Freedom of Speech and NFL Protesters

Freedom of Speech and the NFL Protesters

This great county we live in is in so much turmoil.  It really is heartbreaking to me.  I still believe in the ideals we are founded upon that all people are created equal and have certain natural rights.  My article may make some people angry, but I have been thinking about this for quite some time.  This article is no way an endorsement nor is it disparaging to any group or their ideology.  My article is about being a champion of free speech.  I want to say something about the freedom of speech that is domination my news feed in regards to NFL protests.

First, let’s have a short civics lesson: Not very long ago (1977) the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Nazi group who had wanted to hold a rally in the predominantly Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois.  I think most people would agree that the Nazi ideology is vulgar and offensive, yet they won the right to hold their rally and express their views.  The community passed ordinances ahead of that planned rally outlawing symbols offensive to their community.  Who could blame them?  I’m sure the good people of Skokie were outraged by this decision, but the Supreme Court did protect this type of speech.

In a different case, two students, Mary Beth and John Tinker were suspended from their school because they wore arm bands with a peace symbol to protest the Vietnam War.  The Supreme Court ruled that symbolic speech just as verbal or written speech is protected by the First Amendment.  I’m sure that the peace symbol may have been offensive to some.  The Supreme Court ruled that teachers and students do not give up their freedom of speech when entering the school house doors.  In other words, teachers cannot lose their jobs for expressing their opinions on political or social matters.

The point here is that if teachers don’t forfeit their right to free speech by virtue of their vocation, then neither should anyone else, including professional athletes.  Would you like to lose your job because you expressed a belief in God, or because you spoke out against the Affordable Care Act?  I know that I wouldn’t.  When the President said that anyone in the NFL expressing their opinion with the “knell protest” should be fired, he violated the free speech clause in the First Amendment.

There is no Supreme Court ruling or amendment in existence that says we all have to like, support, or endorse all forms of speech and ideology.  On the contrary, the freedom of speech was included in the Constitution to promote free and public discourse and debate.

So, if Nazis have the freedom to express their hateful ideology, why wouldn’t a professional athlete have the right to express his opinion?  Everyone else certainly has the right to agree or disagree but we should discuss the issues intelligently.  That is what freedom of speech is supposed to foster.

If even one thought, ideology, or opinion can be restricted, than Freedom of Speech is dead and all ideologies could suffer the same fate.  Eventually, the government would tell us how to think then we would be living in a state similar to North Korea.

written by,

Jeremy Banister

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