About sitting and kneeling

There’s a brouhaha going on about some people kneeling or sitting during the playing of the National Anthem.

I won’t go into the discussion about the “why” they are doing it as that merits its own post, but I do want to briefly touch on the incensed reaction from various quarters.

Primarily, conservatives. And our President. And notable Foxtards.

Ignoring the underlying motivation, are such actions:

  • Illegal?
  • Unpatriotic?
  • A fireable offense?

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

The answer to the first question is “nope!” It would be sad if they were because that would put a limit on one’s freedom. By the way, this is not just my opinion. It’s one of the first rights established by the Bill of Rights, right there in the First Amendment. I mean, it’s the first thing they wrote, so you know it’s important.

Many people are confused about the Bill of Rights. (HERE are some sad facts) The simple way to think about it is that — barring some specific exclusions — if you have an opinion about something, you are free to express it and that expression can take different forms. Kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem is one such expression.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

The answer to the second question is also “nope!” and if one understands the first answer, they wouldn’t be asking the second question. Basically, complaining about something you think is wrong is your right. It doesn’t mean you hate the country. It means you see something wrong and want to call attention to it.

Some people confuse Patriotism with Nationalism. You can read the definitions (there are many), but I’ll summarize it thus: you, as an individual, are a Nationalist if you hold the opinion that your country should not be disrespected for any reason and any criticism of it is a form of disrespect. Along with this, as a Nationalist, you likely have strong ideas about “how things should be.” Usually, you think things should work out to your benefit.

We can debate the finer points of it, but if you think it’s not right for someone to criticize your country, or if you think a song and a piece of cloth cannot be targeted as a form of protest, and if that country is the USoA, then you are a Nationalist and you are most definitely not a Patriot despite how loudly you may claim otherwise.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

It should be obvious by now — if you’ve been reading along — the answer to the third question is also “nope!” but with one important qualifier. If you are a member of the armed forces, either on active duty or the reserves, you may have limits on your freedom of speech and those limits remove some levels of protections you enjoy as a civilian. If not legally, definitely practically. You will not find sympathetic military courts.

I’ll simplify the civilian argument because some people are easily confused. In general, companies can’t fire you just because they don’t like you or your views. They need a documented reason like unsatisfactory job performance, criminal activity, or something else that violates the implied or actual employment contract.

In this case, standing for the National Anthem is not part of the job description. It does not impact job performance and may — in fact — help it because one is just a bit more rested than they would otherwise be. Some may argue the fans may become unhappy and hurt attendance.

That would have to be proven, not merely speculated. Fans don’t seem bothered about cheering for actual murderers, so I find that argument a weak one.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Given all that, it’s sad hearing pundits make this or that claim and act offended because someone chooses to sit or kneel. Sad, but not surprising. They are, after all, nothing but mindless shills. I don’t expect deep constitutional arguments or balanced legal discussions from people who I think as devoid of integrity. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn certain parties pay to put words in their mouths, and by golly, they dutifully turn their brain off and spew them words with conviction and forcefulness and a full measure of hypocrisy.

One argument I repeatedly hear is that because these kneelers make millions they don’t have the right to do what they are doing. To be clear, I think that argument is the conservative’s way of playing the income inequality card. I am 100% sure they would be condemning the action even if it was a hot dogs vendor who stood during the Anthem. 

It is surprising hearing our President suggest we should ignore the laws and protections we live under and punish these individuals. OK, OK, it’s not surprising. The man has not exactly shown himself as a critical thinker, or knowledgeable about civic matters, or much interested in ethics and common decency. I think he’s a bully, so that’s to be expected from him. But it is depressing hearing so many cheer him on.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Coda 1:

Please note: I’m not making a statement about whether I agree with what these fellers are doing, where these fellers are doing it, and why these fellers are doing it. That’s a whole other discussion.

I’m commenting on the legality aspect of the actions but also note that legal courts are quite different from the court of public opinion. Different people will view these actions different ways and that’s fine. Some of the people involved are already paying an unofficial price for their action, and that too is a different discussion.

One is perfectly free to disagree with statements and assertions and arguments and actions . . . it’s quite a different matter saying people should not be saying or doing something they have a perfect right to say or do.

Some even claim the stadium is not exactly a “public square” but I’ll point out that stadiums are often heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars. If one speaks of the fans having a stake in these matters because they support the salaries of the players, one might remember that all taxpayers have skin in the game.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Coda 2:

During a recent discussion, I drew an imperfect parallel to something else that was in the news and that — at the time — had Conservatives and high-ranking Republicans act very differently.

I’m speaking about the Kim Davis affair. Davis is another person who supposedly acted based on her conscience but in her case, Republicans and notable Foxtards and conservative hosts practically mobbed her with verbal, monetary, and personal support.

