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Some thoughts on the NFL and the National Anthem
Published at 5/24/2018
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I'm not locked in here and could be moved on several of my points here but just trying to make my own sense of this.  Some things that I think are true here:

  • Standing up for the anthem is a nice, patriotic, ritual for the fans and players at a game to participate in.  To keep in mind we're all Americans, and of course to show our shared respect for our country, and the flag.

  • If it is made into a compulsory thing than its no longer a genuine show of respect, it's just another compulsory thing we have to do as Americans.  Like pay taxes, or jury duty.

  • Freedom of speech is kind of a big deal, and is one of the great things about America.  Insofar as free speech, and non-violent protest goes, kneeling for the anthem is pretty middle of the road.  It's not marching on the capital.  It's not burning the flag.  Its not even interfering with private business.  It's not hate speech.  So in my world it's not a bad form of nonviolent protest....

  • ....And it has worked, it got people's attention.  Some of those people to start talking about the issues the players want talked about.  It got other people to completely ignore the issue the players were protesting about, and instead indicate how much they think this patriotic ritual is obligatory.  Which, at the least is interesting in its own way

  • On the flip side the NFL is a private business, so they legally can put in measures to discourage this as part of their rights to run their business.  

A dumb analogy to try to take some emotion out of this....and so maybe going off the rails here.  One thing odd about this is we have a private business telling its employees what to do to the level of how they position their body in a specific way during a song.  How crazy would it be for Chick-Fil-A to start all their shifts by playing the chicken dance and making their employees dance to it...with a smile?  (Then again, I guess restaurants do in fact make their staff sing happy birthday...with a smile)  But I've typed this much so lets continue on off the rails and let's say some of the employees didn't like Chic-Fil-A's stance on some political issue and decided to do the hokey pokey instead.  I get that Chick-Fil-A could fire them, but as a paying customer how adamant am I going to be that everybody dances the chicken dance? And if I then found out the hokey pokey protesters were protesting the fact the restaurant was for policies that treated people of certain races, or religions, or sexualities unfairly?  Maybe I'd be bummed about their performance during my song, but I don't think I'd want them fired for it.

I guess this proves the point of what companies can make their employees do but there is something private about where we all stand with our feelings for this country.  The fact some people are so upset proves how poignant and emotional this can be.  And as its not the core part of what an NFL Player's job is, if all feels a bit of a tyrannical overreach to demand compulsory patriotism.

 ....Yeah I don't think this helped at all...I give up.  And now I want a spicy chicken sandwich. 




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