Wow. What a week. It seems that every week for the past few months has left that feeling echoing throughout the populous.
- North Korean bombs.
- Puerto Rico’s plight.
- Increased tensions with Russia.
- Burmese human rights violations.
- Mexico City damages.
- Church shooting in Nashville.
- And the NFL facing off with President Donald trump.
I want to devote this to free speech. To using our platforms to speak up against what we consider to be societal wrongs. If the president of the United States can say just about anything he wants on his twitter, rant and rave, insult, etc, where does he find the moral high ground to verbally attack peaceful protestors with legitimate complaints?
You may disagree with NFL players sitting or kneeling during the National Anthem. But to say they are “disrespecting” America by not standing is a short-sighted indictment of them. Rather, you’re saying that they’re disagreeing with the way the you think that they should respect America.
But what the hell is America, if it is not the constant growth and deliberation of ideas and criticisms that allow us as a nation to move forward? We grew out of our distaste with how the elite were treating us. Why is it suddenly so distasteful to criticize how the elite are treating us?
“U.S. historians and political scientists often classify dissident movements along a spectrum from left to right, with the left side encompassing Communists, socialists, and others committed to greater economic and political equality, often achieved through government intervention, and the right side including those who embrace capitalist economics with little or no state regulation.”
Dissidence is an element of first amendment-protected free speech, and is often a symptom of more pervasive odious behavior occurring in the nation. Black men and women in America are suffering injustices in greater percentages than their white brothers and sisters. The reasons for this are varied and range across the spectrum, but black unarmed men being shot by police had been a rallying point for the energy to protest.
Is there a best way to protest? I don’t know. But the shear fact that we’re talking about it at the national level is a clear indicator that something was done right. Again, you may disagree with the way the protest was conducted, or with the facts of what is being protested, or both. But we are talking about it.
The thing is, when President Trump tweets, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”, I’ll agree with the first part. If you feel offended by players who taking a knee, you don’t have to watch the game. You don’t have to buy tickets, or merchandise. That’s your choice. And then the onus is on owners and managers, and marketers and sponsors to decide how they want to respond. But telling a private citizen to fire someone for exercising their Constitutional right to expression is a slap in the face of all who have fought for those rights.
It’s also possible that those stakeholders, those managers and owners, are fed up, and they’ll double down, much like what happened on last Sunday. Some owners taking to the field with their players. They all think something isn’t right in this country. And they’re not alone. The ones who disagree, they think something is wrong as well.
Why is this such a hot topic? Is it that football is the American pastime? Is it that an elected official is going against public citizens? Is it a race issue, an economic issue, and a first amendment issue?
Yes. Yes to all of it. And there are only few answers to the many questions. But I believe that a man who attacks his detractors rather than listening to them fails to learn anything from them, even when they have valid points to make.
Perhaps this video gets the message across: