One mini-controversy, eclipsed by that surrounding the QBE (Queer Bash E-mails), concerns the remarks of baseball coach Dave Barnard. The Record summarized the dispute with:

Several members of the community have expressed disappointment over comments Dave Barnard, head coach of baseball, made two weeks ago on a local radio show concerning the effect of Latin culture and “machismo” on professional baseball.

Barnard made the comments during an appearance on The Opinion Show broadcasted by North Adams’ WMNB 100.1 FM. On the show, he offered his views on the fights between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox that occurred in game three of the American League Championship Series.

“I have to say… I think some of this is cultural,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it involves Latin players, same thing in the Florida game [where Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa pointed his bat at Florida Marlins pitcher Josh Beckett after being thrown a high and inside pitch]. It’s a cultural thing with Latin players in terms of the machismo thing… It’s a cultural thing with Latin players on their territory, and that kind of stuff.”

Unsurprisingly, these sentiments failed to resonate with VISTA, the student Latino organization. VISTA’s statement, as published in the Record, argues that:

Latino students are deeply hurt and infuriated by these comments. Coach Barnard has violated community standards and his racist remarks should not go unchecked. We feel that Coach Barnard should recognize the error of his statements and formally apologize to the community at large.

The entire statement really deserves a thorough “Fisking” — blog-talk for point-by-point rebuttal — but that will have to await another day. It is interesting to see that Barnard shows no inclination to back down. His own statement in the Record argues that:

To suggest that cultural or sociological explanations of pitcher/batter confrontations shouldn’t be discussed because an individual or group may take offense, runs contrary to the ideals of the college learning experience. The well-respected Harvard political science professor, Harvey Mansfield, had it right when he stated in a 1991 article entitled, “Political Correctness and the Suicide of the Intellect,” “The purpose of academic freedom is to further inquiry, inquiry means being more aware, not being more sensitive…… Giving and taking offense is especially inappropriate to a campus. It is perhaps part of politics but certainly not part of inquiry.”

For those seriously interested in studying the relationship between baseball and Latin culture, I welcome the opportunity to discuss, inquire and learn.

Read: Screw you, VISTA.


Barnard’s entire statement merits a closer reading, but not today.

On the one hand, I couldn’t be more pleased that the College’s baseball coach is a serious and intelligent individual (Wesleyan, ’81) who clearly knows how to write and argue. On the other hand, I worry that, instead of encouraging Barnard to participate in the intellectual life of the College, the first instinct of Williams’ administrators is to tell him to shut the heck up. How else should we interpret this tidbit from the Record article?

Bill Lenhart, dean of the faculty, said he had a “frank exchange” with Barnard about his comments. “Balancing the fundamental values of respect and freedom of expression is a challenge for all communities, including ours,” Lenhart said.

We’re all for “frank exchange” here at the Williams Blog, but in any balancing act between “respect” and “freedom of expression,” we have to come down on the side of the latter.

Print  •  Email