Conservative Free Speech Hypocrisy
Look, I really don’t like NFL players weaponizing the National Anthem for the culture war either, but some of us conservatives are being hypocrites about the issue. Robby Soave is right:
Middlebury College shouldn’t sit idly by while students literally attack Charles Murray, and Twitter shouldn’t scrub all non-leftist views from its platform. They shouldn’t do those things because they have made commitments to the spirit of the First Amendment. They say free speech matters to them, and it is perfectly fair for conservatives to hold their feet to the fire when they fall short of those commitments.
But conservatives are being brazenly hypocritical when they celebrate the NFL’s decision to muzzle its players. The NFL might not have made any commitment to free expression, but its players were engaged in one of the most civil and least disruptive forms of protest imaginable. Saying that simply kneeling for the national anthem is so offensive that it must be confined to the locker room or banned outright reflects the same hypersensitivity that plagues the social justice left.
Make no mistake, I want football players to stand for the anthem. I want them to respect the flag. As a veteran of the war in Iraq, I’ve saluted that flag in foreign lands and deployed with it proudly on my uniform. But as much as I love the flag, I love liberty even more.
The N.F.L. isn’t the government. It has the ability to craft the speech rules its owners want. So does Google. So does Mozilla. So does Yale. American citizens can shame whomever they want to shame.
But what should they do? Should they use their liberty to punish dissent? Or should a free people protect a culture of freedom?
In our polarized times, I’ve adopted a simple standard, a civil liberties corollary to the golden rule: Fight for the rights of others that you would like to exercise yourself. Do you want corporations obliterating speech the state can’t touch? Do you want the price of participation in public debate to include the fear of lost livelihoods? Then, by all means, support the N.F.L. Cheer Silicon Valley’s terminations. Join the boycotts and shame campaigns. Watch this country’s culture of liberty wither in front of your eyes.
Americans don’t really care about liberty anymore, do we? We just want to punish our enemies. The Bake the cake, bigot and Stand for the flag, Negro factions think they’re on opposite sides, but they’re not. They’re left-wing and right-wing version of the same thing.
When the President of the United States says that Americans who peacefully protest by kneeling at the National Anthem should get out of the country, that is as close as the secular Republic has to blasphemy. If I were an NFL player, I would strongly consider kneeling at the anthem on First Amendment grounds, out of respect for the greatest liberty America gives us: the right to speak out minds (including the right to worship freely — that’s in the First Amendment too).