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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My views

Yesterday I posted about the "anthem" controversy......but only in terms of my appreciation for its ability to get people (who might not otherwise do so) talking about various issues regarding "free speech". Today I am going to briefly give my own opinions on the issues this controversy (which doesn't seem to be going away) has raised. 

First there is the actual rationale for the whole kneeling thing; violent racism within law enforcement. Emotionally, one can look at this any way their personal beliefs point them....but a perusal of the statistics tend to support the assertion. The issue of racism in this country is complex and there is a lot of counter-productive rhetoric and behavior all around. But at the end of the day, if innocent people from one group in particular, tend to end up dead with any sort of frequency......there is a legitimate concern and cause for protest.

(Just as a related fact.....a while back I visited a historic prison. There was a lot of information there that surprised me about the history of criminal justice in America, but besides seeing a statistic that revealed that we incarcerate more people per capita than any other country, BY FAR, the other most startling statistic was the disproportionate frequency for which people of color are imprisoned for the exact same crimes as white people. This is not a matter of a total number of more crimes, this is looking at the same number of the same crimes and then looking at the incarceration rate. Odds are, if you do X and are black, you are exponentially more likely to be imprisoned than if you do X and are white. And that is not anecdotal. Race definitely plays a part in how our criminal justice system sees and treats you.)

-Should a paid athlete be allowed to use their own public sporting event to highlight a political issue? Honestly? It's up to the owners and leagues. Sports are essentially businesses that are privately owned. As such, the owner has the legal right to say, "my company, my rules". An awful lot of businesses restrict open displays of a political nature on the job. Sometimes they do this so that their customers are not confronted with political views that might deter their patronage, other times it is policy to maintain workplace harmony, and other times it is just the personal decision of the head of the company. And an owner could also permit political expressions.....particularly if they feel that curbing these expressions would be bad for business.

I worked for a company that restricted any expression of a political view that was not corporately endorsed. I'm sure others do or have as well. It's a legal fact of business. Athletes are no exception. As paid employees, they are subject to the same restrictions if their bosses impose them as anyone else. It is only the fact that they are so publicly 'high profile' that I believe the owners in this case feel it is smarter to just let them have these little moments rather than cause a controversy......the way Trump's remarks did.


-Are simpler political statements OK (like wearing a ribbon or emblem)......but not ones that revolve around flags/anthems? Or are flags and anthems the ideal place to focus attention on things that may be wrong in the country? To me it's all the same. Imbuing inanimate objects or rituals with too much power never leads to anything good. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of early American history.....with a living room that looks like an homage to the era of the Constitution and its authors.....but......I also grew up in a time when Vietnam protesters were burning the flag and Olympic medalists raised "Black Power" fists during the anthem and were stripped (initially) of their medals. So taking a knee seems trivial in comparison. 

And to Dan's point in his comment yesterday, these 'gestures' are somewhat useless. But people seem to love shit like this. Unless you are actually, physically storming the bastille with torches and pitchforks.....or at least contributing money towards the effort.....kneeling, raising a fist, or wearing a colored ribbon isn't going to do much.


-How free should "free speech" be? Very free. The trouble is just about everyone I know agrees with the sentiment......but not the practice. It reminds me of something I used to tell people about the schmaltzy platitude: "be yourself". I always insisted that when people say that, what they really mean is: "be yourself..........as long as it is what I expect you to be."

The same is true for 'free speech'. I have seen countless interviews with people who insist that they believe in free speech and then went on to explain why some group they were protesting should not be allowed to say what they were saying.


-Is 'patriotism' supporting one's country no matter what? or acknowledging the bad and trying to change it? Anyone who knows me at all will guess which sentiment I embrace......which is the same one our Founding Fathers believed in and legislated to protect.

-Should a president make the sort of commentary Trump has made about this issue?
Even the president is entitled to be an asshole .....by law. So he can make remarks like this. But the question is: should he? And to that, my answer is "no". 

I read an article yesterday that quoted a Tweet from Trump dating back to the Obama era where Trump criticized him for a comment he made suggesting that the Washington Redskins change their name. In it Trump said that the president should be focused on more important things. Fast-forward to the present. Not only is he divisive, but he's a blatant hypocrite.





-From the 'Trump perspective' ....is this really about the anthem and kneeling, or is this a tactic of diversion......or of division? Worse, is it merely about disrupting an organization he personally doesn't like? I can't say for sure, but this current vent seems no more or less suspicious than any other from him. Meaning there are plenty of clues to suggest this is a diversionary tactic, or one of pandering to a base, or even just an attack on an organization he personally dislikes. What I do NOT believe it is......is genuine. And that belief is based on the lack of any similar precedent being genuine.

