Former NBC sportscaster Michele Tafoya spoke out strongly against cancel culture on Friday in remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Tafoya, who retired from NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” after this year’s Super Bowl, said she wanted to add her voice to a world that needs more courage to speak out without fear of intimidation or retaliation.
“I just want people to know it’s OK to be yourself and speak your values and live your values, and not apologize,” Tafoya said in an interview with Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the annual conference.
Tafoya said she thinks people have the ability to decide whether or not to be offended by what another person says.
“If you disagree with me, disagree with me. But if you decide you’re going to be pained by it or aggrieved by it, that’s you making that choice,” she said. “You get to choose how you respond to everything in the world.”
Schlapp asked Tafoya for her thoughts on basketball star Enes Kanter Freedom, who was also scheduled to speak at CPAC, but withdrew. Freedom, a naturalized American citizen raised in Turkey and a pro-democracy activist who has been outspoken against China’s human rights abuses, was recently cut from the NBA.
“I mean, he has been a portrait of courage, right? The guy … would wear shoes during warmups of an NBA game that said, you know, things about China and slavery and the Uyghurs, and the NBA didn’t like it, and they begged him to take those shoes off,” Tafoya said. “He never did. I just think that kind of courage … we need more of it.”
Tafoya said that since speaking out—on everything from COVID-19 vaccination to critical race theory—she has received an outpouring of support and phone calls from others who want to do the same.
“So, my message is to people: Please be courageous. Speak out,” she said. “I believe that the majority of the country believes in the goodness of us, in the goodness of Americans, the American people. But they’ve been told to shut up.”
Tafoya said she supports “absolutely 1,000% free speech” and doesn’t hate others who have differing viewpoints.
“You’ve got to work at getting your spinal column a little stronger and saying, ‘You disagree with me. Have a great day,’” she said. “I’m not going to try to cancel you. You can try to cancel me. I’m not going to cancel you. And you’re not going to succeed.”
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