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Strange Bedfellows

Bloomberg reports that Ralph Nader has come to the defense of Terrell Owens, the NFL star suspended by the Philadelphia Eagles:

The two-time presidential candidate and consumer advocate
asked the National Football League and the Eagles to reinstate
Owens, who was dropped for the season after he complained that
the team didn’t celebrate his 100th career touchdown catch and
said the Eagles would be better off with a different


While calling Owens’s comments "boorish and
unwarranted,” Nader said the receiver should be reinstated
because the ban runs counter to the American tradition of free
speech and deprives fans from the chance of watching the five-
time Pro Bowl selection play.

Freedom of speech is a bulwark against tyranny—it’s about the government tolerating criticism.  It has nothing to do with employees mocking their co-workers publicly and making the enterprise less effective.  This destroys the freedom of association.  And it is that freedom of association that raises the cost of "churlishness" and creates civilization.

Nader sees the fan deprivation as a form of fraud:

Nader also said the decision is cheating fans who bought
tickets to Eagles games "on the assumption that they will see
one of the game’s most exciting receivers.

Yes and they also want to see a winning team.  Evidently, the Eagles felt that tolerating this latest example of disruptive rudeness was bad for the team and ultimately bad for the fans.  The beauty of property is that the owner bear the costs and benefits of your decisions.  That gives the owner an incentive to take care of the property and try to enhance its value. 

True, the owner of the Eagles might be making a mistake out of spite or he might be pursuing his own self-interest at the expense of the fans, a result that might persist longer in the NFL than in an industry where entry is much easier.  But the self-interest of the owner of the Eagles is fundamentally tied to the self-interest of the fans—they both prefer a winning team to a losing one.  I have no idea what incentive Ralph Nader has to provide wise counsel on dealing with Owens’s behavior.  Which raises a question unanswered in the article: why did Nader enter this fray in the first place?