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Ignorant Anthem protesters deserve public censure

Like Pokemon Go, sitting during the National Anthem at the beginning of sports and other events has become trendy lately. It even seems to have invaded north Louisiana, where at a Haughton High School football game some witnessed this.

Jurisprudence establishing not having to show respect to the concept of America goes back decades, when in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the state could not compel students to show reverence to the symbols of the country. Even though the objection in this case rested on religious grounds, the Court’s majority decision framed its argument on the free speech aspects of the First Amendment.

On that basis, of late the busybodies at the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent out a notice to the state’s school districts reminding that these could not make standing during the Anthem compulsory, asserting that they had received complaints that some districts had issued a dictate that students do so. As the state cannot do this regarding this most restrictive population, students, it certainly cannot compel this from the general population.

Of course, a number of reasons could explain the lack of standing at the Haughton game, beginning with laziness. Some people may be so inattentive to the ceremony that they don’t even realize what’s going on. But even if intentionally staying seated, some motivations are reasonable.

For example, the original case involved Jehovah’s Witnesses following their religious beliefs in that such a display equated to idolatry. Setting religion aside, one could object reasonably to showing the flag or Anthem respect, for example if one believed these symbolized the willingness of America to slaughter legally the unborn for reasons besides saving other humans.

So spying people apparently intentionally refusing to stand during the Anthem as a protest against the country’s shortcomings may derive from some informed, logical process, even if that may betray a throwing the baby out with the bathwater approach, for unimpeachably history has shown America to act much more as a force for good than evil in the world. You can fault their decision calculus that assigns so much value to one aspect that outweighs all others, but not their justification.

Yet, if anything, rhetoric about the bulk of recent not standing cases indicates exceptionally poor judgment by those doing so. For example, one athlete claims it has to do with some kind of police war on blacks, where reputedly police disproportionately target blacks for criminal activity if not use of deadly force – when in fact a mountain of statistics disproves this notion and, if anything, shows how police have become particularly reticent to use deadly force against black suspects. Another asserts her protest comes from society’s alleged treatment of those who identify as homosexuals – even though recent jurisprudence and state actions have awarded special privileges to them.

These dimmer bulbs have the same right to express their loathing of the country for these imaginary reasons as do those with well-founded justifications, as well as those who signal their affection by standing during the Anthem. Freedom of speech extends further to expressions given by those who do stand about those who don’t.

It’s rather boorish, if not presumptuous, to announce to those in particular or to a general audience that those who make their protest public this way are ignorant losers for not standing without knowing why they don’t. But in the cases where those involved have revealed bogus reasons for protest, people should exercise their right to censure and shame these confused folk, with the optimistic outcome that they become educated from the incident. After all, if you broadcast your opinion about something, they also can broadcast their opinion about something that may not flatter you.

You have the right to make a statement, but no protection from facing criticism for it. That goes for both those who show respect or disrespect to the country’s symbols, regardless of rationale.

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