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When does freedom of speech become a political statement?

When does speaking your truth become offensive?

These are some questions that Peloton is struggling with this week.

During Sunday’s Yacht Rock ride (10/4/20):

Jenn Sherman gave a shout-out to one of her most loyal riders, Tom Jenkins.  This was a celebration for his 1000th ride and Tom and Jenn share a long history of loving football, discussing football, and teasing each other openly about their favorite teams.

Jenn Sherman is well-known for her Sunday football rides – she loves the game. And she always walks through what is happening with the NFL in a way that even a non-sports fan can understand and appreciate.

But, back to the ride on Sunday…

As Jenn was giving the shout out to #BigTom (Tom Jenkins), she said “I can handle coronavirus taking down the Whitehouse, but I cannot handle coronavirus taking down the NFL. OK?  Now Corona is starting to really, really mess with us.” Here is the video so you can watch/listen to yourself:  (note the shoutout from 10/4/20 starts at the 2-minute, 57-second mark.)

Video courtesy of Tonia Jenkins. Used with permission.
Some were offended by this statement.  So much so, that they reached out to Peloton CEO John Foley personally to complain.

Yacht Rock Ride - GroundedYacht Rock Ride - Grounded

John Foley was kind enough to respond and the ride was then removed.

Yacht Rock Ride - Grounded

Still, the controversy remains.

To Jenn’s fans, it’s clear this was about a special bond between Big Tom and Jenn and a special shoutout  – making the best out of what I think we CAN all agree on has been a strange and trying year.  Including the person that Jenn was shouting out.  Tom and his wife Tonia both feel sad the ride was removed, especially since it was such a special milestone and felt it was clear the statement was about their mutual love of football.

Also, Jenn’s supporters have pointed out that the person who reached out to John Foley didn’t actually take the ride.

Yacht Rock Ride - Grounded

Then there is the fact that she is using a hashtag to express a political opinion of her own while asking for politics to be removed from Peloton.

 

Yacht Rock Ride - Grounded

On the other hand, the statement was made on a ride, not on a rider’s profile.  So, it’s not an apples to apples comparison.

Personally, I understand Peloton’s decision to remove the ride.  It wasn’t worth the potential misunderstanding.  However, I also understand those who are sad it was removed.  And, I can’t help but question: if the statement were made about a different party, would the complainer have still complained?

This year has been the most divisive in a very long time and I believe we are all on edge.  Make sure you are registered to vote and you use your voice in November.

 

39 Comments

  1. Ilene Weiner on October 5, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Well said and well written! And yes register to vote and vote!

  2. Gina on October 5, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    FFS. There are very clearly bigger things to worry about – and I’m talking about both sides here. Sorry you were offended by a line you didn’t hear on a ride you weren’t on. Sorry your shoutout got deleted. Move it along now, please. I feel like the country could start to heal if grown ups would just act like grown ups.

    • Peter Smith Kingsley on October 6, 2020 at 10:31 am

      FFS..Jenn got thrown under the bus by a woman who is fine with POTUS grabbing women by their genitals (prob a pedo); dog whistling hate groups, and overall a POS subhuman $hit stain, etc etc

      Ok, Karen……eye roll

  3. Tim on October 5, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    This is ridiculous.
    The rider supports the president*, didn’t take the ride, claims she teaches journalism but never brings politics into the classroom (we have to take her word for it, but I cannot imagine that politics never came up).
    Okay, the instructors should avoid political statements but Jenn’s statement was weakly political; she said that COVID affecting football was more important to her than COVID affecting the White House. So what? If the president were a Democrat, would anyone care?
    The removal of this ride puts Foley on the precipice of an icy slope. Did people complain about Alex’s very emotional ride when he talked about how he had to call his mother every night to tell her he was home safe? I sure hope not.

    • Ness on October 5, 2020 at 6:05 pm

      With all due respect, the comment that Alex made about calling his mother every night to let her know that he got home safe & that entire ride was not political; it was his truth.

  4. MaryEllen Leveille on October 5, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    This is such bullshit. It’s okay for the President to support hate speech and to make fun of the disabled and to call US Senators derogatory names, but a Peloton instructor can’t express her own opinion…Bullshit!

  5. Karen Weidner on October 5, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    Maybe the Complainant should write her
    Congressman and complain about the POTUS
    Taking a Political Agenda Ride while sick with COVID
    and endangering the health of his Drivers.

  6. Mae Sakharov on October 5, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    Jenn is a Jersey girl, me too and from the cradle we speak up and out– I love her candor and directness. I think the discussion was rooted in secondhand gossip since the writer did not the class..

  7. Madison on October 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Jenn Sherman can use all the profanity she wants but keep your political nonsense out of your rides. She also does this on Instagram. I’m glad they took the ride down as much as I love her yacht rides. Stick to spinning JSS.

