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Let's be clear on 1st Amendment

Since the election of President Trump, there seems to be a whole lot of confusion concerning the protections granted by the First Amendment. First, journalists and media outlets claiming a violation of their rights because the President calls them "fake news." Then, the NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest, at first, police brutality against blacks, now appearing to have morphed into America being a racist country, to, this weekend, the NFL players all standing arm-in-arm to protest President Trump's opinion that NFL players kneeling during the Anthem should be fired.

The first amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and religion, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. These freedoms mean that anyone exercising these rights, whether we agree or disagree with the content, cannot be punished by the government. If a person wishes to stand on a street corner, shouting filthy racist insults, they have the right, as long as they are not physically confrontational. You have the same right to go tell them they are wrong. The government can do nothing to stop you. Media can write and broadcast mostly whatever they want without punishment. They can be sued by individuals for deliberate libel in civil court, but cannot be put in jail.

Herein lies the confusion. The First Amendment does not guarantee against ridicule or disagreement by others for what you said, or wrote. Journalists who have been on Trump like a lamprey on a lake trout, are angered when called "fake news," condemning him for questioning their "journalistic integrity," never mind the endless retractions on page 35D of the New York Times, or at 2 a.m. on CNN. Journalistic integrity is something earned. You do it by being honest, thorough, factual and keeping personal feelings in check. It's called being professional.

Concerning NFL players kneeling, they have the right, as far as the government goes. That right, however, does not necessarily extend to the employer. If you are paid a salary to perform an employer mandated function, as long as it is legal, your employer expects you to do that function. If you are paid by the NFL to stand at the National Anthem, that is what you do. The NFL is held accountable by the fans, people buying tickets and memorabilia, and supporting their sponsors. If the fans want the players to kneel during the anthem, the dollar will holler. Judging by the declining ratings, the dollar is screaming for the NFL to get its act together. Racist is a horrible word to label someone. It is not to be used because a presidential election was lost for laziness or you didn't get signed by a team because the distraction wasn't worth the risk. Wanna stop racism, Colin? Go into schools and preach the importance of education. Show the importance of hard work. Ride along with an officer. Look at it from their point of view. Kneeling on a sideline is useless. It helps no one, including you.

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