What about the argument that liberals — and, in this case, I — use another double standard when we applaud Barr’s dismissal while defending the rights of football players who take a knee to protest police brutality during the singing of the national anthem? The players, after all, also don’t have unrestricted First Amendment protections while wearing the jerseys and playing in the stadiums of the teams that pay their salaries.
It’s true the players don’t have the legal right. But they have the moral one, especially when their gesture is dignified, considered and silent (even if I also think it’s mistaken); and when the N.F.L. has aggressively blurred the lines between its commercial interests and the totems of American patriotism. To love freedom is to exercise it. That’s not a function of standing for a song.
Barr, too, has exercised her freedom to tell us what she thinks — without, however, the virtues of dignity and consideration, never mind silence. And Iger and the ABC Entertainment president, Channing Dungey, exercised their freedom in denouncing her tweet and canceling her show.