Anthem Kneeling – So Many Are Missing The Point.

Posted: October 1, 2016 in Insights
Tags: , , , , ,

Hello, all. I have held off commenting about the National Anthem kneeling and fist raising epidemic that has spread across the Land of the Free over the past few months. But, as I watch the 2016 Ryder Cup, I felt compelled to share just a few thoughts.

I’m not going to talk about the media’s role in this as it would become a very one-sided, politically and ideologically charged annihilation of the mainstream media and a scathing indictment of the erosion of nationalistic sentiment and virtual hatred for America. I will leave that discussion for another time.

I will preface my thoughts with this: As a prudent, pragmatic, rational, free thinking, entrepreneurial, free-market/capitalistic minded Conservative Constitutionalist and someone who has studied extensively and taught on the documents – The US Constitution and Declaration of Independence – that serve as the foundation of the greatest country in the history of the world, as well as being a US Marine no longer on active duty who has served to protect the freedoms expressed in and granted by those documents…especially those of speech (yes, to include those I don’t agree with), I definitely will not share the perspective of liberal minded. However, because of the fact that I am rational, pragmatic, and all those things I mentioned before, there’s a great chance that I will not agree with many on the right side of the politically charged ideological spectrum either on many issues. We’ll see if this is one of them.

Bottom Line: National Anthem kneeling and fist raising is not a free “speech” issue. It is a free “market” issue. Yes, the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution grants citizens the freedom of speech. However, like it or not, speech is always limited on stages and platforms provided by someone else. Case in point: the NFL players, a US Soccer player, and others who choose to express their personal perspectives and protests on stages provided by media platforms and stages funded not by them but by both public and private investors (companies) and stake holders (sponsors). Many of those who fund the airtime enjoyed by the NFL and its players do not share the protesting perspectives. Why? Because their customers don’t share them. That’s why. The reality is that without customers buying products, companies would not have the revenue to fund the airtime that has provided the worldwide platform and stage for athletes, many of whom who have contracts exceeding $100M in compensation, to share their “dislike” for the flag of the country that has afforded them the freedom and capitalistic platform to make those kind of salaries.

The argument here is NOT the protest around the fact that particular segments of our population are oppressed or face discrimination. Reality Check: Every segment of the American population – across the spectrum of race, age, religious affiliation, ethnic origin, sexual preference, etc… – have been discriminated against. Like it or not…accept it or not…that is fact. Red, white, black, and yellow males and females have faced discrimination and, if you want to use the word, oppression, based on some sort of characteristic or descriptor resulting from genetics, choice, circumstance, or a combination of the three. That is the subject of another posting and it is one that I could write volumes on. So, if you choose to embrace the inability to see past this point, you will likely struggle with the forthcoming logic and discussion.

The point here is that we can say whatever we want to say, regardless of where we are, who we are, or what we are. However, the flip side to the exercise of one’s Freedom of Speech is the associated and commensurate Receipt of Repercussion. Capitalism and the free market system allow for stages and platforms enjoyed and utilized by the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, MLS, etc… These platforms and stages are provided by the associated media outlets that broadcast them and the sponsors who provide the funding. These platforms and stages are funded by consumers through their patronage of companies, small and large, domestic and international. And while these stages are seen by audiences worldwide, they are no different than classrooms, board rooms, showrooms, or living rooms, or any other kind of rooms across the United States. In all of these, there are rules and policies regarding what can and cannot be said while in them by those who are employees of or who represent these “rooms”. With that, if one chooses to extend him or her self beyond the limits of permissible banter, repercussions will ensue. The repercussions are the unintended consequences of the intended outcome. The concept of Intended Results/Unintended Consequences, one that epitomizes and is a foundational component of US History (not to mention life as a whole) and one I discuss often with my students, will be the subject of future posts. The unintended consequences of the free speech exercise are often the source of the most complaints, disagreements, and commentaries. Why? Perhaps it is because we are fostering generations who have no concept of accountability or responsibility. Too many believe that there should be no consequences for actions taken and are absolutely flabbergasted, floored, and dumbfounded when they suffer 2nd and 3rd degree burns after repeatedly putting and holding both hands on those hot, red round things on top of that large white (sometimes another color) box with a door in the front that pizzas go into frozen and come out cooked.

I am not even going to address the feelings I have when I see high school students, bands, football teams, etc…kneel during the National Anthem. That could be the subject of subsequent posts.

In a capitalistic and market economy, those repercussions are usually monetary. We are seeing these capitalistic repercussions resulting from the choices athletes are making. For example, Denver Bronco Brandon Marshall has seen more than one sponsor choose to sever ties with him because of his “stance”. There is a good chance we will start seeing even larger capitalistic repercussions from larger NFL and NFL affiliated sponsors as more athletes, teams, and even front office NFL officials are supporting this freedom of expression. I will tell that the more the wallet is impacted and money/sponsorships are pulled, the less these protests are going to be supported.

The argument that is being made by many is that these athletes are free to express their personal feelings in relation to societal issues facing our country. There is absolutely no argument to be had. They DO have the right to express their perspectives…but not on the dime of sponsors, which is essentially the dime of the consumers – you and me. Yes, there will be athletes and personalities who share my perspectives, and yours. But there will be those who don’t. If I am honest…if I am a true Constitutionalist…if I am going to be true to my word, conviction, and commitment of honoring everyone’s right to free speech, I have to look at every situation in its totality and run it through the same filter as I do all others. Personally, I would love to everyone standing with their hand over their heart when the National Anthem plays…for a number of reasons. That’s not hat we are talking about here. What we are talking here is the expression of free speech, a right guaranteed to citizens of the Unites States by way off the First Amendment to the Constitution, but complaining when people don’t like your expression because it is either being done on the consumer’s dime via corporate sponsor or it violates the rules of the “room” or having refusing to accept the associated repercussions (the unintended consequences) of the action/expression.

Listen, if a professional athlete, or anyone else for that matter, chooses not to stand for the National Anthem…fine. I respect his/her right to express or not express a love or respect for the flag of our country. But, if you are a professional athlete and choose to make an expression that the media will certain go all gaga over and plaster it all over everything, be willing to accept the repercussions. That could include lost endorsements, public relations backlash (which could lead to lost endorsements), or even additional internal disciplinary action. If you don’t like the backlash, personally fund some television time, play a recording of the National Anthem, and kneel, belly bump, do the macarena for all I care. But I know you won’t. You don’t have to. Why? Because you know the media will cover anything that is anti-American or that will spark a controversy. That is the sad state of where the media in our country has come. However, that is an argument for another day. Today, it’s about the fact that free speech has limits…especially when the stage is being provided by someone else.

Until next time, keep it real.

 

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