  8. Miss Shane on October 5, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    As a shareholder, why is Foley engaging in political conversations with a rider who never took this ride . Please be quiet and don’t get involved, for Pete’s sake , is it worth it to placate #Trump2020? It unravels everything your other instructors fight for , like LGBTQ rights and Racial inequality. Very tasteless to submit to her , disappointed

    • Rebecca on October 5, 2020 at 10:00 pm

      Frankly I’m not surprised to have seen this complaint coming from a #Trump2020 supporter. Liberals are the special snowflakes until somebody offends them and then it is, sometimes literally, guns blazing. This isn’t a political comment, it’s an objective observation.

      • Scrumpdiddlyumptious on October 6, 2020 at 2:22 am

        I support Trump and found nothing wrong with Jenn’s comment. I totally get what she was saying. We are not all that way.🤷🏻‍♀️

      • Jeff on October 6, 2020 at 1:14 pm

        Completely agree! I’ve been ranting about this for the past few days – I’m so bloody sick of these people who have gone on and on about just saying what’s on their mind and claim they don’t have to be “PC” anymore and we all should just get over it – all while they’ve spewed garbage. But holy hell don’t dare say anything back. As someone else point out to me – Do unto me, not unto thee.

  9. Leslie on October 5, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    I get both sides. I believe in freedom of speech. Both sides are being attacked for freedom of speech and losing their jobs and careers over it. What happened to our constitutional rights?

  10. Amy on October 5, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    I feel like Peloton pulls rides down as soon as anyone complains. I remember when they pulled Becs Women’s History Month run because people were offended with a line she said in it. I wrote them and said that as a female runner I am offended they took it down but nothing was done. There is so much great content and so many instructors that if you do not like what someone says or believes take another instructor. My hope is that if the instructors are supporting causes that are near and dear to their heart and not because they feel like they have to because they think it is what their community wants.

  11. Michelle Hinds on October 5, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    This is cancel culture at it’s worst. People are far too sensitive today to every word uttered. You have the freedom to take jenn’s rides or not. Does this really reach the level of an open letter to the CEO which falsely claims that he doesn’t know half his audience has left? (Stock numbers speak otherwise). I personally love Jen and will now take her rides more in support of her.

    • Julie on October 6, 2020 at 2:39 am

      Agreed. It seems like a funny joke over the top directed at football. I’ll be looking up more Jen jersey girl for her humor that always makes me chuckle.

    • #jewrledLife on October 6, 2020 at 11:23 am

      Agree 100%

    • Catherine Field on October 7, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      Totally agree with “if you don’t like it don’t take the class”. JS is excellent. I was looking specifically for the Yacht Rock class from Sunday and so disappointed that it wasn’t there. Her comment from my opinion was not political in nature…just an opinion about COVID and football (neither of which should be political).

  12. DiscoDavis on October 5, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Further proof of how very divisive politics in our country has gotten in our country. Thank you for this well-written summary of yesterday’s drama.

  13. Jusitn on October 5, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Where is the line? Cody says titties so if I write to John and say that I’m offended by the word titties does the ride get taken down? If an instructor says they don’t like a store or a restaurant or a certain team does that offends someone who does… does that ride get taken down?

    People are too sensitive. I do not believe the ride should have been taken down.

  14. Joel Berkowitz on October 5, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    Funny I don’t think any Peloton Stockholders that are on the Republican side of the ledger are hitting the “SELL” button today. That’s the beauty of the internet age, if you don’t like what someone is saying just scroll on.

  15. Kim Sanchez on October 5, 2020 at 8:50 pm

    This ride should not be taken down because of a complaint by one Trump supporter who didn’t even take that ride. I took all 4 Yacht Rocks this year live and they were fabulous. It was an indirect “political” comment at best. If you are going to take this ride down because you don’t want the instructors to be “political” then nor should the riders get to express their political leanings through hashtags. Spare me the fake outrage and her saying she doesn’t want the instructors to get political during rides, when she has a Trump2020 hashtag. Especially when that hashtag represents such hate and also the clear support of white supremacy. I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded if Jen had shouted out MAGA during the ride. Yet, she’s the one offended. Oh please. Here’s a thought, if you don’t like what the instructors say, don’t take their classes. It’s that simple. Come on Peloton, show your instructors more support than that!

    • Kris Wood on October 5, 2020 at 9:48 pm

      PREACH Kim Sanchez!

      I. Agree. With. Every. Word.

      Disappointed in Peloton’s response to remove the ride. I will increase my rides with Jenn in support of her right to express herself!

    • Kristin Benjamin on October 5, 2020 at 10:03 pm

      This right here is 100% correct! Support your instructors! And is they can’t be ‘political’ then riders can’t either.

    • Kelly Benson on October 6, 2020 at 11:46 pm

      I agree and am very concerned about the public response from the CEO. This response does not reflect that John Foley supports his instructors and suggests multiple instructors, not just this ride in particular, are engaging in discourse they should not be. We follow these instructors for who they are and what they represent. They have enough on their mind, they should be free to be themselves. Although I will agree with another poster the joke was in poor taste.

