NFL’s National Anthem Policy Exposes Free Speech Hypocrisy of Right, Left, and Trump “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem,” Trump says, “or you shouldn’t be playing.”

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Donald Trump, who won the presidency in part by promising voters he would stand against the oppression of political correctness, is now taking a victory lap after successfully pressuring the National Football League to protect the delicate feelings of its snowflake audience.

The NFL announced yesterday that all players on the field during the singing of the national anthem would be forbidden to kneel, sit, or show any disrespect whatsoever. Teams that allow players to publicly protest racism and police brutality will be subject to fines. Players will be expected to confine their dissent to the locker room, concealing it from easily offended consumers of sports entertainment. GOP spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany summarized the new policy thusly during an appearance on Kennedy last night:

Players will respect our military, they will respect what our flag stands for and the unity of what our national anthem stands for, and if they don’t want to respect it, they can take a hike and go to the locker room. Now everyone has to respect our military, including multimillion-dollar football players.

The new policy is undoubtedly crafted to appease not just some viewers but Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the NFL for failing to punish the defiant players. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still, I think it’s good,” Trump said on Fox and Friends this morning. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted the news, adding a single remark: “#WINNING.”

Sadly, the NFL’s bowing to Trump’s whims may indeed be a win of sorts for this administration. It will please the many conservatives who routinely complain that the campus left is hypersensitive but embrace the victim role when the shoe is on the other foot. Just take a look at the Twitter feed of Turning Points USA Director Charlie Kirk, a well-known critic of political correctness on campus.

Kirk’s pinned tweet is video footage of him discussing campus culture with Sean Hannity, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. “College campuses have become a place where the administrators and the elites want everybody to look different but think the same,” Kirk explains. “And it’s all about conformity. If you have any point of dissension from the status quo of liberal orthodoxy, you will be punished.” Just under the pinned tweet is Kirk’s most recent tweet: “Stand for the national anthem!” Talk about conformity.

The NFL is of course a private entity, and requiring players to stand for the anthem isn’t a First Amendment violation. But as National Review‘s David French points out in a terrific New York Times op-ed piece, Google, Mozilla, and Yale are all private too. Yet conservatives see nothing wrong with bemoaning these entities’ internal crackdowns on speech. Indeed, concern that social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are censoring conservatives is now a major concern for the right. There was even a panel discussion about it at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

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.

Ironically, the best defense of the NFL’s new protest ban is an argument most often put forward by leftists who defend disinvitations and shut-downs of offensive speakers on campus. I have frequently seen the following XKCD cartoon posted in response to such incidents:

PoliMath @politicalmath

Guys. The NFL ban on kneeling is absolutely awful and I hate it. It is anti free speech.
It is also 100% in line with the “showing you the door” attitude on free speech you’ve been pushing the last several years.
Please think hard about that.

The government was partly involved in the NFL case, since Trump’s displeasure was a motivating factor. But there’s little doubt the league was also trying to appease some viewers who were uncomfortable with the players’ protests. This is what comes from defending a safe-space mentality: more safe spaces, and not just on the campus quad but in football stadiums as well.

By Robby Soave/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Trump pushes for stronger border in wake of Colts’ Edwin Jackson killing

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President Donald Trump urged for tougher border security Tuesday after Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson was reportedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in a vehicle collision.

Image: Darron Cummings/AP Photo

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson,” he tweeted. “This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!”

Prior to the president’s tweets, however, Chad Bouchez, Jackson’s roommate, said during a CBS interview, that Jackson would not want his death politicized. “He would not want that,” Bouchez said. “I don’t think Edwin would have judged anyone on where they were from or anything else. ”

The man accused of hitting Jackson and his Uber driver with his vehicle in Indianapolis on Sunday had been deported twice, according to Indiana State Police. Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, might have entered the U.S. on or around July 1, 2004, according to an email Monday from Nicole Alberico, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to CNN, an ICE statement said the accused also has other “misdemeanor criminal convictions and arrests in California and Indiana.

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Bill Would Require NFL Team to Refund Snowflake Fans Offended by National Anthem Protests If fans of the Indianapolis Colts are going to be offended by something, it should be their team’s on-field performance this season.

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When Indiana State Rep. Milo Smith left the Indianapolis Colts’ Sept. 24 game, he felt triggered.

Not because his Colts played terribly, although they did a lot of that in a year they won only four games (including the one Rep. Smith attended) and finished dead last in their division. No, it was because Smith had personally witnessed a handful of the Colts’ players take a knee during the national anthem.

Smith (R-Columbus) was so offended he introduced a bill last week that would require the Indianapolis Colts to offer refunds to fans who purchase tickets if those fans are also offended by players kneeling for the national anthem.

