I have also written on the subject:
Monday, August 28, 2017, Berkeley Mayor Wants to Cancel Conservative Free Speech Rally Because of Possible Violence by Left-Wing Groups
The point Parker made so eloquently in her book is that the American tradition of free speech should protect all speech, including those views set forth by conservative speakers, and that liberals need to condemn attempts to silence views on the right. After all, some day it might be conservatives who are trying to silence the speech of liberals.
That day came on Friday.
At a rally for Alabama Senator Luther Strange facing a special election for the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump condemned NFL players who refused to stand for the national anthem and said that the owners should fire them. He reiterated that view in subsequent tweets.
I find the players actions at best misguided and at worst deplorable. The protest is supposed to be about raising the issue of racism. But the protest does not do that at all. Instead the protesting players are slapping the face of all those who have fought and died so that we can have the freedoms we Americans enjoy, including the freedom those players have to earn millions of dollars playing a game one day a week. Those players might have as well gone up and spit on the flag and what it represents.
But it is exactly because of what that flag stands for that we should respect and allow the protests to continue. The flag stands for the freedom to express one's views, especially those that are political, i.e are about a matter of public concern.
Now I am well aware that the Free Speech Clause does not apply to private businesses, such as the NFL. And, yes, the team owners can almost certainly legally fire the players for their objectionable speech. But just because the action would be legal, does not mean it is right. Free speech is not just part of a constitutional amendment. It is an essential characteristic of American society and a bedrock principle of our political system. If people are constantly threatened with their jobs if they dare express their views publicly then robust political debate is silenced and we all suffer as a result.
Sadly, we have a President who has long declared open hostility to the American tradition of free speech. Candidate Trump attacked American free speech during the campaign., even suggesting that the requirement of "actual malice" for libel actions be done away with. Trump warmly praised dictators who violently put down public protests and kill journalists who write negative stories about those dictators. He is the first President since John Adams who has argued that Americans actually have too much free speech. Even before entering the world of politics, Trump was well-known for suing (or threatening to sue) anyone who had the temerity to speak ill of him publicly.
Unfortunately, too many of my Republican friends have tossed aside their conservative principles to back the President's over-the-top assertion that these NFL players should be fired by their employers. In doing so, they are eschewing Constitutional principles and embracing the liberal tactics of suppressing unpopular free speech, i.e. speech liberals do not like If those tactics are wrong for liberals, they are also wrong when done by conservatives.
The answer to unpopular speech is not to silence that speech, but to counter it with other speech. By all means let's roundly condemn those players who insult the grand principles for which our great country stands. But, as one of those principles is the right to speak out on matters of public concern, let's stop short of demanding that speech be silenced by firing the speakers. For conservatives to do otherwise makes them no better than the liberals.