Cheap Seats 2018
Freedom to be Stupid - 05/30
By Rich Trzupek
It’s simply fascinating how seemingly intelligent people can get themselves worked up into a nonsensical fit of stupidity over concepts that should be self-evident to a five year old. The left’s outrage over the NFL’s new policy for standing during the “National Anthem” is a case in point.
This is not a freedom of speech issue. Anyone who claims it is a freedom of speech issue is a moron or a liar. This is a workplace behavior issue. Period. Full stop. No further discussion should be required.
And yet, further discussion is apparently required because seemingly intelligent people like Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr cannot discern the difference between the two concepts. Among other stupid things Kerr felt obliged to spout out regarding the NFL’s new rule, was this insipid defense of the kneelers: “It’s a representation of what we’re about, which is diversity, peaceful protests, abilities, right to free speech.”
Michael Moore, who can of course be counted on to say something brainless and boorish whenever patriotism is involved chimed in with his usual dose of snark: “What better time to curtail free speech than during the National Anthem!”
Every employer expects his employee to behave in certain ways while on the job. Every employee is expected to perform certain actions and not perform other actions. These are conditions of employment and an employer has the right to terminate any employee who doesn’t follow the prescribed code of conduct.
I would suspect, for example, that Steve Kerr would look askance at any player who choose to express their disgust with the practice of female genital mutilation by shouting lectures to the crowd about the issue from the bench in the middle of a game. Kerr would, I assume, tell the fellow that there is a time and place for that sort of thing and this is neither the time nor the place.
Similarly, I think it’s safe to say that Michael Moore would not long keep in his employ a sound guy who continually criticized every shot Moore set up, yelling “that’s a stupid angle you fat idiot,” or “you’ve got the lighting all wrong chubby” or the like.
In both of my hypothetical examples, the theoretical employee is expressing his or her opinion regarding issues they feel passionately about – the abuse of women in one case and the abuse of the cinematic art in the other – which they have every right to do. That’s freedom of expression.
However, freedom of expression is not and never has been a guarantee of employment. Kerr and Moore are equally free to fire these employees for violating workplace standards that they choose to enforce, in their role as management and agents of the owners of the enterprises they are working for.
There are a multitude or rude, disrespectful, crass and otherwise improper behaviors that no employer will tolerate. Some of those behaviors may be rooted in good causes, many of them are not. It doesn’t matter. The employer gets to set the conditions for employment, so long as those conditions do not violate any laws or an individual’s rights.
Kerr and Moore and people like them who believe that institutional racism is a huge problem in America today are free to express that flawed opinion. Athletes are free to express it too. The NFL owners are merely telling their players what employers have been telling employees since the dawn of time: when you’re working for me, you’re going to follow my rules.