I say this because, despite past remarks having 'grains of truth' within them........they are never delivered in anything but an obvious antagonistic, bombastic fashion. Assume a similar opinion as Trump's on this 'kneeling issue' and imagine a president saying this: "While it troubles me that we continue to struggle with racism in our country, and while I fully support any safe and lawful demonstration designed to address injustice, I am also of the belief that there is a time and a place for everything. Public protests are sanctioned by our laws, but there are times people just want to enjoy some form of recreation and it is unnecessary to imbue these times with personal politics.....especially when those being confronted with these protests have paid their money for something else and the gestures being employed to make these points can appear disrespectful....even if that is not their intent. Businesses have always retained the right to protect their customers from unwanted controversy, and perhaps this would be a good time for the NFL to decide if their games are the proper venue for personal political expressions. In the end it is their choice, but sometimes people just want to relax so that once refreshed they can address the other important issues that face us in other venues." See? It can be done. But instead our Bully-in-Chief opted to deride, curse, and suggest extreme retribution.....and in the process, pander to a base that loves its symbols, and is not terribly sympathetic to the plight of people of color. If Trump said what I wrote, I might believe he was just about separating politics from entertainment......but he didn't. Instead he chose to be intentionally divisive.

-Are we a hopelessly divided country, separated by race, ideology, and wealth? I used to just believe 'divided' but not 'hopelessly divided'. Now, however, I am of the opinion that the extent and bases for this division are too vast and entrenched to ever change.
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So those are my views on all of this. Comments are welcome as always.


18 comments:

  1. the NFL IS GOING DOWN THE TUBES FAST. between criminal behavior on the part of too many players and failure to discipline players who disrespect our flag and anthem , attendance an television viewing will continue to plummet.

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    1. Welcome, "anonymous". But while all opinions are welcome, there ARE 2 simple rules for commenting which I have posted clearly on my main page (in RED no less). One is that the comment pertains to the post (which yours does). The other is that anonymous posters at least attach a name of some sort to their comment (which yours does not.) It is kind of ironic for someone who seems to value following rules to not have followed the rules. But I appreciate input so please....next time just add a name of some kind to the body of your comment. It will let me know who I am talking to while still keeping you "anonymous".

      However, other than that, I do welcome your opinion. I cannot say this controversy will affect MY viewing or attendance because I don't watch or go to games anyway. However, while I agree that a football game may not be the ideal place for controversial protests, there are currently no rules against it and so it would not be fair to discipline anyone. If the NFL makes a policy of this kind, THEN failure to comply could be addressed.

      Whether or not kneeling constitutes 'disrespect' is another issue. You obviously think it does. I tend to think it doesn't. As I stated in my post, I grew up in a time where people were BURNING flags instead of kneeling during an anthem. And if you think in regal or religious terms, kneeling is an even more intense show of respect than standing.

      Still, if football were to disappear overnight, it would not affect me one bit. I only wish Trump would disappear overnight. LOL

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  2. While there are many problems that need to be addressed in this country especially racism protests like this are just plain wrong. There have been cases in this past of performers paid to entertain have used their stage to tout their personal views. People have paid their hard earned money to see these professionals ply their craft singers, comedians or ball players. When this happens the patrons have been robbed. he current issue of football players goes to another level, they are not only is violation of their contracts which state the entire team will stand for the national anthem, they are also insulting all the people who have fought, suffered and died to give the right to protest. There are many other ways for them to show their feelings and protest the injustices. I believe they should all be warned and fined and if they persist fired!

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    1. Hello, Joe. Thanks for weighing in. You raise an interesting point about celebrities from every medium using their fame to promote their own politics. They do. And yet they are only celebrities because people willingly and happily put them on those pedestals. We have created a society where celebrities have influence far beyond their areas of expertise......but they are only as influential as their audience is eager to be swayed.....which appears to be pretty eager. It seems to me that people are so in need of constant entertainment that they've forgotten where the "off" buttons are on their various devices. And they've become so unused to thinking for themselves that they gobble up whatever their favorite celebrities tell them.

      I was unaware that the standing for the anthem was in their contracts. If true, that would make a difference in this case.

      As for this protest insulting the veterans who died for American freedom? I recently read that Marie Tillman has stated that her husband died precisely so that people CAN be free to protest in whatever manner they choose and rebuked Trump for using her husband's name to claim the opposite.

