If you were against Colin Kaepernick being punished or fired by the 49ers or the NFL for repeatedly kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016, you also have to be against repercussions for Josh Allen for his racist and controversial tweets.
Allen, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills April 26, wrote Tweets that contained the N-word and other offensive language.
“Niggas Trying To Get At Me,” wrote Allen in 2013. “Why are you so white ? — If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!” wrote Allen in 2013. “Bout to show up these Niggas at pong,” wrote Allen in 2012.
According to ESPN, Allen apologized for the tweets and took responsibility for them.
“I hope you know and others know I’m not the type of person I was at 14 and 15 that I tweeted so recklessly . . . I don’t want that to be the impression of who I am because that is not me. I apologize for what I did.”
If history is any guide, many of the people who wanted Kaepernick to suffer some kind of penalty for expressing himself in an “unacceptable” way will suddenly not want to see Allen punished for simply saying something offensive. Especially something that happened years ago. And, many of the people who wanted nothing to happen to Kaepernick for saying something offensive, will suddenly want Allen to suffer some kind of punishment. It’s become America’s new favorite pastime: only giving moral support to people we like or agree with. Baseball was definitely a better pastime.
While it’s true that these situations are different – one was about spewing racism and the other was about fighting racism in police departments, real or imagined – in some ways they aren’t. We’re not talking about two men who committed crimes here. Their only offense was giving offense. Thankfully, that’s still not a crime.
Nothing they said contributed to an illegal act, caused property damage, or resulted in a loss of life. People were simply offended, and some of them demanded retribution. They may have gotten it with Kaepernick, who still hasn’t been resigned to another team. But that doesn’t mean Allen should share his fate.
But it also doesn’t mean these men are entitled to escape the consequences of their actions. Employers still have the right, even the NFL, to fire players who are hurting their bottom line. If a Kaepernick or an Allen say or do something that causes a loss in revenue or hurts their respective teams, the owner can decide to fire, trade, suspend, or bench them. Part of freedom of speech is that we also have to accept the consequences of what we say. Sometimes, those consequences mean we might be hated and loved at the same time.
It also means we might not be as gainfully employed as we’d like to be.