With the level of social activism and exercising of First Amendment Rights, why are so many people of influence staying quiet? Colin Kaepernick has been a lightning rod for criticism over the last few months, and with the growing number of people across America getting involved in protests aimed at improving race relations, there’s seems to be an expectation that we should remain silent.
We’ve seen so many individuals, like legendary Chicago Bears player & coach Mike Ditka, take the stance of “leave the country” if you don’t salute the American flag. With atrocities occurring on a seemingly regular basis, and the growing belief of people that “the American dream” isn’t being shared across all of America’s people, there’s a growing contingent that disagree with the fact that there is a disparity among the inhabitants of this country.
It seems that every time a message is relayed, the meaning gets twisted and misconstrued, to unjustifiably incite anger and uprising. Black Lives Matter was never aimed to say that other lives don’t matter. It was simply pointing out that black lives aren’t being treated like they are worth as much as other lives. Colin Kaepernick specifically stated that he has no issues with the United States military, and that his kneeling is in result of the flag, the representative of the morals, beliefs, and constitutional rights that this country was founded upon, does not apply to all people. Somehow, his message, among other messages, has been given the perspective of anti-police, or somehow meant to threaten others. Black people never asked for others to be treated like us. Black people simply asked to be treated like everyone else.
In some cases, voicing your opinion, and using your Constitutional right of Freedom of Speech, can cost you your job. Recently, a young caucasian officer posted a picture on social media with a caption that read, “I’m the law today nigga.” She was immediately fired. The image has undergone intense scrutiny for the message, but some are saying that exercising her right to say what she wants, when she wants, and being punished for it is a clear violation of the Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t designate whether a message is positive or negative, just that you are free to deliver that message. While the young woman stated that the message was a “mistake,” it was clear that her employer didn’t share her sentiments, relieving her of her duty to protect and serve. Should employers be allowed to terminate your employment simply because of your personal stance? When that personal stance or personal actions can be a potential to those around you, I would have to say yes.
With that being said, should jobs be lost of those who share the message of social equality? If the particular employer doesn’t agree with it, then again, I would have to answer yes. While, we can’t expect people to remain silent on injustice, we have to understand that there is a time and a place to be vocal, and we also have to understand the ramifications of action. Now, if an employer terminates someone for being vocal about injustice, I would fully expect that employer to explain why they don’t agree, especially with all of the examples of social injustice on a daily basis. But, along with at-will employment, also comes the fact that most employers don’t need to explain why you’ve been terminated.
Remember, here in America, you have the right to say whatever you feel, but sometimes it comes with a cost. You also have the right to remain silent. Be mindful when and where you choose to exercise your rights.