      I also have to ask again why kneeling is now being considered a sign of disrespect when for centuries it was, and still is, considered an act of reverence? A lot of patriots are also religious, so why the apparent contradiction?

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    2. I'm not at all sure how their contract or their employee status factors into this, except in the opposite direction proposed by the commenters who have raised it. Are the employees under contract and are they employees? Yes, with and of the NFL, a consortium of privately owned businesses. Some of the commenters appear not to have noticed, but the people who OWN those businesses have been SUPPORTING the players. So, their status as employees cuts the opposite of the points being made in the comments.

      BTW, I do stand during the anthem and salute the flag, not because the anthem and the flag themselves deserve respect (I don't even know what the hell that means??) but because they stand for a country whose values I respect. Including first and foremost freedom of speech, including the right of peaceful protest. I also personally refuse to be given lectures in patriotism by a draft dodger with five deferments during Vietnam who disrespects POWs who actually sacrificed something. It just amazes me that anyone who professes to love the people who served that flag can simultaneously express respect for that blowhard draft dodging pussy.

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    3. Well put. You are correct in that the owners can do what they want and it does seem that they are siding with the players on this.....at least for now.

      Besides the person you mention also makes a ton of money selling products with the flag emblazoned on them.....which is quite specifically a'no-no' in flag protocol. (But it's probably OK as long as white people buy them.) ;-)

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    4. Yes, and even more ironically, I'm sure his kitsch, like is gaudy ties, are made in China.

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  3. Standing for the anthem has always been the proper sign of respect and reverence for the flag. Showing respect for the country that has made it possible for all of these celebrities to make the kind of money they can only make here seems appropriate.

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    1. I get where you're coming from, and I too stand respectfully when the anthem is played, but my experience and yours may not be the same as someone else's. In this case, I believe that is definitely true.

      The only other question I would pose to you, or anyone who staunchly believes that such a posture and attitude is the only proper one, is: how far does that go? Is showing respect for the flag and anthem limited to just the players? Should a fan (or anyone for that matter) be escorted out of the arena if they choose (like I've seen many do in the days when I did go to games at schools) to go buy food or drinks during the anthem? The fans ostensibly benefit as much from being American citizens as the players. At pro games there are plenty of wealthy fans in those private rooms who make more than the players. Is standing based on 'how much one owes' measured in personal wealth? Or should the respect due apply to everyone?

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  4. EVERYONE owes this country the utmost respect!

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    1. OK, fair enough. I'm not sure I agree completely since there are definitely people who have been victimized by the US (Native Americans for one example) but let's just take the average person. In that regard you feel EVERYONE owes respect.......so should ANYONE not standing for the anthem be told to leave the stadium? (Personally I'd love to see THAT!)

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  5. Go to YouTube and watch Rugby players sing their National Anthem with such pride and passion it brings tears to your eyes.I feel sorry for Athletes who do not embrace the passion they have for their country as it takes so much away from the game itself.
    That's why I do not watch NFL.
    Luckily in Canada , players in the CFL still stand for the anthem although word is that some American players still want to show solidarity with the NFL.

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    1. Hi Glen, thanks for weighing in with a different perspective. Not being terribly familiar with rugby, I have to ask: other than the Olympics, does the U.S. even have a rugby team.....and if so, how many Black players are on it?

      I am not sure what the racial situation is or was in Canada, so I'm not sure if it's a fair comparison. After all, these players are not protesting the anthem....or even the country......they are calling peaceful attention to a serious racial issue in U.S. law enforcement. It has always been very difficult for certain Americans to pay homage to a country that treats or treated them unfairly in favor of other more privileged citizens. Please let me know as this is of interest to me. Thanks!

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  6. There is a US rugby team and both black and white sing their anthem with Passion.My view is if there is a serious racial problem it needs to be addressed within the law.Respect your country and it's anthem.Its seems to me racial prejudice was present during Obama ' s term and he did nothing about it but there was no protest then.

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  7. As a USAF Veteran, I become FURIOUS when I see people walking, talking, or eating during the National Anthem. THAT is completely disrespectful. However, I do not object to kneeling, because I see it as a form of respect.

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    1. Thanks for a Veteran's perspective. My neighbor, 'Wally' is a Vietnam Veteran and he agrees with the protest. It is interesting to me that those who 'walked the walk' seem to be of a different mind than those claiming the protest disrespects Veterans.

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    2. Christians kneel when they pray to God. How much more respectful can you get?

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    3. Yes.....and submissive kneel to Tops!

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