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Do you have freedom of speech at your workplace?

 

Many people are defending the disgraceful actions of NFL players who are kneeling during the flag as nothing more than American citizens exercising their freedom of speech. The obvious response is that, while the players do have the right to do so, all Americans should always honor our flag and our national anthem out of respect for those who have given their lives in the past to preserve those freedoms.

But an equally valid response is that these players should not do so because they are employees representing their company while performing their job. They are not on that field as private citizens. They are there to perform their job and their actions are representative of their company. If an employee acts in a disrespectful manner while on the job, a company that does not address their behavior condones it.

What if a office worker starting their workday by loudly proclaiming that they don’t like black people before sitting down at their desk to start their work. The worker would be using their First Amendment right but I don’t think anybody would say that is acceptable behavior. And I believe people would expect the company to take action against that employee. If the company did not take action, then people would say that the company is condoning that workers statements.

Would it be appropriate for a public bus driver to get on the microphone and start discussing their political views to the passengers while they drove around the city? Would it be appropriate for a boxing match announcer to make a political statement before announcing the boxers at the beginning of the fight? The reason most would say instinctively that this would not be appropriate is that there is no way either example doesn’t offend a significant percentage of their audience. And their audience is not there to hear their views.

This is equally true of NFL players at a football game. Their audience is not there to see or hear their political views. The players are there to perform a job. And when they choose to make a personal political statement on the job then their employer has a responsibility to make it clear that their company does not condone that action.

As a Miami Dolphins fan, I am used to disappointing seasons. But I have never been so disappointed with that organization as I was when I heard the owner of the Miami Dolphins condone the actions of his players. You are not a fine young man, as he called them, if you are disrespecting our flag and our national anthem. You were disrespecting my country and you were disrespecting me. Miami Dolphins players Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, Julius Thomas and Maurice Smith took a knee as a political statement during the national anthem. They should be fined and and told they will be suspended without pay if they repeat their actions. But the owners will not do that because of upcoming contract talks with their players union. Instead, many of them (including Miami Dolphins owner) are backing their players instead of their fans. This despite the fact that is official NFL policy that players stand respectfully for the anthem.

This is going to cost the NFL. The NFL commissioner and owners have miscalculated very badly. They’re asking their fans to put aside their love of country for their love of a football team. Guess which one is going to win. They are going to have to back down and respect the wishes of their fans. If they do not, then I and many other fans will show our displeasure by not supporting those teams.

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