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Posted by on Oct 1, 2017 in About Blackacre, Blackacre, Charlottesville, Colin Kaepernick, Constitutional Rights, Donald Trump, Excessive Force, Flag Protest, Football, Leadership, Leo Barron Hicks, National Anthem, Patriotism, politics, Professional Sports, Progressive policy, Progressive Think Tank, Public Policy, Race, Silent Protest, Think Tank | 8 comments

The ‘Knee Thing’

We confess that the issue of political speech is complex, especially when it concerns patriotism and race. A Cleveland Tennessee business owner is pulling his commercials from NFL broadcasts for the rest of the season because of the ‘knee thing’. According to Allen Jones, CEO of Check Into Cash and suit maker Hardwicke Clothes “his companies will not condone unpatriotic behavior.” http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/tennessee-business-owner-pulls-nfl-ads-over-unpatriotic-protests/ar-AAsAjxP?li=BBnb7Kz.

However, there is more than a shade of hypocrisy and political correctness here. NFL players are not the only Americans who fail to rise during the playing of the anthem. In homes and bars across the nation, most attend to their nachos, wings, sliders and beer rather than stand, place their hands over their hearts and mouth the Star-Spangled Banner. And few salute the flag every time they see one.

More importantly, while the player’s symbolic speech may be unsettling to some, they are neither disrespectful nor unpatriotic. They are instead engaged in constitutionally protected political speech in a reverent and reasonable manner.

Unlike the Charlottesville protesters, the players are not boisterous or disruptive. They carry no weapons and do not disturb the peace with lit torches or hateful rhetoric. There is no rioting, violence, property damage, death or personal injury.

None have desecrated the flag, mocked the anthem, or advocated for the overthrow the government. And they never refer to anyone as bitches or the sons thereof. They merely kneeled in silent reflection.

Ordinarily, kneeling would be considered an act of respect, loyalty and fidelity, representing contrition, submission and obedience as the faithful kneel in prayer. Now it is perceived as an insult.

Equally significant, the conduct neither targets nor castigates the national anthem. Rather, the players are calling attention to racial and social injustice of law enforcement.

We concede that not every negative encounter between the police and minorities can be laid at the feet of the law enforcement. Nonetheless, the players concerns are legitimate. Too many unarmed men have died at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system is racially biased.

The problem here is not the act of kneeling but the content of the speech. And the real message of those who object to ‘taking a knee’ is that the players are well paid yet ungrateful athletes who are not permitted political opinions. They should instead shut the hell up and confine themselves to amusing us by beating the hell out of each another, similar the gladiators of ancient Rome. We are pleased the players decided otherwise.

Calling for a more perfect union; that we live and honor the values for which the anthem, flag and the nation stands is neither disrespectful nor unpatriotic. It is not an affront to the country and is not disloyal. It is instead what we all should do.

8 Comments

  1. An employee does not have free speech on an employers time.

    • I admit that no constitutional right is absolute. They are indeed subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions.

      However, we do not forfeit our fundamental rights merely because we go to work. The reasonable exercise of a constitutional right without more is not grounds for termination. Additionally, most of the team owners have stood arm in arm with the players, none of whom have been fired.

      ESPN sports announcer Jamele Hill called Trump a white supremacist on her on time via her own Twitter account and drew the same hostile reaction from the same people as the football players, including the White House which said she too should be fired.

      The real problem here is the content or substance of the speech as opposed to when, where or how it was delivered. Had the football players said or done something the complainers agree with during the playing of the Anthem, or had Jemele Hill stroked the President’s ego on her time, via her own Twitter account, there would be no complaints.

    • You are always free to speak your mind. And your employer is always free to decide whether they want you on the team.

      Behavior on and off the job is fair game. Imagine spouting racist propaganda. Can an employer not consider that, even if it isn’t on the clock?

      Customers are free to buy or not buy a product or service. Customers don’t care if company representatives are on or off that clock. Why should employers?

      I think the NFL would be well advised to support players who want to improve police and community relations. Not fault-find or blame-sling, but work to increase positive regard between the police and the communities they serve.

    • We do not disagree. Free speech must be balanced with the rights and interests of employers. And improving police community relations requires more than just symbolic speech.

  2. Very well said,,,

    • Thanks my brother.

  3. I would venture to say, in my opinion, that it’s all pretty irrelevant. The reasons are as follows:
    1. No NFL owners are minorities so what exactly can the players force owners to Do by their protest. They are all replaceable (and do so yearly) and the NFL are master marketers to their target monetary demographic. And that’s NOT minorities
    2. The overall percentage of black business ownership in America dictates the same outlook: what economic impact can you have as the employee instead of being the employer. Minorities don’t, for the most part, offer the overall basic necessities of life and living to create a loyal base or provide a monetary base for the African American communities. That’s cars, clothing, banks, schools, you name it
    3. Trump consistently causes media uproar, and by doing so, no one is watching his real agenda, Executive orders, or blatantly giving his children access to the relationships and tools they will need to do global business in the future.
    4. Respect has to be earned. Yes, someone else brings in the drugs-that doesn’t mean you have to sell them. Same with guns, single parenting, education, smoking, and obesity

    Get your house in order, then you can complain! If you won’t do that, then shut up and take it. But guess what? If you get your house in order there won’t be anything to complain about.

    • Amen to your fourth point and concluding statement. We must hold ourselves accountable before we can demand it of others.

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