In America, we have the right to free speech. That means that most speech is lawful and there is no legal sanction for exercising that right. Note the word “legal” sanction. That doesn’t mean we have the right to say what we want without consequence. It simply means that the government cannot arrest you or imprison you for exercising that right.
You may not like what someone says. You may not like how they say it. Everyone in the United States has the right to say whatever they want. They also have the concomitant responsibility to accept the consequences.
Certainly you have heard that you don’t have the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. That’s not true. You do have that right. But, you also have the responsibility to accept the results of your choice. Which means, in this particular instance, a likely jail or prison sentence.
So, when someone chooses to exercise their right to free speech in a stylized protest using their employer’s venues and the publicity attendant with events brought about by that employer, do they have the equal right to demand that there be no consequences? Do they have the right to use a venue someone else pays for to promote their agenda? Do they have the right to use a platform that they did not pay for to do the same? Do they have the right to do so even if it costs the employer money? No, they don’t. Not in America.
The Constitution guarantees the right to free speech. It doesn’t guarantee the right to be heard, or that others are required to listen, or that others are required to agree. Nor does it require that those who own a venue, or pay for a platform, accept or tolerate someone using either to promote their personal agenda. It also doesn’t guarantee that there will not be any non-physical repercussions from private parties – like potential employers.
Take Colin Kaepernick, for example. Here’s a guy who was making millions as a quarterback in the NFL. Here’s a guy who decides he has to make a statement about the “oppression” of non-whites in the US. He has no evidence. He has no proof. But, it’s his opinion and he has an absolute right to that opinion. In an effort to draw attention to his claim of oppression, Kaepernick decides he will take a knee every time the national anthem is played at football games his team is involved in, in the team’s stadium (or other stadiums where his team is playing), using someone else’s platform (broadcasts). The response of the public is not good.
NFL television and cable ratings plummet. Attendance drops. People are pissed off and not accepting of Kaepernick’s method of protest, not to mention what they perceived of as his lies about “oppression”. The NFL loses a lot of money.
Did Kaepernick get arrested? No. Did the government threaten him? No. Did he suffer consequences for his choices? Yes. And he is still suffering those consequences.
Kaepernick essentially quit his football team (the San Francisco 49ers) in March of this year by opting out of his contract. He has not been picked up by any other NFL team as of this date.
Now, there is a concerted effort by SJWs and race-hustlers (Spike Lee, primarily) to demand that some NFL team hire Kaepernick. They assert that he is being discriminated against for his actions and, therefore, the failure to hire him is some kind of conspiracy. But, is it?
We’ve already established that no one has the constitutional right to be heard or to use a platform they do not own or pay for to promote their views. That would include NFL stadiums, the broadcasts that the NFL pays for, and any appearances that are due to the NFL and Kaepernick’s employment by his team.
That does not mean that Kaepernick could not have chosen to hold his own press conferences, protest somewhere else. He has the right to do that so long as he doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.
Kaepernick’s actions were divisive, at best. Since his choice to opt out of his contract, he has failed to be picked up by another team. People associated with various teams have stated that he is disliked, that his actions alienated them, that no one is willing to give him the chance to further abuse the venues and platforms any team membership would provide him. The business aspect is sound. You don’t hire people who hurt your bottom line. And the NFL knows that if they allow Kaepernick back into that organization doing so will directly result in a lower bottom line.
Businesses are not required to commit financial suicide in support of the rights of Americans. Kaepernick should have thought this through. He didn’t. Now, he’s paying the price. Those who assert it is discrimination to decline to hire someone who has violated the trust of employment in such a public manner are advancing a mendacious argument, at best. That isn’t discrimination, that’s the right of others to freely associate and to ignore those they don’t agree with. And that’s the reality of life.