State Sen. Alan Clark
has joined Rep. Kim Hammer
and other Republican legislators in vowing on Twitter to punish the University of Arkansas
for its failure to prevent six women Razorback basketball players
from making a symbolic statement by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem
before an exhibition game last week.
Yes, Republican legislators want to punish a public university for students' speech.
Again, Republicans who decry political correctness want to prescribe correct behavior for others.
Again, Republicans who don't understand that government and its institutions are proscribed from retaliating against speech to which they object.
Again, the women's coach, Jimmy Dykes,
has served as a brave and clear voice of reason. After the game, he said he had his players' backs. In a talk Monday, he elaborated
. he said he personally stands for the anthem and would encourage others to do so, too. But he's talked repeatedly with his players. He understands their concerns. He's counseled them about consequences, not always good ones. But he said:
To be perfectly clear, my support is of our 14 tremendously strong young women, six who declared to kneel and eight who stood and their ability to express themselves and support each other. I'm so proud of how they worked through a very difficult topic for them.
We all can be proud of Jimmy Dykes. Alan Clark and Kim Hammer? Not so much. Obtuseness is a part of the problem. After I unloaded on Clark on Twitter, he responded to criticism:
I don't know about the other liberals who might have criticized Clark. But in my case, I don't protest his protest. He may protest to his tiny heart's content. What he might not do is use the might of government to suppress speech he doesn't like by punishing the players, their coaches or the university where they study. It couldn't be simpler.