Point one: Sure, yeah, everyone has "free speech". The government may not regulate. The NFL protests are, ostensibly, protected "symbolic speech", supposedly conveying something via an act, rather than using words. But speech is not protected from employer regulation of workers (in this case, entertainers) regarding what they may say to customers in the workplace. Nor is speech protected from criticism when it's obnoxious, ignorant, pretextual, or just ineffective. So let's stop yammering about "honoring the players' right to free speech".
Point two, regarding Donald Trump's saying that the "sonofabitches" should be yanked off the field. That's Donald Trump's "free speech" and he's also entitled to it. And no, calling people who are doing something offensive and rude "S.O.B.s" isn't "racist". It's a colloquialism that means something along the lines of "jerk". Or "asshole". It isn't literally to be translated as an insult of the S.O.B.'s actual mother or ethnicity. Please. Let's stop with the stupidity; if nothing else, media writers and talkers are supposed to be proficient in language and communication. (And no, his language was neither crude nor inappropriate. Let's cut the specious Victoriana already. Rap music, anyone? Seen a Hollywood movie lately?)
Point three: "Speech" is about communication. Communication uses words, or, in this case, "symbolic actions" in lieu of words, to convey a message. What these knee-jerkers are in fact communicating is a great big "fuck you" to the flag, the National Anthem, the United States, the military, and the majority of their patrons. If that's not what was intended to be "communicated" then they need to change the "words" they are using and get more literate. If you order strawberry icecream you can't justifiably complain after the fact to the waiter that by saying "strawberry icecream" you really meant to order a beer.
There's a two-fold communications problem with these knee protests. The lesser problem is that taking a knee is a universal symbol over time and place of subservience; the position conveys no "protest" message that makes any sense. The larger problem is that the thoughtless contrarianism in the actual context of refusing to stand for the National Anthem directly conveys disdain for traditional American symbols of unity, patriotism, military sacrifice and country. Not unlike looting and rioting, it does not convey whatever other or "actual" muddled message it is that is supposed to be being conveyed (if there indeed even is one), nor do the multifarious explanations of outsider apologists and propagandists.
For the well-meaning and sincere ignoramii who "supportively" also are locking arms, "taking a knee" and/or uttering a variety of convoluted "interpretations": it's time to stop being used and snookered. What is occurring is no different from child behavor that is thrillingly "got away with" (invariably followed by snickering after the fact when teacher or parent actually buys the ringleader's lame excuse for what most of the children, tee hee hee, just went along with because it seemed daring and fun.) There is no belief here in any activist cause, other than Colin Kaepernick's messaging along the lines of $crew the $ucka$, $crew their beloved ceremonie$, and cop$ are pig$. (If there were anything else, other than, perhaps, an update to include "$crew Trump", it would be communicated articulately.) These "role model" football players are behaving obnoxiously, and children now are imitating them.
UPDATE Oct 02, 2017: Excellent article by Douglas Gibbs: ",,,a kick in the gut of people like me who were willing to put our lives on the line while serving in the United States Military..."
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