Letter: First Amendment issue
Originally published Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 05:57a.m.
Re: “NFL beats Trump,” John Micek (9/27/17).
Speaking of Colin Kaepernick “taking the knee” during the pre-game anthem in 2016, Micek derided the response to that event (response by the team owners? the League? the fans? the public? Trump? Micek doesn’t bother to say), describing it as “if he wanted to exercise his constitutional rights to free expression, he could do it on his own time — as if the rights conferred by the First Amendment are somehow situational or constrained by geography.”
Micek is described as “an award-winning political journalist” and opinion editor and political columnist in Pennsylvania. Those credentials are meant to infer that this guy has a base of knowledge that informs his opinions. Well, if he does, it doesn’t show by this piece.
The First Amendment protects us from GOVERNMENT restriction on freedom of expression. Nowhere does Micek connect the negative reaction to Kaepernick in September 2016 to any government action. If Kaepernick felt pressure by the team, the League, or the public, it had nothing to do with the First Amendment.
Of course, obviously, the “right” to express yourself is constrained by situation and geography, and by who is doing the constraining. In September 2016, if a grocery store clerk in San Francisco wore a “Trump” hat to work and added “vote for Trump” to every “have a good day,” how long do you think that clerk would remain employed?
For Micek to say protesting while on the job for a private employer is an infringement on the First Amendment is simply ignorant or just a means to spread divisive sentiment in the country. Shameful.