Sunday, July 08, 2018

Freedom Of Speech

I find it fascinating that so many young people - and not-so-young-people - believe that NFL players have an inherent right to kneel during the national anthem because they have the right to protest.  They have freedom of speech under the First Amendment. That is only true on their own time. They have the right to protest on their employer's time only with the employer's permission. Whether the NFL or the team owner is their employer might be argued, and someone would likely try and make the case that it's not the employer's time until after the anthem, but really, it's pretty straightforward. Even if your employer agrees with your sentiment, you still might be told to stop.

For example, if you worked for an environmental nonprofit, you don't have automatic permission to put up LGBT banners visible to the public at the office.  The board might decide that they don't want to water down their primary message.  Wear a pin or a t-shirt, perhaps, but don't use our space.  Because it's ours, not yours. 

I think this counterargument has spread wide, but perhaps I am just positioned to hear it more often. Perhaps the young people really are quite solid on the very American idea of free speech and are just a little muddled about it.  That wouldn't be a terrible thing.

Unless, of course, they are the same people who believe that hate speech, however it is being defined this week, is not protected under the First Amendment.  Then their approval of the right to protest is just approval of the cause, subject to change when the speech goes against their thought. Then we really are screwed.


james said...

What gets under my skin is when the employer decides to make political statements as though this represented the entire company/university. I am free to object and not be renewed, of course (the budget is always tight).

Christopher B said...

I think james brings up a point that adds to the confusion, especially with the NFL. Businesses and other public institutions, except those with specifically political or social interests, formerly avoided incorporating anything into their public relations activities with even a hint of partisanship. Starting with sporting pink for breast cancer awareness the NFL and many other businesses have steadily incorporated more and more controversial social activism into their public images. This is blurring the line around who gets to chose what causes are being advocated.

Sam L. said...

Also, let us not forget that NFL fans are slipping away from going to the games. Voting with their feet, as the saying goes.