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Speech Police Create Their Own Storm
By Stephen J. Rossie

Square2017 imageRichmond – Just as Hurricane Florence took shape over the Atlantic Ocean and became a threat to Virginians, a verbal storm broke out in Capitol Square. Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran shared a Facebook post by the Virginia State Police Association, an organization of more than 2,200 law enforcement professionals.

Typically, sharing news and opinions from partner organizations isn’t a big deal. But Moran crossed a very serious line. What he shared from the VSPA, in effect, called for a boycott of Nike because of its employment of controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — the player who started the kneeling during the national anthem protest and subsequently carried it further by wearing socks depicting police as pigs, among other actions.

The VSPA post contained a letter from the National Troopers Association, another law enforcement professional organization, to Nike CEO Mark Parker, harshly denouncing the corporation’s decision to use Kaepernick as the face of its advertising campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It” slogan. The letter also called for a boycott of Nike, which had already begun in an ad hoc, spontaneous way across the country. Several videos of people burning Nike products went viral and made national news. The NTA letter called Nike’s decision a "slap in the face to hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers” and that it is driving the "fallacy that police . . . are . . . inhumane tyrants.”

It wasn’t as if sharing a post from organizations that even Nike knew would object to its decision to hire Kaepernick was news. Taking up for the people under your charge, whose lives are at risk every day in service to their fellow Virginians, shouldn’t be a shocker, much less upsetting.

Moran, a gentlemanly family man whose low-key demeanor mirrors more of his current boss, Governor Ralph Northam, than his former boss, the bombastic Terry McAuliffe, should have been busy with hurricane preparations. Instead he has to divert his attention to quelling the political winds stirred up by a Henrico County progressive activist, who noticed the post and wondered out loud if Moran had been "hacked.”

The man in charge of supervising the State Police now had his speech policed, an unfortunate turn in a culture war in which even the perception of offending offenders is intolerable. Let’s call them the Intolerance Correctness Police. Truly, a society flipped on its head.

Ironically, Moran was a long-term House Democrat who rose to caucus chairman, and a 2009 candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination. His liberal credentials are well established. Yet, taking up for his department’s rank and file apparently is no longer orthodox. Ultimately, he issued an apology, claiming the share of the VSPA post was "a mistake,” "not intended as an endorsement,” and "did not reflect his views.” Right.

With Moran sufficiently chastised, Northam didn’t want to be late to the condemnation party, either, saying through a spokesperson that the views in the post were not his nor those of his administration. A safe play with the Intolerance Correctness Police looking over his shoulder.


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