The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.
The anthem protests are once again big news in the press. Specifically, President Trump condemned the protests, and, in turn, the NFL and media condemned the President. People generally have been conflating what is going on with the NFL and the President with some kind of attack on free speech.
In light what has taken place in recent months in Berkeley and with AntiFA1 across the country, I personally find that complaint from the left to be rather rich. However, rather than attack the messenger, I will address the substance of the issue.
This is not a Freedom of Speech issue so much as it is a Customer Service issue. While these players most certainly have a right to speak their mind, they do not have the right to go into work, put on their employer’s uniform and protest while on the job. The NFL has fined or otherwise punished its players for other forms of speech in those very circumstances, including supporting the victims of 9/11, supporting breast cancer research and myriad other causes, as well as the so-called “Touchdown Celebrations.”
So when, over a large outcry from the fans, they allow this form of extremely controversial expression but ban others, we can only take it as a tacit endorsement of said expression by the league. When a business decides to inject politics into their product, we as customers have the right to get angry, let the business know we are angry and threaten to stop using their product. That is all we are doing.
That is why most wise businessmen and businesswomen keep their politics and their businesses separate. Once your business takes a position on a controversial issue, you have necessarily put your business in opposition to a portion of your possible customer base.
Although I find most of these players ill-equipped to lecture anyone on the complexities of the criminal justice system (or any other political issue for that matter), neither myself nor anyone else I know has called for them to be denied the right to do so “off the clock.” Frankly, we are not even trying to forcibly deny the NFL the right to allow the players to do so “on the clock.” We just want the NFL to know that we customers are not happy with their decision (and de facto endorsement) and that the drop in ratings they have seen since this protest began is directly related.
Likewise, President Trump is not using his authority as president to infringe on the players’ or the NFL’s speech. Rather, he is using his political platform to defend (with his free speech) against people he views to be attacking the USA and her values.
He could actually go further, however, because he is a customer too. The Department of Defense (DOD) spends hundreds of millions of dollars advertising with the NFL. What President Trump could do but has not yet, is have Secretary Mattis end the DOD’s relationship with the NFL.
If you went to Walmart one day, and the employees were outside carrying signs with your face and your name, and accusing you of being evil, wouldn’t you stop giving them your business? I know I would, and U.S. Government should do the same.
1 They are self-described “Antifascists,” but in reality, they are “AntiFirst-Amendment.” Hence my use of “AntiFA” rather than their preferred “Antifa.”