Oh, so you really want me to talk about the First Amendment, eh? (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN) – The Trentonian

Posted: January 29, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Well its been a good while since I managed to tick off nearly everyone, so, of course, a second take is called for.

Im referring to my Wednesday column concerning Destiny Adams, a 17-year-old Manchester High School student and a heavily recruited womens basketball star. Shes headed to the University of North Carolina next year to play hoops, but shes also got a bit of an activist streak to her. See, she wanted to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt during warmups before basketball games this year. Coaches punted to athletic director, athletic director punted to administration, administration punted to school board.

And in a 7-0 decision, handed down after Adams explained her reasoning, the board voted no without any discussion or comment, according to a Patch.com article.

My take Wednesday was simple: Adams should wear whatever damn shirt she pleases during warmups. There is no NJSIAA rule on this, according to the article, and its up to the schools themselves as to what constitutes pre-game attire.

My argument was equally simple: This is a First Amendment issue, and not a Black Lives Matter issue.

People did not take kindly to this.

A general breakdown of the three main comments and concerns I received ...

1) She is representing the school and thus shouldnt wear it. Well, sure, if the school decides thats the case after careful deliberation involving everyone. But there was no discussion, just an outright no from the board. Heres the issue: We own the schools. Its a taxpayer operation. Socialist, if you will (you will). As such, we, the people, are in charge of decisions such as these, and the board not even discussing it in an open forum is disgusting.

2) What about an All Lives Matter shirt, Jeff? What about a Blue Lives Matter shirt, Jeff? What about a Right to Bear Arms shirt, Jeff? What about a {fill in the blank} shirt, Jeff? Yeah. Sure. Go ahead. Wear whatever shirt you want. First Amendment issue, all day long. OK, but what about swastika T-shirts? Or Kill {insert whichever president you hate} T-shirts? Or other, clearly hate-filled T-shirts? Well, the United States Supreme Court has weighed in on this, and there are some pretty narrow limits. Non-protected speech includes obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement, and true threats. Can we make the argument that a swastika shirt would fall under true threats? Probably. And a Kill whoever shirt certainly seems like incitement. Call a lawyer, you want to wear something like that. But a pro-Trump shirt, or a pro-police shirt, or a pro-Black Lives Matter shirt? Protected. Period. I would much rather run the risk of some asshat sporting a swastika than making these blanket bans.

3) And finally, my favorite, and there were a lot of these: If youre such a big First Amendment guy, what about Trump and Twitter and assorted other social media things? Yeah, this is a lay-up: Banning Trump from Twitter has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Twitter is a private company, and can do what they please. Its the same as The Trentonian banning Trump from writing op-eds. Were a private enterprise, we dont have to allow anyone who wants to write something the space to do so.

Now, do I think Twitter should have banned Trump? Well, he certainly deserved a time-out for his tweets that clearly broke the terms and conditions of the site, but banning him outright was probably a bit much. It just feeds into the anti-media idiocy.

OK. So. Have I made myself clear? The First Amendment - 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 - is pretty much the bedrock of our democracy. Futz with it, and its a slippery slope.

So yes. Destiny Adams should have been allowed to wear the T-shirt and well would ya look at this: On Tuesday night, at the teams first game, Adams and most of her teammates showed up wearing Black Lives Matter hoodies, according to APP.com. Then they took them off and practiced in their warm up shirts from last year. And during the game, Adams and a bunch of teammates wore wristbands and socks with Black Lives Matter written on them.

Good. For. Her. (And. Them.)

And again, and for the last time, this isnt about Black Lives Matter; this is about the First Amendment. Save your emails.

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Oh, so you really want me to talk about the First Amendment, eh? (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN) - The Trentonian

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