Dear Constitution

Standard

Sigh – here we go misinterpreting you again! Yet another public figure says something incredibly stupid, his/her employer punishes him/her and people react by yelling about the First Amendment and the rights to free speech.

Uh – WRONG!

When did people start confusing the rights of CONGRESS to enact laws with the rights of EMPLOYERS to discipline employees? Let’s look at the particular paragraph in question shall we?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

See the emphasis that I put up there on those words? CONGRESS and THE GOVERNMENT. Not – Your Employer..or Your Sponsor..or even Your Mom! No – all that means is that you cannot be put into jail or fined by the state for the crap that flows outta your mouth (or onto a blog post even) unless you are making threats against a public official.

But, Ozzie Guillen voicing his respect for Fidel Castro? Not illegal. Nope, not one bit. And guess what?! No one has arrested him! He hasn’t been given a ticket  by the state of Florida. His rights to free speech have, indeed, NOT been violated.

His employer suspending him for 5 games? Totally legit. You see, his employer has no obligation to allow Ozzie – as a representative of that company – to say whatever he wants to say. (I know some will argue the merits of whether his statements were offensive or not and whether 5 games was enough or too much or whatever. That’s well and good, but remember it is just NOT a violation of free speech so don’t even bring that up!)

The Baseball Nerd covered this point nicely as well.

To expand this further, remember that radio & TV stations can suspend DJs/hosts for saying dumb/offensive things. It’s the same employee/employer relationship. You can still SAY those things all you want, just not into their microphones. Again – not being ticketed, not being put in jail – just being told by your employer quite legally to shut the hell up.  That’s NOT a violation of free speech rights by any stretch.

Yes, this is obviously a sore spot for me. Nothing bugs me more than people not quite grasping such a basic concept. Or, trying to hide behind it when they do blow it. It’s even worse when media talking heads feed into the ignorance.

So anyway, I just wanted to say that I am sorry. Some of us still understand you Constitution. Unfortunately our platforms don’t tend to be as loud as those who get it wrong :-/

With respect, me.

 

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