Comment Of The Day: “Your NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck Update: Incompetent Quotes”

…or, in the alternative, are you ready for some vague, annoying protest by a scattering of players during the National Anthem, and THEN some football?

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.


111 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Your NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck Update: Incompetent Quotes”

  1. 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.

    So you stay away from all games where the national anthem is performed, then?

    Because that’s literally what you’re describing. The difference between the examples you gave and the situation with the NFL is that with the NFL, the players are not asking to communicate a political message to the audience before a game; rather, they are being asked to communicate a political message before the game. You just didn’t notice because it was a tradition, and because most players have traditionally complied with this message.

    If you, the director, tried to force your actors to deliver a political message prior to one of your shows, and one of your actors refused, I would absolutely support that actor. If you then fired that actor, I would say that while you have the right to do so, it would still be a shitty thing to do.

    • This is a bad argument, and I think that on some level you’re aware of it. Your assertion, that the national anthem is political speech, and synonymous with Kaepernick’s protest, only holds water is you grotesquely stretch the definition of “political speech”. When someone asserts that we consider definitions far afield from the normal interpretations of the words as we commonly understand them, it’s usually because they can’t find a way to make their point otherwise. And if they can’t do that, it’s usually because they’re wrong.

      If anything that might have something to do with politics is political speech, then everything, from the players haircuts to the brand deals, to the equipment used, the plays played and the stadium they sit in could be considered facets of political discourse… But we don’t think like that. Because it isn’t useful. It isn’t intuitive. But I suppose in this very narrow set of circumstances, it sure is useful to you, isn’t it?

      • Even if you do not accept that it is political, Jack said that “heartfelt statements” about unrelated issues should not be done before a show, period. Asking for donations to the Red Cross isn’t intuitively political to most people, but Jack would think doing that before a show is wrong.

        The national anthem is certainly a statement unrelated to the main event.

          • In this particular context, it is directly related, because one is standing to honor the nation during the anthem at a game of the National Football League. The organization is deliberately patriotic, and communities build stadiums to hold such events out of civic, and ultimately national pride.

            • In this particular context, it is directly related, because one is standing to honor the nation during the anthem at a game of the National Football League.

              This strikes me as a stretch.

        • And, regardless of Tex and Rich’s points (which are valid) *you* don’t get to decide which parts of the show are related or unrelated to the main event. That is entirely up to the people producing the event and the people buying tickets to support it. The anthem is a well known and predetermined part of the event, as are cheerleaders, or selling alcohol. Everyone taking a job working on the event should be able to come to terms with those things, whether they like them or not, and not distract people trying to enjoy them.

          • (It should go without saying, but something that is not either well known and predetermined or advertised *can’t* be said to be part of the event because ticket buyers couldn’t be aware of it when buying tickets, so couldn’t make an informed decision to support it.)

        • Whether the anthem is related to the main event or not is irrelevant. I mean… So is the cheer squad, the halftime show, and the concession booths, if we apply your standard.

          I attend probably a dozen games a year between the CFL, NHL, AHL, and AAIPB. And the reason I attend those games as opposed to just watching them on TV or listening to them on the radio is because the experience is different. There was one game where the Bombers got two Jets… They looked kinda like an F-18, but I’m not any kind of expert…. to do a pass over the field immediately after the anthem. I almost shat myself, but it was awesome.

          We are there to be entertained, we are there to celebrate competition, camaraderie, the hundreds of good thoughts and feelings the thousands of people all feel at the same time. It’s like a city wide team building event. And we think the anthem is important, we think it’s part of that process. You don’t have to understand that, but you do have to get over it… Because you aren’t going to change it.

          • And I mean…. Just taking a step back here… Can we all appreciate how cripplingly stupid it is to set yourself up politically in opposition to your national anthem? As edgy as it might be to burn flags, protest incoherently, and kneel for the anthem… Who are you performing for? How many friends do you think you’re making? And are they the kind of friends you want?

              • So you say. Look, even if I were to take that at face value, and even if I thought the players message was unified, and represented by those sentiments, the fact of the matter is that people think it is in opposition to the anthem.

                And I can forgive them their train of thought… I mean, the player’s message Isn’t anything close to unified: a player over the weekend said that he knelt in solidarity with women over the goddamned “pay gap”. Kaepernick’s original message did not actually use the word “police” once… He alluded to “people on paid leave” which… I get what he was attempting to say… but you have to admit is a fucking inarticulate way to put it.

