This Comment of the Day is from me, Jack Marshall, blog proprietor and moderator.
I just finished writing it in response to a comment that I almost described as another incompetent quote; my comment begins with it. But that’s not really fair. What prompted this indeed is a spectacularly wrong quote, but still a useful one. This is the value (I hope) of discourse here. Even wildly misguided debate points can enlighten. This one enlightened me: now I know that the supporters of the NFL Kneelers are, beyond question, not processing reality, either out of confusion or ideological fervor. Their position does not make sense; it’s as simple as that. I have to read a clear, purposeful expression of a bad argument sometimes to understand what exactly is so wrong with it.
This is a depersonalized version of what I just wrote in the comment thread, which was a bit mean. (It also had some typos, which I think I fixed, and a couple of other edits.) Luckily, I know that the recipient, unlike some people, won’t sue me for hurting his delicate feelings, if in fact I did.
Here is my Comment of the Day on the post, Your NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck Update: Incompetent Quotes:
“Since when do one’s “deeply held convictions” give one the right to force others to live by them? No NFL viewer’s deeply held convictions are meaningfully threatened by this silent protest. They remain free to show respect to the flag in whatever way feels right to them. You are the one advocating for a restriction of the NFL players’ freedom of expression. And while that restriction is legal, it is neither ethical nor necessary. It is, in fact, petty and stupid.”
This is, honestly, willfully or naively obtuse.
The NFL players ARE restricted by the nature of their work and the business they work in. This is so simple.
I am a perfect example of the problem you seem incapable of grasping. I am the Customer. I go to entertainment, like everyone else who does, to be entertained. I do not go to be involuntarily shamed, “Woked”, harangued, persuaded, bitched to or proselytized, silently, verbally or symbolically. I’m not paying for that, and it interferes with my enjoyment, both substantively and as a matter of principle. If said entertainment advertises that “before the game/show.performance, the captive audience will be subjected to a brief but heart-felt statement by the players/actors/performers regarding [IT DOESN’T MATTER], I appreciate the candor, and I’m not buying a ticket. If establishments that grants me admission in exchange for my attention, patronage and hard-earned cash, pollutes my entertainment by allowing this non-entertaining content without notice, I regard it as a breach of our deal.
Remember, I ran a professional theater company, successfully, for 20 years. And the nice, often progressive actors, board members and staffers were always asking that we have a “curtain speech” urging the audience to contribute for this cause or that crisis, AIDS research, to help a member of the theater community who had been attacked by wolves or something equally terrible, or even to raise money for my company. My answer was always the same.
NO. NEVER. We do not take advantage of our audience that way, and exploit the fact that they are seated expecting a performance to force a lobbying effort on them, and it doesn’t matter if I agree with the cause or not. It’s wrong, It is in fact, the Saint’s Excuse. (Everybody Does It was also often cited.)
I wasn’t limiting anyone’s freedom of expression then, and no one is advocating restriction of the NFL players’ freedom of expression now. They can say and write whatever dumb (or not) thing they choose when they are not doing the job their employer is paying them to do.
When they are on a field paid for by the employer, in uniforms representing the employer, in front of individuals who have paid money to their employer based on the representation that they will do what the employer is paying them to do and not imitating Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the SDS, Jane Fonda, “Hamilton”, Kermit the Frog, Yoko Ono, Joan Baez or anyone else, then they must and should do exactly what their employers tell them to do in the best interests of their business ,in fairness and with the trust of their customers. No more, no less.
This is neither controversial, nor unconstitutional. It is, or should be, obvious. It isn’t conservative nor liberal. It is how the world works, and should work. It is fair. It is honest. It is responsible.
Now, if those ticket-buyers and the people who watch the game/show remotely on TV decide that they WANT their experience to contain half-baked,ill-defined, agitprop during the National Anthem that isn’t really about the National Anthem although did you know that the third verse none of the protesters or anyone else can recite or have ever sung is kind of racist if you think about it a certain way, well fine. Then the entertainment business can decided to add that agitprop to the product, because the market will have spoken.
That, however, is the opposite of what is happening. Case closed. End of debate and attempted imposition of new product Many fans resent the new feature; most fans are willing to tolerate it; and most of the people applauding it aren’t buying tickets anyway.
If the NFL Kneelers were the most articulate, brilliant, principled, wise and charismatic advocates in the history of protests, none of this would change, or should change.
Is this clear now?
I sure hope so.