CM Punk may not care what people think, but WWE does.
So it will be interesting to see just how WWE, which has disciplined employees in the past for making politically incorrect statements, responds to a Punk tweet calling Pope Benedict XVI a “Nazi.”
WrestlingInc.com says the Punk comment about Benedict was an answer to a tweet from a WWE fan. According to the report, the fan made a comment referring to a tweet from another Twitter user reacting to Monday’s news that Benedict would resign the papacy at the end of February. Of that news, the Twitter user claimed he did “Nazi it coming.”
The WWE fan responded that the tweet was an “envelope-pushing tweet for a company employee.”
Punk’s response to the fan: “Oh, piss off. Pope was a Nazi.”
Benedict, who was born Joseph Ratzinger 85 years ago in Germany, has acknowledged that as a youngster, he was forced to join a Nazi youth camp. He also was drafted into the German army but deserted near the end of the war.
But the fact that Punk would actually use the word “Nazi” to describe the pope—even in as apparently passive a tone as he did—has to ruffle some feathers in Stamford, CT. The mere use of the word “Nazi” conjures up disturbing images and memories for many people, especially those whose families were decimated by the Holocaust.
It is one thing to use the word in historical context, like with books about World War II. It’s another thing to throw the word around casually in tweets or other social media. Like it or not, calling someone a "Nazi" can be construed as offensive as any other slur on a person.
Should WWE take a stand on CM Punk's tweet about Pope Benedict XVI?
An underlying WWE theme is political correctness and going out of the way to not offend any ethnic or religious beliefs. WWE has proven it will not stand for any kind of political incorrectness by its workers.
Think back to last summer when WWE fired Abraham Washington for making an offhand comment during a Raw telecast about Kobe Bryant facing rape charges in Colorado. A.W. also was making a comment about something that had been acknowledged previously, but he still got a pink slip for it.
Punk’s comment can be seen as equally inflammatory as the A.W. episode. And there is no doubt that WWE is finding itself in a tight spot in how to handle this.
Punk is involved in a major core storyline as he battles to get his WWE Championship back from The Rock. They are set for a rematch at Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
When A.W. was disciplined last year, his storylines were just beginning to build. He had not quite reached the upper-card level that Punk is and has been on for a while now. So one could say that the effects of disciplining or firing someone at the mid-card level would not be as huge as doing the same to someone who is in WWE’s upper echelon.
Yes, Punk is a top-flight star in WWE, but that does not give him a hall pass. He has made his living on saying and doing outrageous things, but the majority of that was in character. There is absolutely no indication that Punk was in character when he sent out the Benedict tweet.
It will be interesting to see how WWE reacts to the Punk tweet. It could opt to say or do nothing, or it could take some steps to distance itself from the tweet and possibly discipline Punk.
We’ll just have to see how all this plays out over the next few days.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.