“To me when they take a knee during the national anthem, it’s not respecting the national anthem or our country,” Smith told the Indy Star. “I’m pretty patriotic, and it didn’t sit right with me.”

A gross abuse of legislative office? A misguided attempt to impose government force on a private transaction? A potential violation of the U.S. Constitution? Smith’s proposal is all three.

“His proposed law is an absurd assault on the First Amendment because it tackles, if you will, political speech of the players by exerting economic pressure on their employer, the Indianapolis Colts,” says Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana. “The First Amendment protects each of us from government controlling what we say, and it certainly protects businesses and their employees from government regulation that seeks to discourage speech based on its content.”

Smith is, of course, free to express his disagreement with the players’ decision to kneel for the anthem. He’s completely free to voice those opinions to newspapers like the Indy Star or to post on social media—like President Donald Trump has done, often, throughout the current football season. He’s also free to stop buying tickets to Colts’ games, stop watching National Football League games on TV, and to request a refund from the team for the game he attended in September (good luck with that last one).

Being a member of the state legislature does not give Smith the right to legislate against every little thing that offends him. It’s no better than would-be senator Roy Moore arguing that it’s illegal to kneel during the anthem. It’s no better than the suggestion, made by Trump in September, that NFL teams should fire players who protest the anthem.

Those protests, by the way, started as a way to make a point about police brutality against blacks—something that’s been largely forgotten as the protests and reactions to them were subsumed by political tribalism once Trump got involved.

Conservative snowflakes who turn to government as a means of solving their problems, whether in the Indiana statehouse or the White House, will end up like the Colts did this season—big, big losers.

By Eric Boehm/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Colin Kaepernick a finalist for ‘TIME’ Person of Year

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XXX IMG_2017_8_29_KAEPERNICK_1_1_0SJFJKT8.JPG

Image: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick was announced Monday as one of 10 candidates for TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017.

Kaepernick, who last played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, joins President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and the #MeToo movement, among others, on the short list for recognition. Each year, the magazine strives to identify “the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year, for better or for worse.”

Trump was recognized by the magazine in 2016, and German chancellor Angela Merkel was its 2015 recipient. TIME will announce its latest “Person of the Year” on Wednesday.

Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem last year, describing it as a means of protesting police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. He became a free agent in March and has yet to sign with an NFL team this season, prompting him to file a collusion grievance against NFL owners.

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NFL, Players Coalition reach accord to provide nearly $90 million to aid activism; anthem protests unresolved

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Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) is a leader of a group of NFL players discussing a deal with the league regarding its support of player activism. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

NFL player representatives and league officials reached an agreement Wednesday night for the league to provide financial support to players’ community-activism endeavors, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.

The tentative agreement does not directly address the ongoing protests by players during the national anthem, multiple people familiar close to the situation said earlier in the evening.

Owners have been hopeful that an agreement with the players on activism would lead all players to voluntarily stand for the anthem. But divisions on the players’ side that became evident earlier Wednesday could lead to the protests continuing even with the deal in place.

The tentative agreement is subject to approval by NFL owners. The owners are scheduled to meet in December in Dallas but might not take up the issue until the annual league meeting in March.

The league and teams are to provide approximately $90 million between the onset of the arrangement and 2023 to social causes deemed important by the players, focused in particular on African American communities, a person familiar with the talks confirmed earlier Wednesday. The terms of the league’s proposal were first reported Wednesday morning by ESPN.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been active in the discussions and has been dealing directly with players, especially those in a group known as the Players Coalition led by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Earlier Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas announced they were withdrawing from the Players Coalition, citing differences with Jenkins and Boldin about how discussions with the league were proceeding.

Reid is closely associated with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the protest movement last season. Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem before games to protest the treatment of African Americans by police in the United States.

Reid joined Kaepernick in those protests and is among the players who have continued to protest during the anthem this season, drawing harsh criticism by President Trump and some fans. The defections of Reid and Thomas from the group of players dealing with the league seem to greatly reduce or eliminate the chances that the agreement will end the players’ protests entirely.

Representatives of the players met with owners and NFL leaders in October at the NFL’s offices in New York. The owners then held their regularly scheduled fall meeting and left without enacting a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem.

Goodell and owners said then that they want players to stand for the anthem. But they said that most owners were not ready to take action to require it. Goodell and the owners said they were focused instead on their discussions with the players about activism. They cautioned, however, that there was no explicit or implied agreement that league support of players’ activism necessarily would lead to all players standing for the anthem.

Some owners believe that, if the protests last through season’s end, owners will act during the offseason to revert next season to the league’s pre-2009 policy of players remaining in the locker room before games until after the anthem is played, according to multiple people close to the situation.

By Mark Maske/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

ESPN president announces another round of layoffs

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ESPN president John Skipper announced in a memo to employees Wednesday that the company is laying off approximately 150 employees.

