The debate surrounding the NFL is not about whether the players’ speech is protected by the First Amendment. It is.

The issue is where do we want to be exposed to political speech? Should we be exercising our freedom of speech anywhere and anytime we wish to? Or is there an inherent responsibility attached?

Shouldn’t civility and decorum — the recognition that there’s a place and time for when we engage in political speech —be part of the discussion?

We must decide whether captive audiences, gathered for reasons outside the realm of politics (entertainment/sports, celebrations, dining, shopping), are now going to be subjected to the interjection of political activism.

I’ve heard the argument that the issues these players are bringing to light are too important to ignore. The nobility of their issues is irrelevant to this debate. Their cause could be unassailable. The debate is should they be addressing their issues in this forum? They can be as politically active as they want — in a forum where we have the expectation of political speech.

The players’ messages are lost because their exercised freedom of speech is out of bounds. We see individuals disrupting an event, which we all look forward to, where we come together, forget about our differences and stand side-by-side, unified in our enjoyment.

For the sake of societal sanity, we need to preserve these unifying events. We need to employ civility and decorum in exercising our freedom of speech. It benefits us all.

T.C. Collins, La Crosse

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