Swindle: First Amendment consequences

Published 8:30 pm Sunday, October 8, 2017

Some of you may remember my column from a few months ago about comedian Kathy Griffin, who created a gory scene by holding up a bloody head resembling that of the president.

I mentioned that our Founders knew that to protect us all from government censored speech, they had to protect people like Griffin.

But, while the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, it does not provide for the freedom from consequences of our speech.

However, Griffin’s one display of defining the phrase “lack of class” pales in comparison to some football players, owners, and employees of the teams in the National Football League.

The public acts of disrespect toward our national anthem, flag, military forces, men and women of all races and our entire society began over a year when a reserve quarterback decided to further divide a nation in desperate need of healing. He refused to stand for the national anthem and remained on the bench, where he stayed during the entire game and has been ever since.

Now, his act has been copied by many others in the NFL. None of these protesters seem to care about how their behavior hurts their fellow NFL players who were raised to honor our flag and are disgusted by these protests. The protesters and non-protesters will share the same fate as anyone financially associated with the NFL.

NFL owners, players and employees have the right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Here, action or inaction, is speech. As Americans, we are fortunate that our Founding Fathers provided for the First Amendment. Without it, we would be without a freedom that is necessary for a free society to thrive.

However, the NFL is a business. Businesses must have customers (or fans) to survive. When a business seriously offends a substantial portion of their customers, the business suffers from reduced profits, losses, and sometimes collapse.

According to the Sporting News, 33 percent of NFL viewers are boycotting games because of these “protests.” Today, the NFL’s television ratings are down across the board. The drop in ratings and viewership is unprecedented in recent years and has occurred during the protest of the national anthem.

By some people exercising their First Amendment rights in such a manner, everyone connected to the NFL, regardless of whether they participated, will see their income decline for a very long time. If there is one thing that brings almost all Americans together, it is the anthem and flag. The NFL is not bigger than America.

And, Americans do not forget.

Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group in Carrollton.