Actor Tim Robbins Ignores Real Threat to Free Expression

(Image via Wikipedia, CC BY SA 2.0)

Tim Robbins made headlines in 2003 when the Baseball Hall of Fame wouldn’t allow the actor to appear at a 15th-anniversary event for his sports smash “Bull Durham.”


Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey said Robbins’ anti-war rhetoric shaped his decision.

“We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important — and sensitive — time in our nation’s history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our President and our troops in this conflict.”

Robbins returned fire by warning that free speech was under attack.

“These kind of bullying, intimidating tactics have no place in democracy,” Robbins said, “and certainly no place in baseball. I’m still wondering what kind of message they were sending me and anybody else who happens to disagree with this president.”

That theme proved popular among high-profile liberals of the era. Bush’s America threatened free speech, pointing to Robbins’ cancellation and red state dismay over the Dixie Chicks for criticizing the president on foreign soil.

Meanwhile, virtually every major Hollywood player teed off on President George W. Bush during his eight years in office. One studio even made a film depicting Bush’s assassination. Free expression remained very much alive despite the fears of Robbins and his colleagues.


More recently, the actor hit on a similar theme during an appearance at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Robbins, on hand to collect the festival’s Crystal Globe Award, said such events serve a valuable purpose in modern culture.

“Film Festivals are one of the last places that you can see unfiltered, unchecked, raw expressions of the world we live in rather than things that have to pass a mass market filter … film festivals have this shred of light in them that give me hope that new voices can be heard, that new artists can emerge out of these celebrations of film.”

He’s right and so very wrong.

Yes, mass market concerns drive what we see at the multiplex. Movies cost tens of millions to create and market, so studios eager to recoup their costs appeal to a wider swath of moviegoers. That means some rough edges may be sanded down along the way.

The Web, however, offers near-unfettered access to virtually any voice or opinion. Only political correctness is crushing creativity online and in other media. Facebook is censoring the Declaration of Independence. Filmmakers are hiring “woke” experts to make sure their R-rated comedies don’t offend liberal snowflakes.


YouTube repeatedly puts restrictions on conservative content, ensuring fewer and fewer people are exposed to their thoughts and creativity.

Voices on campus are being shut down across the nation. And, more recently, a film about Roe v. Wade is being repeatedly attacked. Meanwhile, liberal bullies are intimidating members of the Trump administration in public for daring to work on the president’s behalf.

Has Robbins addressed this issue with the media? Has any reporter quizzed him about it? Wouldn’t it be great if a star like the Oscar winner, a staunch free speech advocate, could address any of these issues happening in 2018?


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