The First Amendment is probably my favorite of the amendments. If it wasn’t for my right to free speech, I’m pretty sure I’d have been jailed a long time ago over my Twitter feed alone, and not for saying anything necessarily horrible, but I’ve published my fair share of Nancy Pelosi mockery and she seems like the type that would get a bit despotic over that kind of thing.
And thank God she can’t. The Constitution, despite Hollywood Ginsburg’s claim, outlines that the government can’t take away your freedom of speech pretty clearly. Sadly, some people get rather confused about where their rights do and don’t apply. A perfect example is the recent foot-stomp-a-thon happening within the NFL.
Recently, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen M. Ross, implemented a rule that said Dolphins players would be suspended or fined for not standing during the national anthem. This was after the NFL implemented a “no kneeling” policy.
BREAKING: Miami Dolphins to discipline players who protest during national anthem with suspensions, fines or both.
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 19, 2018
Naturally, the same people who cheer on social media platforms and colleges for silencing conservatives suddenly found themselves aghast that the rights of rich athletes were being trampled upon. Of course, the NFL then suspended this policy until after it convenes with the Players Association.
Regardless, everyone suddenly became obsessed with “muh rights.”
@NFL , there are no LAWW that require a person to stand during the anthem. As soon as we infringe upon those rights, we in return are BREAKING the LAW! Leave the players alone . When the Trump Biy broke rank and sided with Russia, he DISRESPECTED our COUNTRY ! Phuk TRUMP
— C.J. (@cetalley) July 20, 2018
@NFL Support your player’s 1st Amendment Rights. This is how you honor our service men and women.
Playing the National Anthem while denying your players the right to exercise 1st Amendment Rights peacefully, goes against the National Anthem’s meaning – “THE LAND OF THE FREE!”
— Mindy (@bttr_as1) July 20, 2018
Trump doesn't want the players to have the right to kneel because he has a grief against the NFL about them not allowing Trump to own a team. Players have a right to kneel. It's not about the anthem and it's not about the flag. #Blacklivesmatter
— Jaini Thompson (@Jainiand2cats) July 20, 2018
@NFL You should rethink your anthem policy,the players have the right,and are 100%right imo,to kneel during the anthem.Don't let the bully in the WH dictate how you react.
— christi b athans (@AthansChristi) July 20, 2018
Clearly, many people are confused about how the free speech of the players was inhibited, so your old pal Brandon is going to educate ya some.
Those obsessing over the rights of the NFL players are only half right themselves. The players do indeed have the right to kneel during the national anthem…but only so far as the government is concerned. Police cannot suddenly take the field and lead the players away in handcuffs because the government mandates you stand during the Star Spangled Banner. The government can’t do that, as it’s unconstitutional and out of bounds for the government to impose that kind of power. If we wanted to Riverdance during the national anthem instead of standing with hands over hearts, we have every right to do that.
However, while you maintain your rights against the government, you can voluntarily give up some of those rights when entering into a private agreement with someone else in exchange for compensation. That’s a fancy way of saying that when you get a job, your boss can tell you that you can’t say certain things if you want to avoid getting your pay docked or stay under his employ.
Your right to free speech is still intact, but you’re not dealing with the government anymore. You’re dealing with a guy who’s paying you money to act a certain way while you accomplish certain tasks.
Let’s say you walk into Taco Bell and you’re greeted with a mostly naked individual behind the register who has painted himself in pig’s blood. He tells you it’s a statement against the conditions farm animals face. In the normal world, you could call for a manager or even Taco Bell’s corporate line and tell them that you’d rather not be served food by an unhygienic creeper who wants to involve you in his politics. You don’t want to talk about farm animals, you want a clean Doritos Locos taco…or at least as clean as you can get at Taco Bell.
Nakey McPigsblood is promptly fired for being grossly out of uniform and for harassing customers, and rightfully so. The protester isn’t providing good customer service and is putting the brand in danger. He’s currently the face of Taco Bell in that store. The man could cause them to lose lots of money due to seriously bad PR. Taco Bell must make a statement by firing him, lest they be seen as endorsing this kind of nonsense.
The protester’s free speech wasn’t impeded, he just had no allowance to that kind of speech within the agreement between him and Taco Bell. The protester may demonstrate outside of Taco Bell property and without trouble because on public grounds he’s not really breaking any laws. His rights are still intact, but he broke his conduct agreement with Taco Bell by demonstrating while being a representative of the company. Thus, Taco Bell lawfully and rightfully ended their relationship.
The NFL teams are also private businesses. Signing on as a running back to a team is hardly different than signing on with Taco Bell as a register attendant. If the owner says that players must wear frilly pink armbands during their game with the Cowboys, then the players have to wear frilly pink armbands. If they have to take salsa lessons in order to remain a member of the team, then the players must fulfill their contractual obligations and get fitted with some dancing shoes.
Likewise, if the owner of a team says that in order to avoid punishment while under his employ players must stand for the anthem, then the players must obey the boss and do so. Their boss is a private business owner who has made a private contract with a private citizen. Therefore, if the owner chooses not to pay a player money for breaking the rules of the contract, he has every right to do so.
So no. The rights of the players as American citizens aren’t being taken from them. They’re still fully intact, even as the owner suspends or docks pay for the player breaking certain contractual rules. If you want to kneel during the anthem, then do so away from the field during game time where you’re being paid to play football, not make political statements.
If you know anyone who is confused about this, feel free to send this article to them.