Saturday, September 10, 2016

America, Land Of The Free? Only For Those Who Exercise "Correct" Rights

"Ultimately, Kaepernick critics are pitching a well-worn trope: that there are correct and incorrect ways in which our rights can be exercised. The right to bear arms? Correct. The right for a gay couple to marry? Incorrect. The right to practice Christianity freely? Correct. The right to practice Islam freely? Incorrect. The right to show your patriotism by standing during the national anthem? Correct. The right to show your disappointment at systemic racism in the US by not standing during the national anthem? Incorrect."  - Christian Christensen on

As we approach a full slate of NFL games tomorrow (15th anniversary of 9/11) watch out for the "dog whistle" types to be on the lookout for any politically incorrect moves - especially by NFL players to kneel down for the national anthem. While these over-sensitive brats bellyache about "political correctness" or "PC" instincts among liberals, they have no qualms about invoking their own perverse forms of PC in support of an unthinking nationalism, outright jingoism, or pure racism. "Hey, I got my rights, fucker! And if I wanna piss on you and call you an 'ape' you better deal with it - but don't you dare kneel for the national anthem!"

But this is how American liberty has come to be embedded in free floating hypocrisy, as some rights (as Christian Christensen notes in the quote above) are accepted by the majority but other rights are scorned, even while the dog whistlers often admit the right exists. But they always add on the warning: "Just be careful of unintended consequences".

This emerged again in today's Denver Post letters section, after Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt down for the anthem before the game with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.   One letter writer named Mark Dickehage wrote about how his father and four uncles "fought overseas in World War II and Korea"  adding "because of them Marshall is free to do this". But then spits on that right by proclaiming it in "poor taste" ( about all the Tea Baggers that brought their guns to Obama's health care forums? Huh?) and accusing him of a "lack of respect for the flag."  Thereby putting the importance of a piece of fabric above Marshall's freedom to exercise his 1st amendment rights

Another letter writer, Richard Kuberski, belched:  "Brandon Marshall is WRONG! Standing for the flag does matter!" as if the flag is a god unto itself. Again, placing an inanimate object  above the rights it is supposed to represent. How fucked up is that? Well, pretty much so!  He then adds this confounding two cents:

"While protest is Marshall's right he should be careful how he does it and be wary of unintended consequences".

Ahhh, there we see it again. The veiled threats that okay, this may nominally be the "land of liberty" but boy, you better had watch out which rights you exercise and look behind your damned back if it's the wrong ones!  Carrying this to outrageous extremes was a  self-proclaimed "World War II and Korean War vet" named Chris Cator who confided to Denver Post sports writer Mark Kiszla that:  "I will buy a one-way ticket for Marshall to any foreign destination he wants".  Wow! That's really magnificent of you,bubba. But why the hell should Marshall have to leave his country on your impecunious dime when he has the right to express himself under the first amendment?  A right Cator fought for but evidently forgot. (Cator, incredibly, also admits to Kiszla being on a "reduced income.")

The same obnoxious, self-righteous jingoism came up 15 years ago when then University of Colorado prof Ward Churchill wrote an essay "On Roosting Chickens" about the 9/11 attacks in an obscure journal.  Some collegian with too much time on his hands found the essay then circulated it widely on the web, and it ultimately ended up in the hands of U of C honchos who declared Churchill unpatriotic and also, unfit to teach.

A special university "panel" was convened which rummaged through all of Churchill's  existing drafts, academic papers and communications - which they did to no other prof. They then pronounced their "verdict":  finding hum guilty of "plagiarism".   In the wake, every little anti-free speech dunce in Colorado went batshit crazy calling for Churchill's head,  with the university - and The Denver Post - complying in full.

The Post hung Ward Churchill out to dry in a number of editorials and op-ed columns, The guy was convicted and hung, drawn and quartered before he could ask 'why'.  The whole episode showed the "free speech" meme for the hypocritical bollocks it was, because while someone could depict Muslims as "ragheads" in cartoons, he couldn't dare call into the question the U.S. role in inciting blowback - as Churchill did. (A good reason also for many dog whistle types to get hold of Chalmers Johnson's excellent book, 'Blowback')

Equally pernicious and vile reaction has followed Brandon Marshall's kneel down before Thursday night's Broncos' game. In today's Denver Post Sports section, Marshall referred to the barrage of hate email and tweets he's received from the dog whistle brigade. He said:

"I had so may comments on Twitter and Instagram I couldn't go through them all.  I saw a lot of negative, racist comments. People calling me the N-word and using a lot of other derogatory terms. There's a lot of hate out there."

Again, the message is: "Yeah, bud, you have rights but be careful which ones you choose to exercise and how. In this country we only approve of carrying our loaded weapons to Obama health care speeches!"

So it will be interesting tomorrow to see how the rabid, dog whistle faction reacts when a number of NFL players kneel down for the anthem on the actual 15th anniversary of 9/11. In fact, I hear that the entire Seattle Seahawks team has pledged to kneel down in support of Kaepernick before their home game with Miami later in the afternoon.

We will see what happens in the wake, and how many of our fellow citizens truly believe in free speech rights.....without issuing warnings about "unintended consequences".

See also:


Post script:

It now appears the Seahawks will locks hands and stand for the anthem.


Publius said...

The way it works

The First Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from abridging free speech. That is why Kaepernick can't be arrested.

The First Amendment does not constrain private action. A person has the right to say whatever he wants. Everyone else has the right to call him a jackass. Everyone else has the right not to associate with him, buy tickets to his performances, jerseys, or pictures.

Copernicus said...

You are correct, but I'd limit what they have a "right" to do with calling him the N-word, which to me is not free speech, but hate speech.