                It’s not the fan’s job to put the player’s gobbledygook through a codex to try to decipher the fuck their activism is about, it was the player’s job to well… actually, it was the player’s job to play football. But the burden of clarity was on the players, and they failed.

              • But on a completely different bent.. I want to point out the absurdity of the statement: “The kneeling is not in opposition to the anthem.”

                What is it then?

                Support for the anthem? Opposition to America, which the anthem represents, but not specifically the anthem? Maybe it’s not actually about the anthem at all and it’s just a massive coincidence that the players happen to kneel during it!

                • The clear message is that America is not living up to the principles in the anthem. Hence why they are on one knee. It’s powerful symbolism.

                  That isn’t in opposition to the anthem. It’s saying we need to do better before we are worthy of the anthem.

                  • 1. There is no “clear message” at all. If there was a clear message, we would be having this discussion.
                    2. The anthem espouses no principles. It recites a moment of fear, survival and hope. That the country is free and brave is beyond argument.
                    3. We always need to do better. The US has done more good than any nation in existence, as a provable fact. That’s not a useful or productive message, not is it “clear” that that is the message.
                    4. But it doesn’t matter, because on the football field is not the place for ANY message.

  2. After I left my comment about my time at the Renaissance Festival, your point above became totally clear. The anthem in the context of a football game isn’t a patriotic pledge, it’s a part of the spectacle. People buy tickets to see football, sure, and to see cheerleaders and a halftime show and to freeze their butts off (weather permitting) and drink beer… and to see the national anthem. Football might be the only one of those things *necessary* to the experience, but the tickets sold are for the full experience.

    A football player’s role once the game starts is to play football, but it’s also part of their role to play along and not draw attention away from the rest of it. They don’t have to believe in America or the anthem any more than I had to believe in the ideals of Henry VIII at the renaissance festival, they just have to not take away from the experience for other people. If a player was protesting and drawing attention while the cheerleaders or marching bands were doing their halftime show, people would be right to consider it disrespectful to the performers and audience, no matter how righteous the cause. In the case of the anthem, the “performer” is not just the singer/musicians, but the flag and the people and ideals those things represent. No matter the cause, and no matter how respectful you think you’re being, if you draw attention away from those things you’re interrupting a performance that’s part (however small) of the entertainment that people paid to see.

    • Well said.

      I’d like to add:

      Football may be the subject of the entertainment, but the object is entertainment, and the vehicle is *a community gathering in public*, specifically the celebrate and enjoy communal gathering. Events like that, *by their own nature* are CIVIC events. The national anthem clearly has a role at events like that. If they didn’t have the anthem, that would be fine. But they have the anthem, and appropriately so.

      And any American, who shares the values of America, is rightly moved to demonstrate respect for those values by demonstrating respect for the symbols of those values in a civic event such as the gathering of the community like this.

      To not render the culturally accepted sign of respect in this situation, that is, standing quietly or singing along, clearly communicates disrespect, and even more egregiously: to engage in conduct specifically designed to distract and bring attention to oneself, is more so. Hence the fair negative reaction. Hence the plummet in popularity. Hence it would be ethical for employers to proscribe the behavior harming the business.

      Painfully simple.

  3. Did ticket sales drop the first time they started playing the anthem at games? Did athletes or team owners have to wage a massive PR campaign to get people to accept playing the anthem before games?

    Somehow I doubt it. Remember this Ethics Heros post?

    • This actually happens, infrequently, granted, but about once a year, in hockey at least.

      After a Mic failure in Toronto, fans finished the SSB, and then to thank them, Nashville fans joined in for the Canadian Anthem.

      After a terrorist attack in Ottawa, Pittsburgh fans hosting the Ottawa sentors showed a little bit of love:

      Another mic fail, this time in Vancouver:

  4. Ah yes, the same actors, singers and other performers who refuse to pose for pictures or sign autographs and say “the price of the ticket gets you the show and that’s it,” are the same ones who say “the ticket price gets you everything including the curtain speech.” Hypocrites. Their purpose, and the purpose of professional athletes, is primarily to entertain, not deliver political messages, unless they are specifically hired to do so. It’s definitely not to alienate the customer base by picking a divisive fight over the minimal patriotic act of standing for the national anthem. Yes, they sometimes play up the patriotism with color guards on the 50-yard line and flyovers by military jets. However, the fact that they do that to APPEAL to the customers, not annoy them, should send a pretty clear signal that the owners don’t need or want the entertainers undercutting this appeal by drawing attention to themselves and disagreeing with the customers the owners are trying to appeal to.

