NFL players’ stance was a job issue, not a constitutional one

Print Article

Last week President Trump blasted NFL players who chose to kneel or stand together with arms locked during the playing or singing of the national anthem. Calling such behavior disrespectful of our flag and country, Trump suggested that NFL owners fire or suspend players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, and later called on football fans to boycott NFL games.

The president was not alone. Nearly everybody has weighed in on this subject. Some have discovered a new patriotic fervor and joined Trump in his denunciation. Others have developed a new passion for free speech and cheered the players’ actions.

The Herald is not going to take a stance (so to speak) on whether the players should stand, kneel or form a conga line. We do, however, take issue with the president’s (and others’) attempt to turn what is essentially a job-related issue into a constitutional one.

Contrary to myth, the First Amendment does not guarantee free speech across the board. What it does is prohibit the government from making laws that restrict speech. The NFL is not the government, nor are team owners. They are private employers, and depending on the players’ terms of employment, entitled to determine what their players may or may not say while they are representing the team. Some owners have supported their players’ protests, others have threatened to fire players who take a knee.

Certainly they have a right to do either, assuming no contractual obligation to the contrary. Any other employer would be equally within their rights to discipline or terminate, say, a fast-food worker or a police officer who sported a political symbol or joined rallies while in uniform. When you represent your boss, you’re not representing yourself.

We also believe that the public outrage at the players is unwarranted. To protest injustice is not unpatriotic, nor are the anthem and the flag sacred. Whatever the merits of the protest, the players are carrying it out in a civilized manner. They harm nobody and destroy nothing merely by expressing their dissatisfaction with America’s civil rights record. Nobody calls for improvements to a country he despises, only to one he thinks is worth the effort.

Which is why Trump’s response is so inappropriate. Calling for someone to “get that (expletive) off the field” is not only an abuse of his influence, but also very short-sighted. America is not the worse for football players taking a knee; it will be if they are afraid to do so.

— Editorial Board

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Living with the mystery

November 16, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald It was a tough Veterans Day for me this year. This was the first Veterans Day in a number of years I wasn’t able to call my dad, Charles L. Featherstone. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in January...

Comments

Read More

Support the dreamers on Small Business Saturday

November 16, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald Edged in pink with fanciful lettering, a sign I recently found declares: “When you support small business you are supporting a dream.” That little statement sent me on a journey of memories that most...

Comments

Read More

Election scramble could change future of city, schools

November 16, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald Last week’s election took some by surprise. Longtime incumbents on the Moses Lake School Board and Moses Lake City Council defended their respective seats. And some newcomers emerged victorious. The ...

Comments

Read More

A word from Moses Lake’s sister city

November 02, 2017 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald Editor’s note: These are the speeches offered by representatives of the city of Yonezawa, Japan at the Sayonara Dinner held in their honor in Moses Lake last Friday. Mr. Nakagawa, Masaru, Mayor, C...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(509) 765-4561
PO Box 910
Moses Lake, WA 98837

©2017 Columbia Basin Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X