News & Politics

Mnuchin: NFL Players 'Can Do Free Speech on Their Own Time'

Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Treasury Secretary, arrives at Trump Tower, in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

What’s the difference between Antifa’s views on free speech and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s?

Not a whole helluva lot.

The Hill:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday defended President Trump’s attacks on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, saying members of the league “can do free speech on their own time.”

“I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem,” Mnuchin told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on “This Week.”

“This isn’t about Democrats, it’s not about Republicans, it’s not about race, it’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time. That this is about respect for the military and first responders in the country,” he continued.

Mnuchin’s comments come after Trump launched a series of attacks on Friday night on NFL players who have chosen to kneel, rather than stand, during the national anthem to protest what they see as racial injustice in the U.S.

The point that Mnuchin is missing is that the players can exercise their right of free speech all they want. But there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees there won’t be consequences for exercising that right. That’s what these child stars in the NFL really want. They want people to love them for dissing the flag. They can’t stand the fact that people just might disagree with their protest and want them silenced.

In this case, owners should realize the damage being done to their businesses by players exercising their right of free speech and suspend those players whose behavior reflects badly on the team. There are Supreme Court precedents for owners protecting their businesses from employees whose exercise of free speech conflicts with the employer’s need to protect the reputation of his company.

There’s nothing really complicated about free speech. But these players not only want the right to protest the national anthem — they already have it — but want love and acceptance for their stand. This, no one promises. Certainly not the Constitution of the United States.