Skipper wrote in the memo that the majority of the eliminated positions are in studio production, digital content and technology rather than front-facing talent.

“We will continue to invest in ways which will best position us to serve the modern sports fan and support the success of our business,” Skipper wrote.

Sporting News first reported last month that ESPN would be making another round of layoffs. Those affected will receive severance pay, a 2017 bonus and the continuation of health benefits, according to the memo.

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Colin Kaepernick files grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding against him

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed after a 2016 season in which he began the movement of players protesting during the national anthem, has filed a grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding to keep him out of the league, his legal representatives said.

Kaepernick retained Los Angeles-based attorney Mark J. Geragos to pursue the collusion claim and, according to a person with knowledge of the filing, it will be Kaepernick’s outside legal representation and not the NFL Players Association primarily in charge of preparing and presenting his case.

Geragos’s firm confirmed the grievance, saying it filed “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”

In a statement, the law firm’ also said: “If the NFL . . . is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government. . . . Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.”

 

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union prohibits teams from conspiring to make decisions about signing a player. But the CBA also says the mere fact that a player is unsigned and evidence about the player’s qualifications to be on an NFL roster do not constitute proof of collusion.

For that reason, such cases are difficult to prove, according to legal experts.

“There has to be some evidence of an agreement between multiple teams not to sign a player,” said Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University. “Disagreement over personnel decisions, as obvious as it may seem to someone looking at this, does not provide evidence of collusion. There has to be some evidence of an explicit or implied agreement. There has to be proof of a conspiracy.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following last season, making him a free agent eligible to sign with any team. The 49ers have said they would have released Kaepernick rather than retaining him under the terms of that deal. He has remained out of work, being passed over by other teams in favor of other quarterbacks. The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens considered signing Kaepernick but decided against doing so.

More recently, the Tennessee Titans signed Brandon Weeden to provide depth behind backup Matt Cassel when their starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota, was hurt. That signing seemed particularly inflammatory to Kaepernick supporters who cited Kaepernick’s superior career accomplishments. Kaepernick has led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games and he threw 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions for them last season.

The NFLPA issued a written statement late Sunday saying it learned of Kaepernick’s grievance through media reports and that it had learned the league previously was informed of Kaepernick’s intention to file the grievance.

“Our union has a duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him,” the NFLPA’s written statement said, adding that it had been in regular contact with Kaepernick’s representatives over the past year about his options and planned to schedule a call for this week with his advisers.

Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before games last season to protest, he said, racial inequality and police mistreatment of African Americans in the United States. Those protests were taken up by other players and the controversy over them has been amplified this season even with Kaepernick out of the league.

President Trump called on NFL owners to “fire” players who protested during the anthem, referring to such a player as a “son of a bitch.” Vice President Pence walked out of a game last week between the 49ers and Colts in Indianapolis, citing players’ protests. Trump indicated that he had orchestrated that plan.

Under pressure from the White House, NFL owners are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in New York and might seek the NFLPA’s support of a measure for players to stand for the anthem, according to multiple people familiar with the sport’s inner workings, while also pledging league support for players’ community activism efforts.

Some media members have contended since the offseason that Kaepernick was being blackballed by NFL teams based on his political stance. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners were asked about that contention on a number of occasions and denied that teams were acting in concert on Kaepernick because of his protests.

“Each team makes individual decisions on how they can improve their team,” Goodell at conclusion of NFL owners’ meeting in May in Chicago. “If they see an opportunity to improve their team, they do it. They evaluate players. They evaluate systems and coaches. They all make those individual decisions to try and improve their team.”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told reporters in July, according to the Palm Beach Post: “I would sure hope not. I know a lot’s been written about it, but you know owners and coaches — they’ll do anything it takes to win. If they think he can help them win, I’m sure — I would hope they would sign him.”

The plan for Kaepernick to pursue a grievance under the CBA was first reported by Bleacher Report.

“It may seem obvious to Colin Kaepernick,” Feldman said in a phone interview Sunday. “It may seem obvious to someone on the outside looking at this. But collusion requires an agreement [between teams]. Individual team decisions are not challengeable under the anti-collusion provision. An arbitrator is not going to second-guess an individual team’s personnel decision.”

If such evidence of collusion by NFL teams against Kaepernick exists, it has yet to revealed.

“We don’t know,” Feldman said. “Obviously everybody is talking about the baseball collusion cases from the 1980s, where there was a smoking gun. There were notes. There was strong evidence. There may be evidence here of collusion. We just don’t know.”

The NFL declined to comment Sunday through a spokesman.

“No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making,” the CBA says, adding that applies to “whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player” and “whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player,” among other things.

The CBA also says: “The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth … above.”

By Mark Maske/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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