    Your question to Jack as to whether he stays away from all events where the national anthem is played is moronic and represents an attempt to deliberately misunderstand what he said. That’s a particularly annoying tactic and guaranteed just to make the other person in the conversation annoyed. He is not going to come around to your point of view if you do that.

    For the last time, patriotism isn’t political.

        • Playing on the NFL isn’t required by law nor does tingle with a million dollar paycheck.

          Are we really doing this?

          • Neither your response nor Gamereg’s response really answers the question.

            As a teacher, I can compel all kinds of speech from my students. I can make them read out loud. I can make them apologize to others that they have wronged. I can make them say all kinds of things.

            But I can’t make them recite the pledge of allegiance.

            Because patriotism is political.

            • From Merriam-Webster: love for or devotion to one’s country. Please tell me what is political about that. No, schools can’t compel participation in the pledge, because the JWs, who don’t even celebrate their own birthdays, raised a stink with a lawsuit. An employer can compel participation, since the employee is free to walk away from employment. Please stop playing the fool.

            • Do teachers still lead the Pledge of Allegiance, or has that been done away with? I recall a long while back some kids in Washington state started being disruptive during the Pledge. When they cried “Free Speech”, the response they could stay seated, but not do anything disruptive.

              Anyway, I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. You can make employees do a lot of things that you can’t make schoolkids do. The anthem, and the athletes standing for it, is part of the pageantry of the experience, and it’s bad form for the players to visibly detract from that.

            • Speaking a pledge is one thing. Regardless of how political the content is, you can’t force students swear an oath of fealty. Even though it’s not expected to be literally binding, it is expected to be taken at least a little seriously. There isn’t any educational benefit to making students recite it every morning.

              Standing respectfully when a national anthem is played is something else entirely. That’s just showing basic courtesy to the country you’re currently in, regardless of your opinions about its government. I’d stand for the North Korean anthem if I was invited into the country, even though I want to arrest its government. It carries no cost and considerable benefits to forego the opportunity to thumb my nose at them. Disruption, such as grandstanding or heckling, is only an effective tool when operating under Protagonist-Centered Morality, where victory is declared when the Designated Villain is foiled in their perfectly reasonable goals, and no constructive reconciliation is expected.

              • Yes, I can’t wait for those relying on this apples to oranges comparison between the anthem and the pledge to be disabused of their reliance on it. It’s a deeply flawed analogy as you describe it.

            • Because a school is, in many ways, “the government,” and so in enough ways that the Supreme Court has found forcing the pledge to be compelled government speech, i.e., a First Amendment problem.

              The NFL is a private enterprise. It may legally compel speech, and punish speech which hurts its image and market standing.

              This is uncomplicated, Chis, and you know it. It has nothing to do with the subject matter of the speech.

              • And don’t forget the “God” part, which makes the pledge an unequivocal religious statement as well.

                Even as a kid, I found the pledge troubling and Hitler-Youth-ish. A popular kids show in Boston—creepily called “The Big Brother Show”—also had a daily “Toast to the President,” where the kids stood and toasted Ike with a glass of milk, and the camera settled on a framed photo of the President as “Hail to the Chief” played. Madeline Murray O’Hare killed the pledge eventually with her famous school prayer law suit.

                No case ever held that schools had to stop teaching ethics and values, but that was in part an unanticipated consequence of the banning of class pledges and prayers.

                • Yes, that’s also true. That just means there’s more than one First Amendment problem with it.

                  I never found it troubling, I guess because of where and when I grew up. But I think SCOTUS got it right.

                • Where is the pledge banned? I still lead the pledge on a daily basis (or at least try to–occasionally we can’t find the time), I just tell the students that they are not required to participate.

                • Once I could process concepts maturely, I felt the pledge is completely out of place in our Republic. I don’t have Heinlein’s exact words, but when he was discussing compulsory service, such as the draft, and I think the principle is applicable to the pledge, he said something to the effect: If a republic…or if any culture can’t naturally generate the kind of zeal to defend it’s values and must resort to compelled defense, it’s a culture not worth defending. I think this applies to the pledge of allegiance: The Constitution protects the average citizen’s rights enough that they should care for it enough that they should be loyal to it *without* taking an oath (of course, the same zeal could be expected of Army officers, who I AM completely fine with taking Oaths to support and defend the Constitution…etc).

