The more I read about this incident, the more I feel he should be suspended – this seems much more like a kid throwing a tantrum than a serious protest attempt. I’m not against protests (hence why I’m not suggesting violating his right to peaceful protest and booting him from football), but if you’re going to do something at a game (which makes sense when you have millions of fans watching,) do something tasteful and show some class and respect for your fans – don’t pick something that could be considered a lazy afterthought or excuse. You make too much to do that!
- Facebook, August 27, 2016
Colin’s followed up with more comments since this post was shared : http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2016/08/28/kaepernick-liberty-freedom-and-justice-are-not-happening-for-all/
The NFL and the 49er’s organization have also responded, along with several players, coaches, and fans – the last of which I wanted to address.
Although I’ve already posted my opinion, I think more elaboration is necessary – especially as I read into these matters. On the one hand – the hand that’s angry, that thinks he’s disrespectful – his protest feels cheap, he disrespected the people who serve this country (not the leaders he claims to be angry with,) and he can use his celebrity to make a much deeper, more positive impact on this issue if he really wanted to. The excuse when I initially read it felt more like a last-minute cover-up to him being lazy, and for that, he should apologize.
On the other hand, it’s a song written by a slave owner (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/wheres-debate-francis-scott-keys-slave-holding-legacy-180959550/?no-ist) and voted into law shortly before the Great Depression (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner). It contains a few lyrics about slaves (http://government.lawyers.com/national-anthem-faqs.html) , and since the debate started, has come with support to Kaeperning’s sit-in from Shaun King (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-stand-star-spangled-banner-article-1.2770075) and Upworthy (http://www.upworthy.com/a-players-quiet-protest-sparked-an-important-national-conversation). While I feel his actions were cheap, they were also effective – it gained a lot more media attention than the game itself, sparking debate, discussion and even a little education – not bad for protesting a song.
I definitely feel, because of the fan disservice, he should pay a penalty – something the NFL and 49ers have currently declared not to do.
However, there are limits to the degree of punishment and the ridiculousness of ideas fans arguing this are putting out there. A lot of people have been calling for his termination, and a few have called for his deportation. Some of those with his jersey have been burning them – something financially ridiculous and too extreme for my tastes.
A few have been professing law, citing U.S. Title Code 36 § 301 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/36/301), which states the rules for the national anthem, as the law. Sadly, while these rules apply, they are not enforced as the law – they can’t be.
The 1990 Supreme Court case United States vs. Eichman (wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Eichman), otherwise known as the “Flag-burning case,” is possibly the closest answer you will find for this – most of the links I found arguing about the requirement of this bore down to the wording of the law above and the link to the flag rules. For those unfamiliar with this ruling, a 5-4 verdict ruled that laws involved in two separate incidents in Washington D.C. and Seattle where demonstrators burned the flag during protests. Those laws, which were designed to protect and respect the American Flag, were deemed unconstitutional as they violated our First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly, and protest.
So, as far as the law of the land, Kaepernick is doing nothing illegal.
The law of the land, however, does not protect him from being penalized by his employers – even though it might give him an edge if he were. Since the NFL is not a government organization, the League and its teams can decide on the players such as him – just like any other private sector job. Even though both have voiced – for argument’s sake – “ignorance” towards this act, that may not last – he’s been rumored to ride the bench this season for more than his playing time.
This brings me back to my purpose, though – as an advocate for free speech and the right to protest, as much as I disagree with what he’s protesting, saying he deserves anything beyond a fine or suspension is wrong, and even those punishments are arguable. While something could happen from the league, to say he don’t have the right, or to deport him, or to terminate him – those who say these things are in the wrong. Until he commits a legitimate crime, He can protest this way all that he wants.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t do anything – obviously voicing online and in blogs (like this) our dissent is another exercise of our First Amendment rights, even though he can ignore these comments and posts – just as he can laugh at the dumbasses burning jerseys, since he already has the money he will get from them.
What will hit much harder: Viewership and pocketbooks. Even though it’s rumored that Kaepernick may ride the bench this year, nothing is yet written in stone – he may still end up starting on opening day, should rumors be false or injuries plague the 49er’s the next game. That money which he gets is based on what the team generates of sales of tickets, TV viewership, and merchandise – so less people tuning in when he plays, going to watch the games and buying his jersey will have as good of an impact as him playing like the 64th-best QB in the league. (For those not getting the math: That would be the average for somewhere near the bottom of second string or top of third string.) Money is a harsher wound that words, in this case.
So save your death threats, your “termination” and jersey-burning – if you REALLY want to hit Kaepernick hard, hit him where it counts. Better yet, do your homework – quit attacking people for protesting, and coming to understand what they protest.