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Paul Shirley To Haiti: Go Help Yourself (UPDATE)

Onetime baller, sometime music critic and all-around man of letters Paul Shirley has published his thoughts on the stricken Haitian people. Namely, that they put themselves in this mess, so he's not about to help. This may not end well.

Shirley, who's written for this website in the past, published an essay at FlipCollective today. He vows not to donate to the Haiti relief efforts, likening it to giving a dollar to a homeless man: "I don't think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either."


Here's an excerpt, in the form of a hypothetical message from the world to Haiti, as they pour in their millions of dollars.

Dear Haitians –

First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it's possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?


The Rest of the World

I could pick and choose excerpts, as some already have, because there are a ton of statements here that devoid of context, could hoist him by his own petard.

Instead I'll urge you to read the entire thing, which does the same job quite nicely. Shirley's really an accomplished writer (aside from one unfortunate comparison of Haitians to cavemen), and his argument unfolds in a logical progression, if not containing much logic. And here's the thing: because it's all opinion, nothing he says is provably false.

But when you blame victims, you're sure to make enemies. Some are calling for ESPN to fire him (we've put in an inquiry to ESPN about this). Others dismiss his entire body of work because of this. SI's Seth Davis just flat out called him "a dumbass."


We've contacted Shirley about this but have yet to receive a response, so we can only speculate to his motivations. He does write in the piece that his viewpoint makes him "part of a miniscule[sic] minority," showing he's not so far divorced from reality so as not to know the offense he would provoke. He's responding to critics on Twitter, if just to dismiss them.

One expects the criticism won't be dismissed so easily.

(UPDATE: ESPN's Comment from Josh Krulewitz: "He was a part-time freelance contributor. The views he expressed on another's site of course do not at all reflect our company's views on the Haiti relief efforts. He will no longer contribute to ESPN.")


Shirley was a freelancer so, technically, he wasn't fired over this. He's merely shifted to "no longer welcome" status.

If You Rebuild It, They Will Come [FlipCollective]

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