Monday, August 29, 2016

Oh say!

I guess we have to talk about the football player who sat down rather than stand for the National Anthem.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum (and dogs abhor vacuum cleaners), the Internet hates it when we aren't arguing with each other about some topic, so it sends little angels to land on the shoulders of people like Colin Kaepernick, angels who say, "Stir things up a little!"

On Sunday, he said to the press, "I'll continue to sit. ... I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and when there's significant change — and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it's supposed to — I'll stand."

And Bang Zoom!  We were off to the races.  He has actually not stood up during the anthem at all three of the 49'ers games, but this time, it got noticed and he got blasted.

Kaepernick's ex-teammate, Minnesota Vikings guard Alex Boone, spoke for a lot of players and citizens when he said, "It’s hard for me, because my brother was a Marine, and he lost a lot of friends over there. That flag obviously gives (Kaepernick) the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some (expletive) respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom.

That sums up the feelings of those opposed to CK's stance.  And Boone goes on to say, "We’re out here playing a game, making millions of dollars. People are losing their life, and you don’t have the common courtesy to do that. That just drove me nuts."

Michael Che, the Saturday Night Live comedian, pointed out online that no one seems to stand when they're home watching a ballgame on tv and someone sings the's more of a public demonstration of patriotism than a private moment. And we've all been at parades when a marching band struts by to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner...some people stand up, and some don't.

There are as many opinions about this as there are people in the United States.  And all of those opinions are valid.  People will say that many people made great sacrifices - the supreme sacrifice - in order to preserve our freedom of speech.  Kaepernick has his feelings and is no more or less entitled to express them than any other citizen.  Just because he makes a fortune playing football does not mean he should give up that right to express himself, any more than it would be right to deny paupers the right to say how they feel just because they are economically bereft.

This is what makes America great.  There are places in the world where this freedom does not exist, where speaking one's mind can be the last action of one's life.

The First Amendment means that people can publish all sorts of wonderful writing and all sorts of sludge you wouldn't allow in your home - but I wouldn't give up the right of the sleazeballs to write what they want. Agree with Kaepernick or not, but don't tell him he can't say what he wants.

It's a big enough country to allow room for all of us.

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