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Curt Schilling’s anti-transgender meme might have pushed ESPN too far this time

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling may have really gotten under his bosses’ skin this time. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

Update: Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN Wednesday evening for “unacceptable” conduct. (Read More)

ESPN pays Curt Schilling to observe and offer his considered opinions and analysis.

The problem the company is now wrestling with is what to do about a baseball analyst who continues to offer controversial opinions on a variety of polarizing social and political topics that have very little to do with a baseball diamond. Some of those opinions may differ from the company’s official stance, but he does have the right to an opinion.

In the latest controversy involving the former pitcher, Schilling is drawing attention for sharing a Facebook meme about transgendered people and expressing his opinion on the so-called bathroom law.

Schilling was sharing someone else’s message, but he made his feelings clear in a comment beneath the post.

“A man is a man no matter what they call themselves,” Schilling wrote. “I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis , women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

Schilling defends sharing an anti-transgender meme

ESPN, a company owned by the publicly-traded Disney, has a policy of promoting inclusiveness. “We are taking this matter very seriously,” Josh Krulewitz, ESPN’s vice president of communications, told The Post in an email Tuesday night, “and are in the process of reviewing it.”

Clearly, ESPN is in a difficult position and is taking its time deciding what, if anything, it should do about an employee who continues to generate headlines for expressing controversial personal opinions. Last month, it chose to do nothing when Schilling said that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “belongs under a jail somewhere.” In late August 2015, the network took Schilling off broadcasts when he shared a meme about Muslims and Nazis (though ESPN later brought him back for postseason games).

Richard Deitsch, who covers the media for Sports Illustrated, tweeted that he believes “there’s a likelihood we will see ESPN announce something on Curt Schilling in the next 48 hours.”

This time, the media giant’s reaction may be different. As Deitsch points out, ESPN can replace Schilling easily, even though he has been a strong baseball analyst. And Schilling would, no doubt, quickly find another job.

“I think Schilling has placed ESPN in a tough spot here. He knows how management feels and he’s pushed the envelope with them,” Deitsch tweeted. “He has every right to espouse his beliefs on his feeds. They in turn have a right to react to that re: putting him (or not) on the air. High-ranking ESPN execs have always told me that when a certain talent becomes too big a headache, that’s usually when the company reacts.”

In February, Schilling seemed to indicate that he was on thin ice. That’s when a $250 donation to the presidential campaign of Ben Carson became public and, in a filing to the Federal Election Commission obtained by CNN, he wrote “ESPN (Not Sure How Much Longer)” under the section “name of employer” and “Analyst (For Now Anyway)” for his occupation. The donation was dated Sept. 1, 2015 — a week after he was suspended for the Muslim comment.

Schilling seemingly questions his job security

In a Tuesday post on his blog, Schilling offered a lengthy explanation when his post about transgendered people and bathrooms drew criticism, writing that “this latest brew ha ha is beyond hilarious. I didn’t post that ugly looking picture. I made a comment about the basic functionality of men’s and women’s restrooms, period.”

I do NOT care what color you are, what race, what sex, who you sleep with, what you wear. I don’t care and I never have. I have opinions, but they’re just that, opinions. And opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one and they usually stink.
You know how I know you ‘offended’ people are full of crap? Because I’m not even close to any of the things you so desperately want me to be, so you can whine.
I’m loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I do, those and a billion other issues I know I have. Like everyone one of you I have flaws, but I’m ok with my flaws, they’re what make me, me. I thank the Lord for the life I’ve been given. A life interspersed and occupied by men and women who are gay, by people of all races and religions, by men and women who dress as the other, by men and women who’ve changed to women and men. Not one decision I’ve ever made about a person has anything to do with those things I just mentioned, nor will it ever.
You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for “tolerance” and “acceptance” while you refuse to do and be either.
YOU’RE the ones making it the issue. I don’t care, if you ask me about any of the topics it’s likely (much to the chagrin of many) I’ll answer with my opinion.

Now, we wait to see what ESPN decides.