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We're Seeing Freedom of Speech on the Gridiron So How About in Every Other Workplace?

Why don't Americans demand that the 1st Amendment apply on the job too?

 

Football players are a special class of workers. Even the lowliest of them make six-figure salaries, at least for the short time they stay healthy enough to play, but they are, nonetheless workers, and unionized workers at that.

And what is happening right now -- with NFL players, black and in some cases white, and now professional basketball and baseball players too, acting in solidarity to protest racist policing and other issues of equality denied in America by not standing for the traditional performance of the Star-Spangled Banner, and with the subsequent incendiary calls by President Trump for the firing of these protesters by team management -- is shining a light not just on the racist politics of the president, but on the wholesale lack of First Amendment freedom on the job for most American workers.

The reality is that workers in the US, unless they are represented by a labor union -- and even then only a powerful and assertive union -- speak their minds at the risk of being fired, and have no recourse if they are fired for the opinions they express if those opinions aren't shared by the boss.

Freedom of speech, that hallowed and much touted supposed birthright of all Americans, actually only applies during the hours that that we are sleeping, traveling to and from work, on our days off, or at home. And even then, as people are discovering with employers monitoring their personal blogs, Facebook pages and Tweets, and firing them for things they may have said or written, we're not so free
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Colin Kaepernick (center) takes a knee in protest, loses his ability to play pro ball, but starts a movementColin Kaepernick (center) takes a knee in protest, loses his ability to play pro ball, but starts a movement
 

Hooray for the professional ball players who, following the lead of the heroic former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, are engaging their public protests before the fans and asserting their right to speak their minds about racism and the national epidemic of police brutality against and murders of African Americans.

Now this burgeoning struggle for the freedom to speak out has to move out of the sports stadiums and into the workplaces of America.

You can tell such a movement is badly needed when the self-styled "patriotic" yahoos in the stands boo and shout "stand up!" at kneeling athletes speaking their mind on the job and don't get upset when millionaire Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin scolds the protesters, telling them to do their free speech thing "on their own time" and not on the bosses’. These white "NASCAR dudes" don't even realize that everyone -- including they themselves -- should be demanding First Amendment rights on the job, and that the ball players they are condemning and jeering at are making that case for everyone's benefit.

What this football protest has demonstrated is that when one person takes a stand on the job and makes a statement as Kaepernick did last year, it may cost that person her or his job. But when lots of people take the stand together, the boss can't retaliate so easily. In fact, the boss may even join them.



story | by Dr. Radut