With the nation finally taking gun regulation seriously in the aftermath of a numbingly large number of weekly deadly shootings, advertisers and brands are beginning to pay attention to consumers inspired by the activist teen survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shootings to demand that they break their ties with the National Rifle Association.
With the NRA using its copious donations to politicians as leverage to prevent action on the banning of assault rifles and other instruments of death, one company after another has decided that ending a toxic relationship with the organization is in their best interest as their customers clamor for a moral stance and threaten boycotts if they refuse.
After companies ranging from Delta and United Airlines to Hertz and Enterprise rental cars to MetLife and Chubb insurance cut their ties to the NRA, calls for a boycott of the NRA’s propaganda arm, the 24-hour streaming video service NRATV, have risen dramatically.
The NRA has been defiant in the face of the unprecedented mass shift in sentiment by the companies it had previously partnered with. In a statement, the NRA accused the companies that severed their ties and dropped corporate discounts of “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.” They also brushed off the losses of public support as insignificant when it comes to the NRA’s mission to sell more guns to more people than ever before.
“Let it be absolutely clear,” the NRA’s statement said. “The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.”
That last line probably should have read “made America the nation with the greatest number of guns per capita and with the 11th highest rate of deaths by gun violence in the world” since there are few measures by which America ranks as the greatest anymore these days.
An online petition demanding that Amazon drop the carriage of NRATV — which is also streamed by Apple, Google, and Roku — reached over 100,000 signatures as of Sunday morning, according to The Washington Post.
The NRA is feeling the heat and fighting back, taking a break from the post-Parkland programming on NRATV that The New York Times described as consisting of hosts speaking “chillingly of leftist plots to confiscate weapons, media conspiracies to brainwash Americans into supporting gun control and a ‘deep state’ campaign to undermine President Trump,” to attack the public demands to shut down their propaganda arm as an attack on their 1st amendment rights.
To those saying #DumpNRATV: "The #NRA has been the biggest defender of free speech. I find it interesting that those individuals who simultaneously preach about free speech want to silence the speech of the millions of people who make up NRA membership." –@DLoesch #Truth pic.twitter.com/MNGAxtkcOr
— NRATV (@NRATV) February 24, 2018
The veterans at VoteVets.org, people who know a thing or two about military weapons and the havoc they can create, saw the tweet from the NRA and gave the 2nd Amendment misinterpreters a lesson in the 1st Amendment that, hopefully, they won’t soon forget.
Addressing their tweet to the NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, the VoteVets activists explained the simple fact that no private company is obligated to carry their propaganda under an amendment that protects our citizens from government suppression of their free speech rights.
Hi, vets here, @DLoesch. We swore to defend the Constitution (your right to free speech). We'll always do so.
But, no private company is under any obligation to stream your garbage channel, if their customers, using their 1st Amendment Rights, ask for it to be removed. https://t.co/DTkZqDgXSQ
— VoteVets #VetsVsTheNRA (@votevets) February 25, 2018
Touche´, Vets! Just as the properly interpreted 2nd Amendment allows for government control of weapons under the rubric of a “well-regulated militia,” the 1st Amendment has its constitutionally-imposed limitations as well.
The “fighting words” exception to the right to free speech is well established by the U.S>. Supreme Court, which held in the case of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire that “insulting or ‘fighting words’, those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” are among the “well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of [which] … have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.”
Nowadays, the majority of Americans are beginning to see the NRA’s defense of the right to own assault weapons as fighting words, and we don’t want to see your messages of fear, intimidation, and hate broadcast to the nation.
Thanks VoteVets for your valuable constitutional lesson.