As I discussed here, the NBA will allow its players to replace the names on the back of their jerseys with political messages. I guess it’s a good thing DeSean Jackson plays in the NFL, rather than the NBA.
Recently, this luminary issued an anti-Semitic statement on Instagram, based on a Hitler quote (apparently fake). Jackson soon issued a less than fully satisfactory apology. However, as Ed Morrissey points out, Jackson’s original tweet has received unapologetic support from other athletes, including former NBA player Stephen Jackson.
As I wrote in connection with the NBA allowing players to become political billboards, this is a young, poorly educated group (DeSean and Stephen Jackson are no longer young though). They have nothing to teach us. No one should care what they say.
Athletes still have the right, of course, to peddle their slogans. However, the NBA shouldn’t allow them to do so during basketball games.
But sports leagues shouldn’t punish players for spewing venom on their own time. In Jackson’s case, his team, the Philadelphia Eagles, said:
[We] reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing, but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect. We are continuing to evaluate the circumstances and will take appropriate action. We take these matters very seriously and are committed to continuing to have productive and meaningful conversations with DeSean, as well as all of our players and staff, in order to educate, learn, and grow.
Every sentence of this statement is rubbish. It’s not Jackson’s job to “promote unity, equality, and respect.” The Eagles have no business evaluating his tweet and its “circumstances.” Nor is it their job to “educate” him.
Bo Wulf of The Athletic had this to say:
It’s valid to suggest the Eagles should simply release Jackson. And if their understanding from knowing Jackson as an employee for eight years is that his dissemination of hate speech is an accurate representation of his worldview, then that is what they should do.
What? Deny employment to a football player because of his worldview? That would be an outrage in a free country.
I can understand why self-appointed members of the speech police might want to make an example of Jackson. They might think that doing so will exempt them from charges of hypocrisy as they use the concept of “hate speech” to circumscribe what conservatives are allowed to say. Indeed, Ed Morrissey rightly notes the hypocrisy of football players trashing Drew Brees for his statements about respecting the National Anthem, while apparently turning a blind eye to Jackson’s raw anti-Semitism.
But hypocrisy is a chronic, garden-variety problem. Suppression of free expression is a problem of a higher order. It represents a growing threat to our society.
Am I offended by DeSean Jackson’s statement about members of my religion? Yes, but considering the sources, only a little bit.
I’m more offended by the notion that, in America, employers can try to influence what their employees say about issues unrelated to the job and, if unhappy enough about what they say, fire them.