Sep. 25th, 2017

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It occurs to me that there is little difference in principle between NFL players "taking a knee" as a form of protest during the playing of our national anthem before a game and members of, say, the Westboro Baptist Church "protesting" military funerals by trying to disrupt such ceremonies, jeering at funeral attendees, and engaging in similar disrespectful behavior.

If, at this point, you are prepared to stop me and point out that the Westboro people are a hateful bunch who spout hateful things (a position with which I agree, by the way), then I nevertheless have to ask you: "Do you think the First Amendment applies to everyone, or does it apply only to those whose opinions you approve of?"

While both groups may claim (disingenuously, in my opinion) to be doing what they do to get some kind of higher point across, what both actually accomplish (and originally intend, I think) is to push the buttons of the audience with whom they are engaging.

There is, however, one big difference between the two in practical terms. The Westboro bozos enrage people one relatively small group of funeral attendees at a time. Nobody among the Westboro people is prominent nationally (that I know of), nobody really cares about them, and television coverage of their antics is rare. On the other hand, by their virtue-signaling, the NFL players—who are well known among fans of the game and appear on national television pretty much every week—are succeeding at repeatedly ticking off hundreds of thousands of people (and fans) in one go, and very few of those people will care if a knee was taken to protest U.S. foreign policy, the President's tweets, climate change, or the shake machine being on the fritz at McDonald's.

And pushing the buttons of such numbers of people can only have the opposite effect, i.e., it will only benefit Trump, in my opinion.

Something to think about, no?


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