Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Right to Be Wrong

The guy on the bottom in the picture above is Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco quarterback who generated a firestorm this weekend by refusing to stand for the National Anthem before a pre-season football game.
As difficult as it is for me to say it, our Constitution gives him an unassailable right to behave this way.  
Courts have ruled that actions constitute speech and are protected by the 1st Amendment - that's why it is no longer illegal to burn a flag.  Free speech means, with certain exceptions like slander, threatening the President, or yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater, that Americans have the right to say anything without regard to how ridiculous it might be.  The 1st Amendment gives you the perfect right to be a total asshole.  
That is why the ACLU has, on occasion, defended organizations like the KKK, whose beliefs are anathema to what the ACLU stands for. Nobody said good citizenship should be easy.
The National Football League issued a statement affirming Kaepernick's right to behave as he did.  They were correct, but this is the same NFL front office that the week before denied the Dallas Cowboys request to put decals on their helmets honoring slain Dallas police officers.  
Maybe the Constitution needs an amendment to the amendment - one that says you have a right to be wrong, but you are required to at least be consistent. 

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