Nat Hentoff authored a book called Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee whose title alone rated the $13 for the paperback. More than two decades after its publication, events frequently spark thoughts of the memorable book with a more memorable title. The most recent occasion comes from the mob who wants the NFL to celebrate the symbolism at Sunday’s Rams game but suppress the symbolism at any Sunday’s Redskins game.
“Boy, the St. Louis police really know how to cool things down, don’t they?” Sally Jenkinswrites in the Washington Post. “They’ve taken a controversial protest by a handful of football players, and mixed it with a whiff of bullying authority and a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment, to create a bigger and more heated argument than it had to be. Sound familiar?”
Yes, it does. Six months ago the same writer, who now characterizes cop criticism of the “hands up, don’t shoot” demonstration at the Edward Jones Dome as a threat to the First Amendment, sought to hector Dan Snyder into changing the name of the Washington Redskins.
“The Washington football club ought to ditch its slur of a trademark, voluntarily,” Jenkins wrote in June. “It ought to do so on the grounds of basic decency and good taste, and, you’d hope, with an intelligent sense of history, context and place. If they won’t do it willingly, then the rest of us and their colleagues in the NFL ought to embarrass, jeer and cajole them into it.”
If they won’t do it willingly…