O'Reilly: Greeks get an Olympic medal for humorlessness
William F. B. O'ReillyWilliam F. B. O'Reilly
O'Reilly works as a corporate and political communications consultant. He
VideosOlympian's racist tweets
How many Irishmen does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
I'd tell you, but I still harbor Olympic ambitions. (I don't care what anyone says; competitive grilled-cheese eating is a sport.)
Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou should have shown similar restraint. She should have known that you can't say anything out of the political mainstream in sports today without paying a steep price. The athletic beauty tweeted a bad joke -- if you can call it that -- and it was curtains for her 2012 Olympic career before it began.
Papachristou, 23, was expelled from the Greek team days before she was scheduled to march into London's Olympic Stadium. Her fatal quip, made in response to an outbreak of the West Nile virus in Athens: "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!"
Apparently some people found that funny, which made it decidedly unfunny to the ears of Greece's humorless Olympic Committee. And that, as they say, was that. No quantity or quality of apologies from Papachristou were enough to save her. Amazing how badly you can screw up your life plans in 140 characters.
Papachristou spent years preparing for Olympic glory in London. She passed every physical test the Greek Olympic Committee could throw at her, but it was a philosophical one that tripped her up in the end. Papachristou stumbled on the political correctness exam, and there are no make-up tests for that one. We can all be different, as long as we all think the same way about one another's differences.
Papachristou crossed the line, the Greeks said. But what line? Where is it drawn? Whom exactly can you lampoon in today's world and whom can you not? Could the fair-haired Greek have ribbed her fellow countrymen for their fabled pecuniary fastidiousness? Would a blonde joke have done her in?
California beauty queen Carrie Prejean Boller was burned at the stake of public opinion -- and eventually lost her crown -- after offering her honest take in support of traditional marriage when asked about it at a Miss USA pageant. Maybe she should have taken the temperature of the room -- and lied.
Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen had the audacity to say he loved Fidel Castro earlier this year. His unpopular political opinion, for which he apologized, got him suspended for five games. What determined the length of time his transgression warranted? How many days he would have gotten for praising the murderous Che Guevara or the mustache of Spanish King Alfonso XIII, who once ruled over the Caribbean island?
There was no mistaking the feelings Nazi Germany held for African-American Jessie Owens leading into the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The Nazis considered him -- and just about everyone else for that matter -- racially inferior to their Aryan athletes.
So Owens did what all great competitors do: He blew away the field on the track to prove them wrong, winning four gold medals. Owens even beat aptly named German long jumper Lutz Long, the reigning European champion, to take a surprise gold medal in that event. Long, who defied Adolf Hitler by befriending Owens in the days before the games -- and who advised the black American on how to improve his jumping technique -- took the silver. He was killed in July 1943, during the American invasion of Sicily.
The official Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius -- Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger." But in light of the Papachristou expulsion, perhaps it should be changed to Citius, Altius, Fortius, Correctus.
Like or dislike Papachristou, she got "gypped."
Wait. Can I say that?
Bill O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant struggling to hold onto his own name. He is no relation to Bill O'Reilly the Fox News commentator.