She was hailed as a hero for standing by her principles.

Here are the crucial differences . . . she was, in fact, not doing her job. She was failing to uphold the law of the land, breaking her oath of office as she did so. She was a public employee, and thus responsible to the whole of the public, and not just a portion of it. She did repeatedly violate court orders. Basically, Davis is a criminal who claimed public funds as payment for a job she did not want to do and was lauded by conservatives for doing so.

This is where fine religious folks will raise their heads from their daily prayers and with great indignation will yell out “that’s not the same thing!”

I know; I just said it wasn’t. Here’s another thing it wasn’t . . . it wasn’t Patriotic. It was Religious.

I say she’s the complete opposite to being Patriotic as are all the individuals who supported her in the past and who still support and defend her actions to this day. I can’t even call them Nationalists because their concern — despite vociferous claims to the contrary — is not an expression of love or respect for this Nation or the ideals put forth in its founding. Just listen to them if you don’t believe me. Listen to VP Pence: God first, Country second.

Now, go read the definition of Nationalism and Patriotism.

Edited to Add: I’m linking THIS article here for new readers and in the comments for readers who might miss it. You can disagree with the players about the extent of the problem or even that the problem exists, but someone who takes the extra step of ascribing one’s own interpretation as to the intent of the players is inherently dishonest.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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24 Responses to About sitting and kneeling

  1. renxkyoko says:

    Excellent post.


  2. Eddy Winko says:

    Well said. You have to wonder how many people stand for the anthem when watching on TV? Which makes me think that TV probably provides the majority of the income for said players. And bit more space in the stadiums would probably be a good thing, especially given the type of people who would be boycotting the game.


    • GP Cox says:

      I stand and I’m proud of that. I had a son die for that flag while serving the Marines. The players are spitting on his memory and all those others who fight under flag with their actions. We all believe in Freedom of Speech [or hope we do], but there is a time and place for everything. Take your political views off the field and keep them in your personal lives is my request of the players.


      • disperser says:

        GP, there’s a lot to unpack in your comment and I’ll do so as respectfully as I can. First, I’ll also reiterate my opening . . . my comments are about the act itself as a personal expression of a grievance and whether that act is protected under the laws of this country. I can either agree or disagree with the grievance they bring but I’ve not done that in the above piece.

        1) Standing, and in the case of veterans, saluting, is a personal choice. So is sitting or kneeling. Individual actions are just that and are highly personal.

        2) I am truly sorry for your loss.

        3) I’ve not read anywhere that the player’s actions are directed at the people who served and/or died in the military. That is an interpretation you choose to put on it. As an example of why it’s wrong to interpret other people’s actions for them is this: I could claim that by standing for the Anthem and the Flag you are in favor of the use of drones to kill children in foreign lands. But, that is not why you stand, is it? This is as gentle a reminder as I can make to bring home the point that you can listen to the reasons for the protest and then either assign merit to the argument or not, but that you do not get to interpret the intent of their actions. For instance, they, the protesters, cannot claim you to be a racist wanting to see people of color persecuted and killed because you didn’t join them in protest. You proudly standing for the anthem is not a statement about you being racist just as them kneeling is not a statement about them spitting on soldier’s graves. Nor, for that matter, are all veterans united in condemnation of the player’s actions. For example:

        4) Saying one believes in freedom of speech and then wanting to curtail it is a contradiction. One either has freedom of speech or one doesn’t. Your statement to keep it off the field is strange because it says that there are free speech “free zones” where it cannot be practiced and a stadium is one of them. Are we now talking about the Anthem or football? Do you mean they can “disrespect” the Anthem in some other venue but not on the football field? Also, how does one protest in their “private lives?” Who would see it? What if it’s your private life you are protesting? The point of all these questions is that the players and others are doing this to bring to light what they see as a problem. For whatever reason, many people would rather not discuss the merit of the actual grievance and instead focus on the act of protest itself.

        Again, I’ll stress none of this is addressing my opinion as to the merit of the protest, the way it was conducted and where it was conducted. That is a whole other discussion.

        For instance, it could be argued that the action has taken the spotlight away from the actual issue, not helped raise awareness to it, and that there are better ways to bring it to light . . . and the counterargument can be made that it is so because this controversy is purposefully pushed by people (for example, Foxtard) who would rather not deal with an issue they don’t think is a problem. Take your pick. You are free to decide on either interpretation.


        • GP Cox says:

          If they reject the flag and anthem of their country – in my opinion, they reject the men that fight for that flag and country – how can that be separated?
          Are they there on the field to play football and earn their millions or run for office?
          You are quite right in saying that they have taken away from the issue, they are in the spotlight now – not the problem.
          The millionaire quarterback just happened to start all this in 2013, during Obama’s administration, who did his best in his own agenda of causing all this racial tension to boil again. The military fights for their country and their flag and their families – not a president, so why make it all political?


