This may turn some people away from this blog. This may turn some people into fans of this blog. Either way, that is your right and choice. That is what I am here to talk about…freedom of choice and freedom of expression.
As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
On Sunday, the NFL took a league wide protest where players, coaches and owners took a stand after some choice words from Donald Trump.
Trump said that any NFL player kneeling during the National Anthem should be fired. Sure, he can say that. Where the NFL drew the line was him calling all of those players sons of bitches. They probably didn’t take too kindly to him saying that people should stop watching the games as well. Also, not very presidential if you ask me.
How did they respond? More players kneeling. More players, along with coaches and owners, linking arms in unison during the National Anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers entire roster stayed in the locker room all together. Except Alejandro Villanueva, who stood on the field with his hand over his heart for the national anthem.
It has caused quite an uproar in the social media world because that’s what we do. We hate something so we bitch about it on social media. Yay us.
It all started with Colin Kaepernick last year kneeling during the national anthem to protest injustice and police brutality in the United States. It trickled into other players following his lead. That led to the ongoing discussion that we are still having one year later.
Trump’s comments were the icing on the cake that gave the rest of the league enough motivation to protest injustice and follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Kaepernick began these protests to shed light on police brutality among minorities and systemic injustices brought to those who are races other than white or people who don’t fall into the guidelines of white america.
To anyone reading this, I want you to call, text or ask any of your black friends if they ever had any experiences with police officers where they felt they were treated poorly. I dare you. Most of them will probably tell you they have. Most of mine have.
That is ultimately what this is all about…police being held to a higher standard to uphold the law. We see too many mistakes in law enforcement. Then, we see the departments trying to cover them up instead taking responsibility for those actions. How many times was an officer’s body came not on or working properly anytime there is an incident in question?
However, that is not what is primarily being discussed. People are more concerned with the flag and making it more about that what is happening rather than why. People may tell you the players should find another way to protest.
Unfortunately, that is what the right-wing media is especially good at. I am not trying to pigeonhole them because the left does their share of angling and damage as well. But the right is famous for hijacking narratives.
Kneeling has become about the flag, more than it is about social injustice.
Just like illegal immigrants is more about the workers rather than the employers who are committing felonies. Just like the average person’s financial plight is because of that single mom with eight kids staying in section-8 housing living on less money per month than I make in a week, instead of blaming it on tax evasion from the rich.
Let’s stay on the subject of kneeling during the anthem…
I want you to answer these questions, what is the alternative to getting the message across? Would the conversation still be relevant more than a year later if Kaepernick used that alternative? I’ll wait.
In order for the conversation to keep moving, there has to be some sort of controversy because that sells.
Holding a press conference won’t work. We hear athletes speak out about issues all the time and it becomes old news hours later. We live in a world that features a 24-hour news cycle. Things get recycled faster than they come to fruition.
After initial backlash from sitting during the anthem, Colin Kaepernick took his discussion to former military members and that is when he decided kneeling was the better option. It was a way to acknowledge the anthem, but at the same time get his message across that he is not ok with what is going within our borders.
Kaepernick and every other player who elected to kneel during the anthem has every single right to do that. That is the main reason I am writing this.
We have somehow forgotten exactly what the first amendment is and quite frankly that pisses me off. When that was passed in 1789, it gave Americans the right to speak out. There is nothing illegal about what the NFL is doing. Why are we acting like there is?
You may think it is disrespectful, but they have every right to do it. Just like you have every right to think it is disrespectful.
That doesn’t make them bad people. They are not hurting anyone. That doesn’t make them any less American. In fact, it actually makes them as American as it gets. They are standing up for something they believe in despite what people say.
You’re right, they are the worst though. All that time and money they put toward charities and children, yeah, they’re awful. I always find it particularly funny the average joes start calling out professional athletes for them to do more if they want change. When is the last time you put up money or time for a cause?
“Oh I don’t have the money they do.” Maybe not, but I know I can certainly spare $100 or so each month, but I don’t. Because I would rather spend on the box set of One Tree Hill and The League.
Hell, you can even volunteer at a shelter. But you don’t.
For the most part, these guys do. Hell, some of them have even started their own charities.
When you say things like “if they don’t like it, leave,” then I have every right to think you are a communist. Because that is exactly what you’re acting like. You want freedom of speech, but only if it fits your narrative. You want people to stand up for what they believe in, but only if it something you believe in.
Let me define what freedom of speech entails. You can literally say what you want as long as it doesn’t fall under the blanket of violence or directly threatens an individual.
Because we live in the era of political correctness and people being offended for the sake of being offended (that goes on both sides), we have completely lost sight of what is protected.
What bothers me more than infringing on freedom of speech is the hypocrisy of all sides.
On one hand you have the left screaming about gender and things like that saying their voice deserves to be heard, but the second someone opposes them (even if factual), they scream hate and want silence.
On the other hand, you have the right who thinks it’s ok to discriminate cultural differences and accept it as the norm. And yet, they too get their panties in a wad when someone accuses them of being closed-mnded.
Unfortunately, even though some speech can be hateful, it is protected. You either want free speech or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. The second you limit speech, you limit the marketplace of ideas to filter out right from wrong. That, I have a massive issue with.
As I said earlier, if you want to eliminate the marketplace of ideas, you may as well call yourself a communist.
The marketplace of ideas was hard at work this week in the NFL. The New York Times had a great cover photo of all the teams kneeling as well as some pictures of those who elected to stand with their hands over their hearts. That picture is one of the most beautiful sights I have seen.
What I see when I look at the picture is the idea of freedom of speech. Men of all different walks of life choosing to stand, sit, kneel or hold a fist up because we ultimately have that choice. That is awesome.
Furthermore, freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequence.
An even better layer to this whole conversation is the fact the some owners are jumping in and supporting their players. On the other side, some owners like Jerry Jones have said his players absolutely will not protest otherwise there will be consequences. Good for you, Jerry.
Guess what? He has every right to do that since he owns that team and that stadium.
That means those guys have a decision to make. Do you stand up for what you believe is right? Or do you do what your told because your livelihood depends on it? That is on the player.
Ultimately, this is the first amendment hard at work and I am all for that no matter which side of the fence you lean on.
But condemning individuals for exercising their right and calling for censorship, well, that doesn’t make you much of an American does it?
You can protest all you want by not watching games. That is perfectly fine. That is your choice. That is your right. Electing to kneel during the anthem is their right.
I, for one, don’t care either way. I love football and there are greater tragedies in the world than someone not standing up because they are told to.
To be honest, when I am at a sporting event, I am not listening to the anthem as much as I am people watching or perhaps wondering why the singer is holding a note for that long. The song is eight lines long and I don’t need a four minute affair, Christina. Move it along so we can kick this thing off, capiche?
As the anthem says, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Brave are these men standing up for what they believe in despite the backlash they receive and free as they are exercising their right to do so. There is nothing more American than that.
The last question I want to ask those opposed, if I come to your house on Sunday, will you be standing for the Star Spangled Banner you vehemently defend? I’m banking on no there.