      And yes, I will absolutely say if the roles were reversed, if the instructors were espousing white supremacists and racist views then I would absolutely expect some action to be taken. But did he even take some time to verify what the complaint was about before he decided to call out his instructors to do better?

  16. Kathy Rosendin on October 5, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    Wow. Agree, John should not have taken the ride down. To learn the person didn’t even take the ride double pisses me off. Don’t pander to the weak, let her toughen up and learn to ignore what she doesn’t like.

    • Shelley Felton on October 6, 2020 at 3:29 am

      I guess we don’t need to guess who he supports, not his instructor. At the very least he could have had her back in the comment directly related to the NFL. I agree if he is taking a stance on this issue then he should on all political issues……. so many instructors say many things. Will you take down every ride that has the word COVID in it.

  17. Sheila Marie O’Reilly on October 5, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Agreed

  18. Lisa Silverstein on October 5, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    Agree with so many of you (but not with those of you who say “stick to spinning”) especially in the wake of what is happening *right now* with #45 leaving the hospital despite the fact that he is still in the midst of COVID, and just downplayed (yet again) the effects of the pandemic, insulting every single person who has lost income, work, or more importantly, family and friends to this harrowing disease. I don’t wish harm on any of those who work in the WH administration. However, I will not be sympathetic nor surprised if there is a death resulting from #45’s carelessness. Jenn’s off-the-cuff remarks were not inappropriate–at all. I had been debating whether or not to change my hashtag to “Ridin with Biden”. But now? I do so, not only in support of Biden but also in support of free speech as well as in support of a return to decency and humanity in this country–both on and off the Peloton platform. Humph.

    • Lee on October 6, 2020 at 12:15 am

      Does anyone recall the bullshit backlash when the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed the president was from Texas? It nearly ruined their careers and they received death threats. Come on people!! JS was not any more offensive than the Chicks. #NOTREADYTOMAKENICE

  19. Ingrid on October 5, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    I can see if it was political, but it stopped being political a long time ago.

    • Rebecca Reeves on October 6, 2020 at 6:38 am

      This open letter is methodically written. Calculated at the best.

      1st-She praises Peloton and how it has impacted her life. Everyone has a story.

      2) She makes her presence known. Reminds Foley of his boots. Essentially payed him a compliment. Now she has his attention. He fell for it! 🙄

      3.) She elaborates on the founding of a peloton group! Now she has placed herself in a position of leadership. Making sure you understand she isn’t a Karen.

      4.) She complained about a comment made on a ride she NEVER took! “It was about football!” For the record, Trump did state he was proud to have brought football back! I think he made it very clear in his debate. She is asking the instructors not to take a political stance, but as a rider she riding with a political hashtag under her lb name! Hypocrite at best!

      Foley bought into that!

      5.) She is an relationship. Point taken.
      6.) Then she goes and strokes his ego.
      Goes on to instill fear, you wouldn’t want the world to turn against you!  Or have the instructors use the stage as a platform on your dollar. HYPOCRITE- meanwhile, she riding with a political hashtag under her lb name!

      Foley played right into it.

      She could have emailed him directly and reminded him of his great pair of boots. If she made that big of an impact. He would have remembered exactly who she was and addressed it.

      Instead she wrote an open letter. She got the response she wanted!
      Practice what you preach! Stop using Peloton as political platform, Ms. DFW!

    • Nicole Rand on October 12, 2020 at 3:55 am

      Exactly.

  20. Shelly Gertgen on October 5, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    Yikes. I’m on vacation and away from my bike. I ride primarily with Jenn and adore her. I see this as a very imperfect, human moment.

  21. […] After the ride, a Peloton customer wrote an open letter to CEO John Foley on his Facebook page to complain, and John Foley responded. The entire exchange was found by The Clip Out. […]

  22. Niki on October 6, 2020 at 11:22 am

    As a member of this amazing community, I agree that the ride should not have been removed. Jenn’s comment was not political. It was not Jenn voicing her political views. As for me, I unfollow people who perpetuate hate or see fit to cause ill will toward others both on social media and in real life! I also believe the person who complained would not care one bit if her rhetoric caused Jenn to lose her job. That my friends is unkind and not what America is about. I stand by Jenn Sherman!

  23. RWE128 on October 6, 2020 at 11:36 am

    The company giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to BLM (which funnels to the Democratic party via ActBlue) and constantly talking about anti racism is far more offensive than this. Black lives matter and racism is bad. But capital BLM and anti racism are extremely political. Even Kendall talked about Glennon Doyle. That should come down before this. She could’ve meant White House staff.

  24. Nicole Rand on October 7, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I’m thinking of writing an open letter to John. I used to work for the company and know him. Concerning censorship via removing a ride due to ONE person’s opinion. And let’s be real. She only wrote the letter because her precious Trump was put on blast. She was angry, and wanted Jenn to get into some kind of trouble. This is the ultimate case of “wanting to see the manager.”

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