Who is Responsible for Kaepernick’s Unemployment?

Who is Responsible for Kaepernick’s Unemployment? August 3, 2017

Some NFL analysis have argued that Colin Kaepernick has effectively been blackballed through from the league. Several have commented about his non-signing. For example, FiveThirtyEight notes how unusual for a quarterback of his skill to not yet be signed. Jason Reid argues that fear of fan backlash seems to be the reason why he is not being signed. I think they are right. Kaepernick is not an elite quarterback, but he is clearly good enough to at least play a backup role next season.

I should join this protest at his non-hiring. After all I pride myself on my stance on free speech. I really do not care about what Kaepernick has to say. I do not look for wisdom about our social order from an average NFL ball player. But I should care that he is essentially being fired for speaking his piece. And yet I don’t. Let the chips fall where they may.

The reason for my apathy is simple. Many of the same people showing concern for Kaepernick were very quiet when Eric Walsh, Brendan Eich, Benham brothers and others were being fired for not supporting same-sex marriage. No, I do not expect sport writers to care about their firing, but many of the complaints have come from activists who had every right to set a standard of free speech when Walsh, Eich and the Benhams were under attack.

By the way, Kaepernick did his protest while at work, if you will. He protested during the National Anthem of football games. Walsh was fired for sermons he made in his own church, away from work. Eich was pressured away from his position for a contribution he made, once again not at work. The Benham brothers were removed for speaking at a rally against same-sex marriage, not for what they did during their show. So if people can be fired for what they say outside of the job, why would Kaepernick be safe for his protest on the job?

I remember reading a bit about why it was okay to fire these individuals. The line was that you have a right to free speech but you are not free of the consequences. It is a stupid line when you think about it. I mean technically that applies to anything. I am free to speed in my car, but I am not free from paying the consequences which will be a ticket.

So the comeback is that you should not be punished by the government, but you can by others for your speech. This line of attack does not even hold up in the Walsh case since he was fired from a government job. Amazing how far people will go to hide their bigotry against those with different religious beliefs.

So why can we not apply the same logic here. Kaepernick is free to say what he wants but not from the consequences. In this case the consequence is the chance to play in the NFL. If you accept the logic for why the others were fired, then it is pretty hypocritical to ignore that logic now.

Now you may call me a hypocrite for not fighting for Kaepernick like I was willing to for Eric Walsh. But you would be wrong. You see, I do not think progressives are willing to consider the rights of non-leftists until they face the same fate. I am perfectly willing to support Kaepernick being given fair treatment. But as long as the voices protesting what is happening to Kaepernick insist on being silent when it is a conservative Christian, then count me out. I will not support a double standard where progressives can bring their views to work while cultural conservatives can be fired for voicing opinions away from work.

At the time of this writing, there is a chance of a last minute signing for Kaepernick by the Baltimore Ravens. If he gets signed, then he will have been given more grace than Walsh, Eich and the Benhams. If he does not get signed, then it is tough luck. He is now in an environment where we have watered down free speech. He is suffering from that new reality.

So if you want to know who is responsible for creating an environment where Kaepernick may not get a job, then please stop looking towards conservatives. They did not sabotage free speech in this way. It was the anti-free speech left that did this. I think a lot of Christian conservatives would be quite willing to call a truce on getting people fired for their political or religious opinions. I am not very confident that those invested in firing conservative Christians, who affirm traditional morality, feel the same way. Maybe if a couple more political progressives lose their jobs, then that will change.


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  • Graham

    I don’t follow the logic here. It sounds like you won’t speak out about x being wrong, even though you agree with group “a” that it is wrong, until group “a” speak out against “y” being wrong.
    But this sounds like a mexican standoff. Why not try and create a bipartisan coalition that speaks out about each wrong?

    • George Yancey

      I would love a bipartisan solution. But I fear that to get there we will first make sure there is not a double standard that takes away the incentive of one side to make the proper compromises.

      • Graham

        I’m not sure I understand. Pro-p.o.c. rights speech often gets the treatment Colin Kapernic* gets from my observation. However, I’m yet to see a case where a white cultural progressive gets censored for speech on a pro-abortion/gaymarriage/insert cultural progressive view here. So I don’t see where such an incentive exists. I suppose if a white nfl player got in trouble for a blm stance that might be different if such an example exists (although even in that case it might still be compatible with the view that pro-p.o.c. rights speech gets supressed)

        Also are you sure this is primarily a left wing problem. Granted I’m on the other side of the world but a couple of comments below seem to suggest that at least some on the right are ok with censoring left wing speech but not right wing speech.

        *(excuse spelling too lazy to google)

        • George Yancey

          You are correct that cultural progressive speech rarely gets censored. The fact that it is not censored while more conservative speech is censored is what makes this a left wing problem.

          • Graham

            But I think pro BLM statments is a category of speech that frequently gets censored if its made by a person of colour (I suspect a white person can get away with it with impunity) and anti-black censorship has been around for so long without providing any incentive for white cultural progressives to worry about censoring cultural conservatives (even though white cultural progressives agree with BLM and their predecessors). So I don’t see a tactical reason for staying on the sidelines rather than trying to build a non-partisan pro free speech coalition

          • George Yancey

            I think a lot of progressives worry about pro-BLM comments being censored even if white cultural progressives are not censored. That may be the building block so that we may reach a non-partisan agreement to stop firing people due to political disagreements.

          • Graham

            count me skeptical. Progressives have always been sympathetic to pro-black causes and pro black causes have always had censorship problems more than any other progressive cause (although economic progressive causes might receive soft censorship due to the desire for news agencies wanting to please wealthy owners, editors and advertisers). Perhaps progressives have a lower priority on pro-black causes or perhaps they are so used to it they have developed an immunity. Or perhaps suffering from anti-free speech actions doesn’t cause you to be pro-free speech it just causes you to be angry with the other side and look for tit-for tat (taking away conservative speech)

  • Mark Markster

    Perhaps sporting events should ONLY have the sporting event – namely the elimination of the National Anthem. This would allow players to be evaluated only for their skill and eliminate the focus on their actions when not in play.

  • John Joseph Flanagan

    There is a difference between athletes opposing same sex marriage, and an athlete being disloyal and unpatriotic to the flag and country. The fans will not and should not put up with it. The NFL teams know this guy is too toxic.

  • Stefanie

    I actually always thought it was within the rights of the NFL to fire whoever they want, because freedom of speech only protects you from government interference. A private employer has the right to fire you. I only had a problem with Trump chiming in on it. He is definitely not a private person and he called for people who kneel for the national anthem to be fired and that is not okay.
    I don’t really care if it is unpatriotic to for someone to not stand, you cannot force patriotism neither should you. For some people it even goes against their conscience to stand for the flag and the national anthem. Only fascist countries encourage forced displays of patriotism.