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Forrest Griffin rape comment on Twitter sparks speech debate between media and fans

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin recently won $5000 for having one of the "most creative" tweets as judged by the promotion's new Twitter contest. The rules are fairly simple: Dazzle your followers with humor and innovative tweets, score some cash.

On the heels of his winning performance, maybe Griffin felt it was time to up the ante. Or perhaps he had an error in judgement. Then again, maybe he just tried to be witty and bombed.

Whatever the case, his Nov. 8 tweet that read "Rape is the new missionary" went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

Probably not the best way to connect with your fans as the promotion gears up for its first-ever network television debut with UFC on FOX: "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos" on Nov. 12 in Anaheim, California. And the timing couldn't have been worse, now that most of the sports media is focused on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

Griffin, who promptly deleted the tweet when he was "unfollowed" by a fan, continues to receive a public spanking. Yahoo Sports called for a donation to a rape-victim charity, while Huffington Post got huffy and questioned the "Ultimate Fighter's" view on women.

Then there was this article by ESPN, which sparked a heated reaction from its readers:

It's doubtful there will be any major repercussions, even though he is a professional athlete representing the UFC. The rule of "don't go around saying dumb s---" is loosely interpreted. If it were the NFL, say, a slip up like that might banish him from the league. Remember when Kansas City running back Larry Johnson tweeted a homophobic slur towards a fan? It cost him $213,000 and not just his spot on the roster, but ultimately his standing in the NFL.

He's blowing on the house of cards he helped build, and historically he's been allowed to. But it'd be better if he just didn't.

The bottom line is that Dana White refuses to muzzle himself when he wants to get something off his chest, and he won't muzzle his fighters. This is usually refreshing, particularly when rote answers are a plague in other sports.

And yet, there are times when that sort of leeway is disastrous. If we were five years down the line, to the projected heights that White and Lorenzo Fertitta are taking the sport, tweets like that will carry too many associations. The kind that may hurt the brand image, and burn sponsorship bridges, and steal away control over careers. In short, a tweet like that could bring upon Griffin a profound feeling of the very verb that he treated so lightly.

Chuck Mindenhall's comments (above), from his article "Forrest Griffin leaves bad taste with Tweet," left an even worse taste with his readers.

Here's a sample of his feedback.

--This is the dumbest story i've read on here

--borrrrrriiinnnngggg. did a girl write this?

--well, i thought it was funny...

--hahahah i've notice a decline in intelligent articles on ESPN recently.

--A poor statement from a poor fighter.

--So he can long as his opinion is the same as the majority??? No Mindenhall, you dipsh*t! That's what's wrong with sports and American in general! You have freedom of speech, as long as it makes the majority happy!

--WAAA WAAA WAA, stop being so $@% pc. Forrest is the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

--society today is above and beyond ridiculously sensitive. there's a thing called FREEDOM OF SPEECH people! Get a clue Mindenhall

--Griffen sucks anyway, who cares. The guys is a middle of the pack fighter who gets paraded around by Dana like he's a top talent...except he's not.

--Chuck Mindenhall exhibits the "bad taste" with that hideous hat he's wearing

--WOW! This article was pointless. If you don't like what he says then don't follow him. He doesn't have to be or say what you want him to say. Seriously people there are better things to do then to $@%!$ about one guy post up. Like if Anderson Silva and Brock Lesner and even Jon Jones can get away with crap in the octagon than what ever Forrest Griffin says doesn't even matter.

--His comments were inappropriate and stupid but dont expect ANYONE here to believe that an NFL player would get kicked from the league for tweeting the same thing, that was a stupid comment Mindenhall, how about when Adrian Peterson likened being an NFL player to being a slave!? he didnt even get hit with fine

--Why don't people just relax!? This is the problem with social media. It just gets you in trouble whenever you open your mouth and voice your opinion on anything, no matter how right or wrong you are in the light of the media and fans. It's ruining society. You can't do or say anything anymore because someone is always watching and listening. I'm sure he doesn't beat his wife and doesn't think rape is cool. The jokes were in bad taste but it doesn't make him a bad guy.

--I think people (women especially) can be just a little too sensitive, way to often. Obviously he doesn't actually believe in any of the crazy or random things that he says...its just for a giggle. So to get offended just shows how poor of a sense of humor people (women) have. I love Forrest...he's a goofy dude, and these comments won't set him back any more than an $@%! whoopin by Anderson Silva did.

--This is not about women, or people being too sensitive in these times, this is about common sense and understanding the environment in which you choose to provide a position. I'm all about free speech, but you have to understand that there are going to be other opinions out there that may counter your own. I appreciate Forrest for being himself and sharing his views, but in the end sometimes those views may not be popular.

--Forrest Griffin is generally one of the classier fighters in the UFC. I agree with thedarkwingduck2k50.. too many blows to the head.. Those Bonnar fights probably cost them both many, many brain cells.

The general consensus among the media is that Forrest put his foot in his mouth, and should do more than just put himself on "Twitter restriction" for a week. The consensus among fans? Let him say what he wants and stop crucifying him for speaking his mind.

As with any debate, the pendulum swings both ways. Not every media outlet has condemned him, just like there are plenty of fans who don't support him.

Without turning this into mud-slinging contest, I'm wondering, which side of the argument do you fall on?

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