreases he and other NHL players could face this season and compared the specialized skills of a professional goaltender to the professional skills of heart surgeons.
Bad analogies aside, Ellis' statements were no doubt honest and legitimate from his own perspective. Unfortunately for him, most of us don't share the perspective of a professional athlete with a six-figure salary. In fact, most of us are dead fucking broke these days. Even if we still have a job, chances are the majority of us are getting paid the same or less than we were a few years ago, due to ongoing wage stagnation and an ever-increasing cost-of-living that never seems to slow down.
This isn't an economics lecture, though, so I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that a large segment of Ellis' audience on Twitter didn't empathize with his "struggles." Immediately, the mockery began, resulting in a Twitter meme called "DanEllisProblems" that was both vindictive and hilarious. It ultimately resulted in Ellis getting extremely butthurt and quitting Twitter altogether. A good summary of what happened (and Puck Daddy's totally-exaggerated role in all of it) is here.
I wouldn't be adding my two cents to this topic if Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater hadn't also done so. Since he's the Denver sports godfather, and we're the resident basement-dwelling nitpickers, it's my duty to point out the faults of his position. Essentially, Dater blames Ellis' critics for being "the thought police" and heinously driving the poor, millionaire goaltender away from social media. Other Ellis defenders have taken a similar tact, accusing Puck Daddy and other critics of infringing on Ellis' rights, silencing his unique voice and otherwise stomping on his face with an iron boot for daring to utter something they disagree with.
All of this is ridiculous, of course. Dan Ellis is absolutely free to post anything he wants about his salary, his profession, or his career on his (defunct) Twitter account. No amount of criticism or backlash can stop that. The threat of receiving criticism or mockery for something you write is not, in any way, an infringement on your right to free speech. You may be a whiny titty baby and buckle the second somebody calls you out for sounding like a pampered douche bag (even if that's not what you intended to sound like), but your rights have not been trampled upon.
A similar situation happened recently when "Dr." Laura Schlessinger repeatedly used the N-word on live radio in response to a caller's request for advice on how to handle racism in her own multi-racial family. The immediate outcry and criticism that followed hurt Laura's poor little feelings and she decided to take her ball and go home. She canceled her own show, and claimed that her freedom of speech had been stolen by her critics.
I'm not sure at what point this became unclear, but the freedom of speech conferred by the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents across the world (and generally acknowledged by the Amero-centric Internet) is not infringed the second somebody disagrees with you. You are not free from being disagreed with. Ellis silenced his own voice, nobody did it for him. Not Puck Daddy, not his critics on Twitter, and not anybody else.