                  That being said, one should be *expected* culturally to so zealously love the values of the nation that bind us as one people and secure our liberties, that they are moved through respect to render such respect to the symbols of those values. Which is why it IS disrespectful NOT to do so. And why it is completely fair to interpret individuals NOT doing so as actively disrespecting those values

                  Again… hence the stink raised over the temper tantrum thrown by Kaepernick and company.

            • I’m sick and tired of Chris’ constant trolling deflections and utter obtuseness.

              Chris’ initial question was , “Why can’t schools force children to recite the pledge of allegiance?”

              Chris wrote, “Neither your response nor Gamereg’s response really answers the question.”, “But I can’t make them recite the pledge of allegiance.”

              The Pledge of Allegiance is NOT equivalent to the National Anthem. The national anthem does not contain any political pledges or any pledges of any kind what-so-ever.

              National Anthem (Commonly Sung Version)
              O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
              What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
              Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
              O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
              And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
              Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
              O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
              O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

              Pledge of Allegiance (Currently Version)
              I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

              The Pledge of Allegiance is expressing allegiance to, devotion to and vigorous supporting one’s country.

              The National Anthem is remembering and respecting the struggles we went through as a fledgling nation to get the liberties we enjoy as a nation.

              So Chris, how about you stop trying to deflect this conversation like an obtuse troll with absolutely ridiculous comparisons that imply that the National Anthem is politically equivalently to the Pledge of Allegiance.

              Final rhetorical question; how the hell can a individual, such as yourself, that cannot intellectually separate these simple concepts be expected to teaching Middle School students the differences between any simple concepts. Your reasoning skills are immature; sometimes it appears that your intellectual maturity isn’t any better than those your are tasked to teach.

              • “I’m sick and tired of Chris’ constant trolling deflections and utter obtuseness.”

                You are not alone. Unfortunately we’re stuck with him unless and until Jack turfs him out the door.

                • Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “You are not alone. Unfortunately we’re stuck with him unless and until Jack turfs him out the door.”

                  Personally I’d much rather Chris stop using this facade of stupidity that he’s using to troll; we see the real Chris peek through once in a while and that’s refreshing.

              • My point was that they are both patriotic excercises, and thus should not be compelled, either by the government or by employers (even though the latter can legally do that).

                It’s a very simple point, and it stands.

                • It is a simple point, but worthless, frankly. Employers should be able to compel speech, or much more likely, compel employees not to speak about certain things.

                  For example, in what world would it be fair to allow employees to freely leak sensitive but non-proprietary information to everyone, including their competition? Or to criticize management in the manner of many politicians, who take comments out of context? Or to speak rudely to customers with whom they disagree on some matter without consequence, or refuse to serve customers on some free speech related topic like… oh, I don’t know, racial animus? Is this really what you’re advocating for?

                  Chris, none of this would pass muster for a reasonable person, yet you spout it out without apparently considering the consequences. Is this really typical of your thinking? I hope not. Your point is invalid, and frankly stupid. Way too stupid for a smart guy like you to be trying to defend.

                • Chris wrote, “My point was that they are both patriotic exercises, and thus should not be compelled, either by the government or by employers…”

                  Actually Chris, your point over and over again has been that the National Anthem is political; political and patriotic (now you’re saying “patriotic exercises” – stop shifting the fucking goal posts) are not equivalent; but never mind that.

                  Look up the word patriotic Chris, it’s defined as “love for or devotion to one’s country”. That is not what the National Anthem is doing, it’s remembering and respecting the struggles we went through as a fledgling nation to get the liberties we enjoy as a nation.

                  Chris wrote, “It’s a very simple point, and it stands.”

                  Whatever helps you sleep at night.

                • I can see where your paradigm comes from, I think. The Pledge of Allegiance is patriotic on its face, and standing for the National Anthem might be seen as indicating a similar commitment.

                  To me, however, standing for the National Anthem implies no commitment, but rather a mere show of respect. I would probably bow for a monarch as a token gesture of respect, assuming I didn’t want to make a statement of defiance, but either way I wouldn’t recognize any authority they claimed over me.

