Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One

Yeoman commenter Chris issued a detailed response to the first of two posts about the anthem protest fiasco. It’s not all rebuttal, and raises other related issues; Chris is clear and articulate, and I wanted to get this up now so commenters could respond here.

I’ll just argue immediately with one of Chris’s points, because I have always found it bizarre when I have encountered it elsewhere.  The Left’s aversion to rituals like standing for the National Anthem or saluting the flag seems to me to be a wonderful example of missing the crucially important forest for a scrawny tree. Rituals, traditions and ceremonies bind people, cultures and societies together. They also bind other cultures together, including small ones, like families. Singing and listening to that Anthem at public events is at worst harmless, and at best a binding and powerful group experience. I feel sorry for people who don’t or can’t experience it, just as I feel pity for those who cut themselves off from the culture’s celebration of Christmas to show their aversion to Christianity or religion. I have seen what havoc is raised in a family when a long and beloved tradition is suddenly rejected by a child. The family is wounded, and all its members are affected. This is just a microcosm of what happens in a nation when there is the kind of widespread rejection of values and symbols that Chris and those like him advocate.

The National Anthem at sporting events is theater, spectacle, and symbolic. Anyone on the field is part of the spectacle, and has the power to diminish the experience for people who care deeply about it. They also harm the tradition itself. For an organization like a sports team, it is important to make any on-field display professional, uniform, and pleasing to the audience. A player intentionally refusing to conform with the ritual and thus disrupting it is, at the minimum, rude and selfish. A team has every justification to take measures to prevent some players from standing respectfully, others kneeling, others turning their back, some waving competing flags and others making farting sounds. It looks bad. It will turn the tradition into a farce. Most important of all, it weakens the country and the culture. National pride and respect is part of the connective tissue that ensures the strength and health of any society. I cannot fathom why so many on the Left cannot grasp this concept, and I have dark suspicions that they do grasp it, and this is why they try to tear our traditions down.

Commenter John Glass also passed this along:

The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the NFL League Rulebook. It states: ‘The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. ‘During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition… …It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.’

Any employer has a right to set such rules and conditions for on the job conduct, and any employee has a right to ply his trade, or another, elsewhere.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day on the post, The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One:

sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.

Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism.

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.

It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were, wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.

I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events. (And was Trump’s statement not political bombast and grandstanding?

Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field.

I agree, which is why players should not be forced to take part in a political demonstration during sporting events.

Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on.

It was very clear to me what they were protesting; you describe it here:

The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses

That’s what they’re protesting. It’s what I would be doing too. I’ve said before that I think flag burning is idiotic, but if Trump followed through on his threats to make flag burning illegal, I would become a flag burner. There may not have been a specific threat here, but the principle is the same. If Trump calls people who take a knee during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” then let me be a son of a bitch. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Headline Of The Month: ‘Vatican: The Body of Christ Is Not Gluten Free”‘

The original Ethics Alarms post, one of two this month implicitly critical of the Catholic Church, has spawned several remarkable and thoughtful discussions, as well as so many candidates for Comment of The Day that any choice among them is somewhat arbitrary. In the case of Ryan Harkins, I’m not even certain this is the best of his comments on the post, so many excellent ones did I have to choose from. Thus I urge readers to read the entire array, which, I regret to say, is impressive and educational even though it does not include my old friend Patrice, Catholic, theologian, and Church employee who has commented here frequently in the past.

I decided to pair two of Ryan’s comments, the first an overview providing context for my original post’s topic, the Church’s insistence that that the bread and wafers used in Communion include gluten. The second, a response to a series of queries from another commenter, delves into an eternal ethics debate topic, the nexus between God and ethics.

Here is Ryan Harkins’ Dual Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Headline Of The Month: “Vatican: The Body of Christ Is Not Gluten Free”

I.

Where to begin? The challenge of trying to explain some of the odder details of the Catholic faith is that many of those details don’t make sense without the context of the faith as a whole. So please forgive me if I seem to natter on about tangential matters.

So, let’s begin with a few definitions to make discussion a little easier. A Sacrament is a visible sign, established by Jesus himself, through which God conveys grace upon mankind. A Sacrament is composed of two parts, one spiritual and one material. The reason it possess both qualities is because Sacraments are designed for us, and a human person is a body/spirit composite. We are not purely material beings, nor are we ghosts in a shell. We are not a complete person without our bodies. Now, to have a sign that is purely spiritual would neglect the physical aspect of our existence. To have a sign that is purely physical would neglect the spiritual dimension of our existence.

The Eucharist is one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Catholics really, truly believe Jesus was serious when he said repeatedly, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life.” When at the Last Supper, he blesses bread and wine and says, “Take this and eat. This is my body, given for you” and “This is the cup of my blood, which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”, Catholics believe that yes, Jesus truly held himself in his hands and gave himself to his apostles to consume. So the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus, the fullness of his body, blood, soul, and divinity. When a priest says Mass and confects the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the bread and wine on the altar are transsubstantiated into Jesus. The accidents of bread and wine remain (so yes, consuming Jesus is problematic for anyone who has issues with the accidents of bread and wine), but the substance is entirely Jesus. The smallest drop from the chalice and the tiniest crumb of the loaf contains the fullness of Jesus.

Okay, so a Sacrament has a spiritual and a physical dimension, and the Eucharist obviously uses bread and wine for the physical dimension. Why bread and wine? In just reference to food and drink, we understand the Eucharist as a meal, and historically the greatest communal activity is the sharing together of a meal. In earliest Christianity, the Eucharistic celebration was in the context of the agape feasts, which eventually St. Paul instructed to tone down because people would become drunk and riotous at these feasts. The point, though, is that eating together is sign of communion (which is in part why the Eucharist is also called Communion). Jesus had prayed that “they may all be one, Father, as I am in you and you are in me,” and the Eucharist is the Sacrament Jesus instituted to make that possible. By consuming Jesus himself, we bring him into ourselves and are in turn incorporated into him. (You are what you eat, right?) Continue reading

Last Meal Ethics

Sure, the dinner was great, but the after-dinner entertainment was terrible...

The dragging-death killer of James Byrd, Lawrence Russell Brewer, went to his Texas execution last week after ordering up a true pig-out for his last meal: two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy with sliced onions; a triple meat bacon cheeseburger with fixings on the side; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapenos; a large bowl of fried okra with ketchup; one pound of barbecue with half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas with fixings; a Meat Lovers pizza; three root beers; one pint of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream; and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. When it arrived, he didn’t eat any of it. Texas authorities were annoyed, or insulted (“I make you a delicious meal, your favorite, and this is the gratitude I get?”), or something. Brewer’s wasteful order caused the state  to re-consider the appropriateness of the tradition of the last meal accommodation for the condemned, and legislators decided to eliminate it entirely. Other states have begun to debate doing the same thing.

It’s time for the question that needs to start most ethics discussions: “What’s going on here?” Continue reading