After Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo spoke in favor of a ballot initiative in Maryland that would legalize gay marriage, a state legislator named Emmett C. Burns Jr. (a Democrat and minister who opposes the idea) wrote a letter to the team’s owner (cc’d to the media) asking that he “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.” The Ravens didn’t do any such thing, nor did the team comment on the letter, but Ayanbadejo tweeted: “Football is just my job it’s not who I am. I am an American before anything. And just like every American I have the right to speak!!!”
Burns’ letter concluded with this sentence: “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.” That prompted a player on another team, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, to write his own response to Burns, reminding him that Kluwe has also spoken out in favor of legalizing gay marriage — he’s a vocal opponent of a referendum that will be on the ballot in Minnesota in November that would amend the state constitution with a gay marriage ban — and pointing out that attempts by a government official to squelch speech are a violation of the Bill Of Rights:
As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word.