                  I can see that by the same argument, the football players are making a legitimate statement of defiance, but regardless of their… “reasons” for doing so, their employer can prohibit them from making such a statement while they’re on the clock at an event sponsored by the employer, just like the employer can forbid them from swearing while in uniform or during games. They’re performers, and while the performance is happening (i.e. once scheduled events like the Anthem have started), what they do is governed by their company. Does that make sense?

                  To provide a more illustrative example, which I think is directly analogous if a bit more dramatic, if they played the National Anthem at Walt Disney World and Micky, Donald, or Goofy decided to take a knee, effectively breaking character, would you say the park has no right to fire them for that?

                  • P.S. This comment brought to you by Difficult Conversations, a book that I believe literally everyone should read, and out of which you’d all get a lot of mileage. Implementing the practices may be difficult, but I am confident you can do it. Watch your disagreements actually get somewhere!

      • Not because patriotism is political but because some lawyer argued successfully before a progressive judge that ruled the school is an arm of the government and thus cannot compel a child to recite the pledge.

        What is left out of this is the construct of belonging to a groups social contract. Does the child renounce his her citizenship by not pledging allegiance? Sure it may be archaic to pledge allegiance but such practices bind us together as a society. As each of these archaic institutions fade from practice we slowly lose any sense of culture, values, social mores or just polite behavior.

        But, perhaps that is the goal. By destroying existing traditions new traditions that support the new order. Then the new traditions can be compelled when the Constitution which is the foundation of the nation to which we make the pledge is swept into the dustbin of history simply because it was written by old white male slave owners.

          • The Affleck diversion! A classic. “You are so gross I don’t even want to rebut you, because I am pure and virtuous.”

            Nah, CM has an opinion… And the benefits of social contracts can’t be undersold… They are part of the glue that binds us together, part of what keeps us asking “What is right?” as opposed to “What can I get away with?”… But they also can’t really be enforced, especially by law.

            No, the reason why the pledge cannot be coerced out of children is multifaceted… The government shouldn’t be able to coerce a pledge out of anyone, right off the top of my head (the difference being that one is a pledge, patriotism is irrelevant.). But more to the point, with the NFL… The fans in the stands DON’T have to stand for the anthem, they CAN kneel for it, ushers aren’t going to rip them out of their rows and toss them out… The PLAYERS are paid MILLIONS of dollars for their JOB, of which standing for the anthem can be considered part of from their morality clause. If at any time the principles of the players actually overcame their love of their paycheques, the easy way to avoid the trouble of standing for the anthem could be completely avoided by resigning.

      • If it’s a private school, they can; if public, it’s an agent of the government. The private school would be the analog for the NFL.

        • Governments can’t ban speech based on content. It can ban non-conforming conduct by teachers based on school policies. You really think a public school can’t fire a teacher for teaching sex positions to third graders, or promoting Marxism in the 6th grade?

          • Jack, did you mean to be responding to me? I was answering Chris’ “Why can’t schools force children to recite the pledge of allegiance?”

          • Jack, did you mean to be responding to me? I was answering Chris’ “Why can’t schools force children to recite the pledge of allegiance?” Noting, to him, that private schools generally COULD require certain behavior of students, but public schools were more limited.

            Sorry for the confusion…my first posting of this question to you showed up under “cathammer” ID, that didn’t match my previous comment (not intentional…seems to vary depending on what other sites I’ve recently logged into). It’s sort of hard to follow who is responding to what in a long string of replies here, and there’s no edit or delete.


        • Since this reply was so detached from Chris’ original statement I guess I should have quoted Chris.

          Chris wrote, “Why can’t schools force children to recite the pledge of allegiance?”

          …to which I reply…


  5. So the Left thinks free speech is important when it’s their… for lack of a better word, “message”, that’s being silenced, never mind that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private enterprises.

    In the spirit of exploring the edge cases, does the idea of unsolicited solicitations being unethical include awareness posters in the establishment you’re patronizing? It seems to me that rather than being inherently unethical, informing people about causes might just be another decision on the part of the individual business, based on what their customers are willing to accept. After all, sponsorship advertisements aren’t inherently unethical, are they?

  6. Owners of Blacks always had the right to regulate their conduct in the field.
    Renters of Blacks – good question.

    Because there’s still a difference between chattel slavery and a contractual relationship freely entered into. If there’s a clause in the contract that regulates, or implied regulation, of freedom of respectful political expression, then certainly.

