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Posted August 27, 2020

Jim Amrhein

By Jim Amrhein

For Sale Cheap: Two Sets of Goodyear Tires

As you may have read in this forum, I purged my life of all things Nike last summer.

I did that because the company cancelled the release of their Air Max-1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneakers in the run-up to last years Independence Day. Ostensibly, they nixed this distinctive shoe because it featured the original 1777 Betsy Ross 13-star American flag

After 242 years of being universally patriotic, this flag suddenly became a symbol of racism on the say-so of one of Nikes own highly-paid brand ambassadors. I still wont utter this perpetually offended gadflys name, but hes easily identified by the grass stains on his right knee.

In hindsight, I think the whole thing mightve been a manufactured controversy designed to boost Nikes PC cred, sneaker sales, and stock price not to mention the profile of their highly-paid wokesman. Nike shares shot up over 19% between July 1 and the end of last year. Coincidence? I dont think so.

But I digress. Either way, snafu or strategy, the incident told me all I need to know about what Nike thinks of America-loving consumers like me. Thats why theyll never get another dollar out of my wallet if I can help it. The point is

Now I want to purge Goodyear from my life because Im not sure they believe in the basic American right to free speech

Youd have to be living under a rock to be unaware that Goodyear, the venerable U.S. tire and rubber company, has been in the spotlight lately.

The hubbub began after an employee leaked a photo reportedly taken during an August 18 presentation at the companys plant in Topeka, Kansas. This slideshow appeared to include guidelines on politically charged attire as part of a so-called zero tolerance policy in that workplace.

In case you somehow missed this story, things like BLM and LGBT messages on clothing and face coverings were deemed acceptable forms of workplace expression in this presentation while Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and MAGA apparel were declared unacceptable. Political and campaign slogans or materials were also disallowed, across the board.

Just to be crystal clear: My gripe with Goodyear doesn't come from any of the specific messaging deemed permissible or prohibited in that presentation at their Topeka plant. My hackles are up because I believe this sort of top-down censorship is happening more and more across the nation lately, in workplaces large and small. I think its just plain un-American, and I intend to stop patronizing any company that engages in it to an egregious degree. To me, Goodyear is one of these now.

In a supposedly free country like ours, this sort of expressional suppression should be intolerable to everyone regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. Its the kind of thing youd expect to see in Russia, China, or Cuba, not America.

But wheres the universal outrage about it?

Imagine the uproar if the script were flipped here and if things like BLM and LGBT slogans were barred, but MAGA and All Lives Matter stuff were deemed OK. Everyone in the major media would be screaming for Goodyears head, so to speak. And theyd be 100% right to do it

But Big Medias lack of umbrage at the general disregard for basic American rights on display in this particular instance speaks volumes about their hidden agenda, and embedded double-standard. Its now totally obvious that only some free speech matters to them the kind that promotes left-wing political objectives.

In America these days, PC corporate managers see their employees free expression as a liability

Bosses and boardrooms across the fruited plain have been steamrolling First Amendment rights for years now.

The irony is that to avoid the mere accusation or appearance of discrimination or the dreaded PC catch-all charge of toxic work environment these employers are engaging in very real discrimination against the constitutionally guaranteed free expression rights of their employees.

Not being a lawyer, I cant say whether this sort of prejudice is legal or not. The rules are different for corporations than they are for individuals, or for government. Plus I suspect that the law is far from settled on this kind of thing. Precedents get set by lawsuits, in large part

And how many regular, well-adjusted folks who arent part of some high-profile victim group actually sue their employers over something theyre not allowed to say at work? Not many, Id bet. I think most employees at those kinds of companies would be more likely to just swallow their liberty for eight hours a day, collect their paychecks, chalk it up to The Man, and go on with their otherwise-free lives.

I am a consumer, however. And as such, I have the ability to adjudicate on these matters with my wallet. Im going to do that, starting right now, by getting rid of all my Goodyear tires, and never buying any more of them again if I can possibly help it. Ive already removed the set that was on my Ram pickup. And I began researching replacements for the OEM Goodyear Wranglers on my Jeep this morning

Because if people like you and I dont stop all this PC BS with our dollars and our freedom to call it out for the censorship and discrimination it is where will it end?

I mean, what about the coffee mugs and lunchboxes employees bring to work? Or the books they carry for break-time reading? Or the bumper stickers on their cars and trucks in the parking lot? Or their social media postings? Or the jokes and memes and texts and search history on their phones? Or their tattoos?

Will all that expression, and more, soon have to be approved by corporate to hold a job at places like the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company or any other company thats succumbing to the national epidemic of political correctness?

Because thats the way were headed, folks.

And even though I think its wrong of Trump to use his bully pulpit to single out individual companies for praise or condemnation based solely on his perception of their support for his presidency

I do think its right for our elected leaders to hold companies accountable for discrimination of any kind, or for their unreasonable suppression of core American rights. I wish the media did this more often, too, and without bias. Both of these forces are supposed to be among the checks and balances that safeguard our liberty, especially the all-important freedom to say what we want.

For the record, Im not going to stop buying Goodyear tires because Donald Trump told me to

Im going to stop buying them because I believe in freedom of speech and expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. And after seeing the photo from that zero tolerance slideshow, hearing audio recordings reported to be from that same event, and reading the companys weak, dodgy corporate statements about it

Theres now enough doubt in my mind about Goodyears commitment to our basic freedoms to change my behavior as a consumer. Its as simple as that.

Short of inciting riot or panic, Americans are supposed to have the right to say or otherwise express pretty much anything we want, pretty much anywhere we want. But more and more these days, this basic right seems to be forgotten, ignored, or denied. This is certainly happening in public schools, at college campuses, on social media and increasingly, it seems, at workplaces across this nation.

Bottom line: Americans shouldnt have to keep quiet just because what they say could offend others, or challenge their beliefs. Thats a fundamental pillar of life under the Stars and Stripes, and its how the best ideas and principles rise to the top in this country

And I want to buy my tires from manufacturers who still believe in that or at least arent actively trying to undermine it.

Because again, our voices and our wallets are the only weapons rank-and-file Americans like you and me have to show companies that get too big in the britches what well no longer tolerate from them.

Im using both of these things to send a message to Goodyear. Want to join me?

Un-tire-ingly Yours (sorry, couldnt resist),

Jim Amrhein

Jim Amrhein

Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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