        • disperser says:

          You seem absolutely certain of your views as being beyond the question of anyone (especially me) and there’s nothing I can say or write beyond what’s already on these pages. I can’t tell you how to think or how to interpret what you see and hear, but I can say that you are not addressing the points I made. Repeating your opinion is fine but then we’re not having a discussion and you’re not giving me any reason to think differently than I do.

          Perhaps, then, you should discuss these matters with veterans and active military personnel who do not agree with your views and see if their opinions and arguments have any merit. Their input might carry more weight with you than my opinion as a civilian who has never served in the military. There is no shortage of blogs and military sites that discuss these very things. Again, you can read just those who agree with you, but I would suggest also reading those who don’t.

          That said, I will caution that whether you realize it or not, you brought both politics and economic status into an argument that I’m trying to limit to just about the issue of freedom of speech. Would it have been any more or less legitimate if the person who sat or knelt during the Anthem was a hot dog vendor who made minimum wage?

          I happen to agree with you that Obama’s tenure was not good for racial tensions in the country, but what does that have to do with freedom of speech? How does Obama’s presidency come into play into the issue as to whether CK should or should not have sat/knelt or where he should or should not be allowed to protest? For that matter, how is Trump helping things?

          I will reiterate that freedom is not a right if someone demands the right you ask permission for your actions and also the right to punish you if they don’t agree with your actions.


  3. disperser says:

    I’ve listened to blogs, watched videos, and read a lot of articles about the controversy, both defending and condemning the actions of the players.

    Perhaps I am biased, but I’ve not found any reasonable condemnation of the protest that went beyond the argument of “I don’t agree with them so they shouldn’t do it.”

    I also read many statements about the protest showing disrespect toward the flag and the anthem, but none explain why that is so. Meaning, how is their action disrespectful? I present the video below and know that my original intent was to link two videos presenting different points of view.

    The problem is that every video that condemns the actions of the players ends up being an appeal to emotion and nationalism and does nothing to explain why they don’t agree with the actions. Sure, you can be offended. That’s your right. Now what?


  4. Perry says:

    Your astute analysis has brought me to my knees!


  5. disperser says:

    I mentioned above that I couldn’t find what I thought was a reasoned video in opposition of the protests by some players . . . and I was e-mailed the above video.

    I stand by my opinion that this is not a reasoned argument, especially when part of the argument is — and I’m paraphrasing — “you’re just football players; what do you know of the real world?”

    There is no question the man is earnest about his opinion, but so are the student protesters who won’t let conservatives speak on campus. Being earnest and appealing to emotion and being offended does not in itself validate one’s arguments.

    Still, in the interest of presenting both sides of the argument, I post the video here for people to watch. BTW, I have no idea who this guy is; again, this was sent to me.


  6. Yes! Brilliant and thoughtful post! Looking at just the legality of kneeling during the anthem, this is a silent and peaceful protest which falls squarely under the 1st amendment, which Trump would clearly like to get rid of.


  7. I would give you two likes for this one if I could, Emilio. Very well said.


  8. Margy says:

    Your Flag Code says: “During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.” Here in Canada, our Government website says : “As a matter of respect and tradition, it is proper to stand for the playing of ‘O Canada’; this is also the case for the anthem of any other nation.”
    Respect for a national anthem and flag is something most of us take for granted here in Canada. Canadian audiences have been known to sing both the Canadian and American National Anthems when the PA system failed at Canada-USA hockey games – that is how much we value this tradition.
    So, for your Football players to sit, kneel, or hide in the wings – it was done for the shock value and to create controversy. They know it and the fans know it. The players could as easily have knelt just before or after the anthem and sent a message that most people could agree upon. But they didn’t – it seems like they wanted to widen the divide not attempt to find ways to mend it.


    • disperser says:

      The operative word is “should.”

      As for the player’s actions, as I mentioned above, I won’t presume to know the motivation or rationalization — especially when it came to the original action by the lone individual — primarily because I’m not in their shoes (in oh so many ways). As such, I’m also suspicious of people claiming to know what’s in the player’s mind and then proceed to assign their own meaning to the player’s actions.

      It’s also worth informing oneself as to the progression of this and the many agents that spurred and fueled the controversy.

      That said, note I’ve not expressed my opinion as to whether I think they should or should not have done what they did.

      I don’t have to like it, and I can even be mad about them intruding their grievances into my otherwise nice life, but it’s not my or anyone’s place to say what they should or should not do, nor is it my place to “take offense” on behalf of the whole country. That, I know with absolute certainty because I reserve the same right for when I might have a grievance.