    Absent such a clause, I leave that to the legal profession. Can an employer arbitrarily impose additional obligations on the employee on pain of dismissal ? Can an employee arbitrarily demand additional employer obligations and abrogate the contract without penalty unless they are granted?

    For a contract to be freely entered into, there must be some equality of power. A signature gained at the point of a gun is not free. Even if the gun is a financial one. ,(Unions take note – this sword has two edges)

    • This legal balderdash. Conduct unrelated to a job on the job is intrinsically forbidden. Conduct harmful to th employer is always grounds for dismissal. In personal services contracts, there are no penalties for non-performance unless damages can be proven. A football player can quit; he just forfeits his contract.

    • Welp, there it is. The stupidest thing I’ve read today…and there was some stiff competition.

      Did anyone read past “Renters of Blacks”? I mean…I did. I just seriously considered stopping there.

      • I’m still not exactly sure where she was going with that. Was she actually questioning whether a private employer could limit workplace behavior without a contract specifically granting permission to do so?

        • Yeah. I think that is kinda the direction she had to be going. I don’t think it was well thought out. She has a penchant for stringing together clever-sounding pieces to take some snarky jabs at free markets and conservatism. But they mostly don’t work out in the end. Too meme-like.

          Could imagine the burdensome life we’d all live if employment contracts required that level of detail? Unfathomable. Commerce and daily interactions would grind to a halt.

    • What the hell did I just read? I think that comment from Sue might just fall into the category of authentic frontier gibberish if not that then maybe communication malpractice.

      It was 11:23 pm, maybe she composed and posted this after an evening of consuming mass quantities.

  7. most fans are willing to tolerate it; and most of the people applauding it aren’t buying tickets anyway

    I think we aren’t getting a true picture of how many NFL/sports fans don’t like these exhibitions due to the ability (learned in childhood, and perfected by adolescence) to ignore, not only commercials, but anything extraneous to the performance. That’s what the mute button, iPhone apps and trips to the bathroom or kitchen are for. Or just unfocusing your eyes and yawning (unfocusing your ears).

    This is the age of …. I don’t know what to call it …. disbursement? personalization? overabundance of choice? It is the social equivalent of forty selections of breakfast cereal on supermarket shelves, of 500+ channels of television, of an infinite number of imagined victims of imagined oppression, including oneself. It is the “embarrassment of riches” for the not-rich, the “common man.” Something will always be there — or just around the corner, or on eBay . . . or there will be something elsewhere that your devices, which now “know” you, will suggest. So a few moments (minutes) of histrionics on the football field is not even worth a “what are they doing, daddy?” except from those who find it unpatriotic or politically advantageous. By tuning out and turning off, as well as trying to figure out what the Kneelers are kneeling for (or adding one’s own interpretations), the problem is exacerbated; the whole point is lost.

    By interrupting the SPIRIT of the occasion (the singing of the Star Spangled Banner), the Kneelers are promoting divisiveness (the opposite of the “diversity” some claim); in essence, they have degraded their national anthem into the equivalent of a muddle of advertisements for their individual brands of breakfast cereal.

    The following was criticized as over the top, sappy, musically controversial and yes, political in many ways, but that was after the tears dried. Its nonetheless contagious spirit was a call to unification and a celebration of a whole … of an indivisible people. Or, at the very least, the promise of it.

    Herewith, in memory, in all its 4/4 tempo glory:

  8. Jack, what do you think about movie theaters collecting for charities before the show starts? I have to do that a lot at my job.

    • Jeff H. wrote, “Jack, what do you think about movie theaters collecting for charities before the show starts? I have to do that a lot at my job.”

      I go to a movie maybe once a year and I’ve never seen that happen.

    • No theaters I attend do that; I don’t recall if I’ve ever been to a movie theater that did. If it happened, I’d register a complaint, send a letter to management, and not return. It’s a bait and switch. I resent it.

      • Safeway grocery stores have an annoying feature on their credit card point of sale devices that ask you if you want to give various amounts of money to some charity du jour before you can opt out and complete your transaction. I find it incredibly annoying. Virtue signalling and a shakedown all in one.

      • How about afterwards out in the lobby? Some of the theaters in New York do that, the actors jingling their collection cans and calling out “Broadway cares, and so should you!”

