First Amendment

Don’t Understand the 1st Amendment? Don’t Run for Office

“They have a right to protest” is the new Leftist narrative. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee “took a knee for the First Amendment.” Who’s denying that people have a right to protest? Who’s against Free Speech? (Actually, liberals are, but that’s a different story for another time.) Everyone has a right to protest, but not on someone else’s dime or time. If I hire someone and that person protests about some pet social or political concern at a seminar our company is sponsoring, I have every right to fire that person. He or she can protest on their own time and dime but not on mine.

If a person doesn’t understand this basic constitutional principle, he or she is not qualified to hold public office.

If the NFL has a policy about protesting on the field (and I believe it does), and a player violates that policy, it’s not a First Amendment issue.

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The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to protect the states and the people (Ninth and Tenth Amendments) from the government. It was designed to stop the government from criminalizing religion, speech, press, and assembly:

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.

That first word is important: “Congress…” The NFL is not Congress. If the NFL and NBA want to allow athletes to protest during a game, they have a right to offer them that right, and the fans who don’t want to watch a protest have a right to boo them, turn their backs on them, not to attend the games, or refuse to watch them on television. Advertisers also have a right not to advertise.

What if you don’t like unpopular speech, like the planned marches of Neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, in 1977? As much as you and I hate what these intimidating thugs were trying to do, they had a right to do it. And those who opposed their right had a right to protest their right. And they did after seeking a legal remedy was rebuffed. “In the summer of 1978, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision, some Holocaust survivors set up a museum on the Main Street of Skokie to commemorate those who had died in the concentration camps.”

Let me offer an example of how to process all this debate. Last night, my wife and I went to see a protection of The King and I at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. I would have been ticked off if the actors had decided to make some political statement — Left or Right — before, during, or after the show. I paid to see a particular show. I didn’t pay to hear someone spout off about politics.

Before the production started, a representative from Fifth/Third Bank came out. Fifth/Third Bank sponsors the Encore series at the Fox. He welcomed us and told us about some of the coming productions. One was Hamilton. Hamilton is political, and if people want to spend their time and money watching it, they are free to do so. There would not be any First Amendment protection for a conservative actor who decided to protest the political plotline while he was performing. He most likely would be fired, and rightly so…


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Gary DeMar

Gary DeMar was raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and Reformed Theological Seminary (1979). He has served as researcher and writer at the Christian Worldview ministry American Vision since 1980 and President since 1984. Today he serves as Senior Fellow at American Vision where he lectures, researches, and writes on various worldview issues. Gary is the author of 30 books on a variety of topics – from "America’s Christian History" and "God and Government" to "Thinking Straight in a Crooked World" to "Last Days Madness." Gary has been interviewed by Time magazine, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the BBC, and Sean Hannity. He has done numerous radio and television interviews, including the “Bible Answer Man,” hosted by Hank Hanegraaff and “Today’s Issues” with Tim Wildmon and Marvin Sanders. Newspaper interviews with Gary have appeared in the Washington Times, Toledo (Ohio) Blade, the Sacramento Bee, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marietta Daily Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Chicago Tribune.

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