      In actuality, it goes way beyond that . . . I could not care less what someone — anyone — does while the anthem is played or how they behave toward the flag. That’s because that’s not even close as an important metric by which I judge a person. I care even less if someone says they are offended by a perceived disrespect of the flag or anthem because to me the country — this country — is so much more than its symbols. Take away the flag, take away the anthem, take away the pomp, and you still have the laws and the ideals and the aspiration to be something better.

      I’m not saying the flag and anthem are insignificant, and I recognize the value of symbols, but I am saying they are not essential and they do not supplant the ideals.

      . . . and that’s the rub, isn’t it? The people who protest are saying the symbols are a lie, that the ideals they purport to represent are not applied equally.

      Their grievance may or may not have merit, and that is a legitimate point of discussion but — I’ll repeat myself — in my opinion, no one has the right to tell them how or where they are to express their grievances. The irony, of course, is that if one is willing to limit their ability to express a grievance, they — and not the players — are disrespecting the ideals those symbols stand for.


      • Margy says:

        By the same token, everyone has a right to express their grievance with the NFL players. That includes ‘conservatives, your President, and the Foxtards’, who you apparently don’t think very highly of. As you said, no one has the right to tell anyone how or where they can express their grievances.


      • disperser says:

        Absolutely, and they certainly are. Note that I do not ask they refrain from expressing their displeasure.

        That is the whole purpose to airing a grievance. What they are not doing is explaining what exactly their grievance is or how they have been wronged or treated unfairly by someone choosing this particular form of protest or to protest at all. That is, after all, the definition of a grievance.

        What they are doing (which I find particularly troublesome and which I think every American should find troublesome) is to say that people who protest should be punished.

        There are two other aspects of their reaction that I criticise. One is their claim that they speak on behalf of the whole country and two is the practice of doing so by mischaracterizing the intent and actions of others.

        To choose their own tactics, I would say they should be grateful to live in a country where anyone can raise their voice in protest and if they do not believe people should have that freedom, they should move to somewhere like Russia.

        As for my not thinking very highly of conservatives, know that I’m not a fan of liberals either, and yes, I have little respect for Trump but if you read this blog, you would know I also have little respect for Obama (although, in fairness, Trump shows a brazen lack of class that is levels above any president in my living memory . . . presidents I also think very little of). Think of me as an equal-opportunity critic; I can and do rail against the far left, the far right, Republicans, Democrats, and have done so on many occasions (and it looks like I’ll be doing more of the same in the future). I tend to examine issues independent of political, social, gender, and racial affiliation and thus find plenty to complain about across the whole of the political spectrum.

        Fox News holds a special place in my heart because their level of hypocrisy and the tendency to distort things is a step up from most so-called news organizations. There is such a thing as “bias” which I can usually take into account when listening to news sources, both local and national, and then there are deliberate distortions, omissions, and outright lies which seem to be an art form at Fox News. But even beyond that, it is clear (at least to me) that their main goal is to sow the seeds of discord if not outright hatred.

        Well beyond reporting the news, the message they drive home is that there’s only one “right way to think” and that propensity for wrapping themselves in the mantle of righteousness and their habitual claiming that anyone who does not hold to their beliefs should “leave the country” is what makes them outright dangerous in my eyes. That is not a mischaracterization; that’s an actual quote oft repeated by a number of hosts of their prime-time shows, a quote their viewers seem to lap up. Because, you know, they are patriots.

        Those are my reasons for raising a voice. I’ll sit and discuss them with anyone and for however long they want. All I ask is that people actually read and address what I write so that I don’t have to keep repeating myself thinking that somehow I’ve not gotten my point across.

        Because that is the point of these things. I welcome dissenting opinions. I mean, I might be wrong in my views or I might have failed to consider something. In that case, make the argument, and by argument, I mean address the specific points where you disagree with me. But, actually address the points, and not just tell me you don’t like my reasoning. Make the counterpoint.

        Tell me why the rights of some people trump the rights of others. Speaking of Trump, tell me what makes him a better president (and/or person) than Obama, or Bush, or Clinton, or the other Bush, or Reagan. Tell me why you think he cares more about the average American than he does about his buddies or even more than the other presidents cared about their buddies. If you are a Fox News viewer, tell me why you think it’s not biased.

        I live for nothing but to learn and improve as a person.


  9. It’s up to each individual and should be spontaneous; one should not be compelled to stand, sit, fall on their arse, whatever, they should do what they feel is right for themselves. Compulsion does not encourage patriotism to the contrary…….


  10. disperser says:

    I’m linking this article in the body of the post and here in the comments for readers who might miss the update but are subscribed to the comments:


    You can disagree with the players about the extent of the problem or even that the problem exists, but someone who takes the extra step of ascribing one’s own interpretation and meaning as to the intent of the players is — in my opinion — inherently dishonest.


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