      • [Reply to Jack’s Oct 20 at 10:05 am – also to Jeff H’s Oct 20 at 9:55 am]

        “No theaters I attend do that; I don’t recall if I’ve ever been to a movie theater that did.”

        I can’t remember offhand exactly when the movie, “Thelma and Louise” was released. But I strongly believe it was the early 1990s; maybe it was the later 1990s. My wife and I went to see it at a theater either in Reston or Herndon, Virginia – probably Reston.

        After most theater patrons were seated, and before the room was darkened to show the trailers (previews), a guy, who was an employee of the theater, walked up to the front of the theater, in front of the screen, and announced that he was passing around a hat, or some other kind of container, for patrons who might like to donate to some specific cause. I honestly don’t recall what the cause was. It might have been domestic abuse, but it could have been anything. We passed the hat and put nothing in it.

        Afterwards, my wife mentioned the incident, intending to vent her annoyance. We were of the same mind that we had been ambushed by a charity troll, or trolling organization of some kind. To me, it seemed as if the theater and perhaps one of its advertisers had colluded with an expectation that people of certain political persuasions were likely to attend the movie in a strong majority, and thus would put much money in the hat.

        “If it happened, I’d register a complaint, send a letter to management, and not return. It’s a bait and switch. I resent it.”

        I (we) did none of that, but we felt similar resentment. The solicitation prior to the movie being shown also left a bitter suspicion in my mind that “Thelma and Louise” – which was, thank GOD, only fiction, only someone’s fantasy about two women on the lam – was bait for someone else to promote their political agenda.

        I don’t think I would have liked the movie, anyway, even if the solicitation had not happened: Parts were funny; parts were poignant; most parts were tragic, and depicted some of the stupidest and most disgusting behaviors that humans are capable of – but with an implicit twist of seeming to preach that some of those stupid, disgusting behaviors are (were) heroic.

  9. I’m at the point where I can’t be bothered to respond to Chris’s silly posturing on this topic, or whatever he’s doing. I wrote the comment to finally put his obstinacy to bed: read the original “mean” version, where I referred to his insulting the memory of his apparently diseased brain. I know why the players keep saying they have a right to protest: they aren’t very bright. I know why the NFL has been so flaccid: it’s incompetent and cowardly. I know why Leftist pundits are supporting the players:they want to promote as much racial and social division as possible: that’s the game plan. But nobody with an education and functioning cranial cells can keep making good faith arguments like Chris has been. Either he is in denial, or just following mindless partisan talking points, or sticking his fingers in his ears while he shouts NANANANANA! This is “The sky isn’t blue, it’s plaid!”, Big Lie level stuff, as well as “You have a right to your opinion, but not your own facts.”

    I don’t get it. The spectacle undermines his credibility, but also the ideology he subscribes to. It is a demonstration of how damaging ideological lock-step can be. As with his quote that sparked my comment, I guess that has values.

    • Jack, I salute you and TexAggie and Zoltar and Steve in NJ, among others, for continuing to engage with Chris. For my own mental and emotional well being, I’ve amended my personal rules of engagement so that I simply do not, under any circumstances, engage with Chris.

            • Other Bill wrote, “Good for the blood pressure.”

              Blood pressure is absolutely no problem here and I don’t foam at the mouth in anger either. I choose to pick my “battles”.

              Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “Maybe if we just ignore him he will go away.”

              That’s just not very likely. As I said above, personally I’d much rather Chris stop using this facade of stupidity that he’s using to troll; we see the real Chris peek through once in awhile and that’s refreshing. I know he is in there behind that facade and the world of Ethics Alarms would be a much better place if he’d drop the facade.

              It’s not within me to completely stand down and turn a blind eye to much of the stuff Chris writes; this stuff needs to be challenged directly so pick your “battles” too.


              • Z, I went way out of my way to be super nice to Chris. But you go right ahead. I’m rooting for you and admire your efforts and those of all the others.

                • And the blood pressure comment was strictly metaphorical. Mine’s actually really good lately. But I was “seeing red” at times with you know who, so, no mas.

      • Yes, Other Bill. I figure, if I want someone to ignore facts, data and logic while relentlessly advancing an agenda, I have my children available for that. Plus, they will eventually grow up.

        • Ooooo, harsh, even a bit Bill-Maher-ish (he made a similar comparison noting that dogs don’t advance mentally), but bang on the nose.

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