What do we stand for in this country? What do we believe? What is America’s contribution to the world? Regardless of how one feels about politics in this country, most Americans would agree that perhaps our most enduring gift to the world is our value of, and protection of, the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. In the U.S., we can speak our mind however unpopular and offensive it may be because freedom of speech is inseparable from a free people and a free society.
By all accounts, the National Basketball Association (NBA) had a bad week. After the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, exercised his First Amendment right and tweeted out a statement of support for pro-democracy Hong Kong protestors against the communist Chinese government, the NBA, who likes to promote itself as a socially conscious league, started their shameful surrender to the communist Chinese. The league regretted Morey’s comments “deeply offended” their friends in China and the commissioner of the NBA even traveled to China to try to smooth over the matter with the Chinese government. Then, just a few days ago, the league’s biggest star, LeBron James, added fuel to the fire by selling out and blaming Morey for costing the league, its teams, and players money for speaking his mind. James even said that Morey was “misinformed” about the whole situation.
It’s James that is misinformed. The communist Chinese brutally suppress their people from speaking freely and worshipping their faith and don’t even pretend to respect due process of law. Look no further than the tear-gassing and mass arrests by a 30,000-strong police force to understand how the Chinese feel about freedom and democracy. It’s abundantly clear the NBA is not concerned with personal liberty or freedoms. The NBA is concerned with one thing – money – and we should be disgusted with a league that says one thing and does another; that values profits over principle and is opportunistic with social problems at home and cowardly when they occur in one of their key markets. We cannot allow organizations such as the NBA to change our values to appease a communist government. It falls to us, the American citizen, to remind the world that freedoms, like the right to free speech, still point the way to a free society and a brighter future. I may not agree with what the NBA has said on this issue, but I support their right to say it. That’s what freedom of speech means.
David Cole is seeking the Republican nomination for state Senator of Missouri’s 29th District.